This is a smartphone for those who want a usuable adaptable and competitive device.
It's relatively chunky (128 x 64 x 11mm) and square-edged, vaguely tactile thanks to its textured shroud and with a pleasing (to our eyes) flourish in the illuminated Perspex slice running through it.
The most prominent control on the handset is the ringer/media volume control high up on a side-panel. The side-panel also incorporate and HDMI output for connection to a TV or AV amp and USB input for charging. There's also a camera button the Sony's camera is ready to shoot with a second of these is bieng pressed, regardless of what the phone was doing beforehand.
The screen is astonishingly good. It's a 4.3in HD affair - its resolution of 1280 x 720 would have been commendable on a full-size TV not long ago - and it's bright, detailed and colorful. Video content looks lustrous. The Xperia S with high-definition footage of J. Period and Black thought performing at the Toronto Manifesto Festival, along with a clip from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - in a landscape format it's plenty enough, and the picture is loaded with detail, handle motion well and musters strong clean contrast. The sony's ability to stream video wirelessly to your DLNA-enable TV at single button-push is equaly pleasing. Then, of course the camera. At 12.1 megapixel it's of greater resolution than any number of point'n'shoot cameras on the market, and sure enough it take still pictures and video of impeccable quality. Detail levels are sky-high, and image remain stable even when you're making full use of the Xperia S's 16x digital zoom. Full HD Video capture is availble, and the Sony is very efficient at minimizing wobble.
As a music device the Xperia S is at the mercy of your headphones. Any serious user should ditch the bundled ear-buds (not and Apple-style catastrophe, but still pretty indifferent) in favor of something worthwhile - consider SoundMagic's E10s a minimun - and then the Sony is revealed as a perky, engaging listen.
Its,s detailed and spacious enough to make the use of big files advisable (1411kps file or Burial's Archagle is punchy and atmospheric) while not turning its nose up at 256kbps online purchases, and in any event remains composed and articulate.
The newly secure Music Unlimited app (which replaces the not-secure-at-all Qriocity) offers a bit of on-demand streaming from a pretty impressive library in case you swamp the Xperia S's 1GB of internal memory with full-fat music files.
Somehow, the Sony is never less than competitive. You can feel Android working hard at times (the incoming upgrad should help), but otherwise it's a brisk performer. And as a telephone, Xperia S is entirely sensible - it holds on to the sort of marginal signal-strength we at Teddington Lock can sometimes be afflicted with, and call quality is generally crisp and low noise. This is a great phone that will only get better. Yes, its rivals should worry. And yes that includes the iPhone.
The provision of four coloured dog-tags for use as near-field communication prompts is a thoughful touch; waving your Xperia S near to a specific smart tag to active specific profiles and access specific apps is authentically gratifying.
It's like to having universal remote control. It's great to have different profile for your phone when you get into car, example - connecting the phone automatically to the in-car Bluetooth system. Or perhaps you're going out for run - hang one by the door, let the phone see it and you can set it to switch to your exercise app to start spinning your running playlist.
Need to know about Sony Xperia S
Consider if your emphasis is on audio, video and still pictures. The sony's got sky-high screen and camera resolution numbers, and the quality is every bit a good as the numbers promise. Plus it's no slouch as a portable music player.
Make sure keep the charger handy. Like every Smarthphone we've used so far, the Sony's once-a-day charging proposition and battery life can dip below ten hours if your give the most power-hungry functions a proper tanning.
Avoid Judging the operating System to harshly. The Xperia S is running Adroid 2.3 "Gingerbread" at the moment its not the smoothest but Sony is promising an upgrade to 4.0 Ice Cream Sanwich by the middle of this year.
The Sony is a great music player, but the headphones it's supplied with are nothing like as accomplished.
The Xperia S is the first Sony phone without “Ericsson” named attached, and it's without doubt the most competitive handset the company's ever delivered.