Sony Xperia S

Sony Xperia S

With its 4.3-inch HD touchscreen and 1.5GHz dual-core processor, it looks like Sony's first-branded smartphone is destined for success

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Editor's Review of the Xperia S

Reviewed by on 25th April 2012

After several years of fairly successful glory-sharing, Sony have finally decided to dump the Ericsson label on their phones. It's certainly easier only the tongue, and 'Sony Xperia S' is a fittingly slick term for this new sharply-designed handsets. But does its functionality match the ultra-cool branding?

Design & Build

The simple, angular design on the phone is a refreshing change from the dominant tendency to be all curvy and chromey. The slightly softened plastic finish on the top, sides and bottom is a bit of a fingerprint trap though, so you might want to keep a glasses wipe handy with you at all times.

The phone's most interesting external feature is the transparent band under screen, inside which you can see part of the phone's antenna system. Best of all, it has a gentle white glow. While this is visually pleasing, the bar doesn't function as a button. Instead, the labels on the bar correlate to three pin-prick capacitive buttons above it that are unresponsive and too close to the screen.

The highlight of the phone is its beautiful 4.3" HD LED-backlit screen, which squeezes in an impressive 342 ppi or pixels per inch (for the record, the iPhone 4S only has 326 ppi). This means that the image never loses clarity, whether fully zoomed out or in. It may not have the kind of viewing angles we've seen on Super AMOLED phones such as the HTC One X, but this is still one of the best screens out there.

The Xperia S boasts a monstrous 12MP camera, which can easily be accessed from the lock screen. It uses an Exmor R image sensor which balances out the image depending on whether you're in high- or low-light conditions. It also records videos in 1080P quality and has a 1.3MP front-facing camera (the quality of which looks like that of a disposable camera next to its 12MP counterpart).

OS & Interface

The flop feature on this phone has to be the fact that it comes pre-installed with the dated Android 2.3 Gingerbread. While we can expect an update to Ice Cream Sandwich hopefully in the not-too-distant future, it's a wonder why it's not an in-built feature here considering how long the ICS update has been about.

Sony have quite a few neat functionality tricks up their sleeve, such as a main menu with plenty of auto-arrange functions, a lockscreen from which you can quickly access messages and missed calls, and a keyboard that makes good use of the large screen space.

The Xperia S makes a decent case for the fact that Dual-Core processors can easily handle whatever loads you throw at them. Even stacking up several apps simultaneously doesn't cause any slowdown, and you can flick between your 5 home-screens seamlessly.

Multimedia & Storage

Most of Sony's pre-installed apps are a waste of both screen and memory space. Why do we need Sony to provide us with an 'App recommender?' Or worse, why does the useless PlayNow service still exist? Worst of all, they can't be uninstalled. A little less useless are Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited, though we don't understand why they couldn't have been integrated into a single app.

You can get the Xperia S in either 16GB or 32GB models, but more hardcore users will balk at the lack of expandable memory. Maybe the onboard-only memory wouldn't matter so much if Sony hadn't cluttered up the phone with their junk apps. However, bearing in mind the clutter, you in effect only have 25GB to play around with.

Battery life, Connectivity, And the Rest

The battery life on the Xperia S is decent, if unspectacular, and medium users should get a day's use out of it. Sony's own specs say that you can get 7.5 hours of GSM talk time out of it, 420 hours standby, and 6.5 hours of video playback. Tech geeks will once again be unhappy at the lack of removable battery.

This phone features some mixed connectivity options. While 'tech-of-the-future' NFC is included, the Xperia S only has lowly Bluetooth 2.1 on it. All the expected connectivity options are included (GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSPDA), but some may be disappointed that the phone's not functional with HSPA+ wireless networks, ready for when they come to the UK.


The Sony Xperia S is definitely one of the more stylish phones out on the market, with its angular body hosting a beautiful LED screen. However, it falls short on the OS, which is outdated and encumbered with unnecessary software.

Its lack of removable battery and expandable memory may deter some, but for those who want a handset without the extra hardware 'bits', this could be a good choice. Not quite the revolution Sony would've hoped for though.

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Sony Xperia S Specifications

Sony Xperia S


128mm x 64mm x 10.6mm


144 grams


Full capacitive touch screen

Type: LED-backlit LCD

Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine

Size: 4.3 inches

Resolution: 720 x 1280


Keyboard: On-screen

Operating System

Android 2.3

Interface: Timescape UI


Integrated NFC Chip



Internal: 16/32GB


CPU: 1.5GHz Dual core

A-GPS with maps



Data Speed

Up to 14.4 Mbps download speed
Up to 5.76 Mbps upload speed

Data Protocols



Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n



Audio: 3.5mm stereo jack

Data: Standard microUSB

Quad Band

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900



Bluetooth 3

A2DP for wireless stereo headsets



12.0 megapixel camera

Auto Focus and LED Flash

1080p Video Recording

At 30 fps

Face Detection

Front facing camera with video calling



Social Networking Features

Twitter and Facebook Widgets

Email Access



Battery Capacity: 1750 mAh

Talk Time: 450 minutes

Standby Time: 450 hours



Radio: FM with RDS

Audio supported formats

Playback: MP3, WMA, WAV, eAAC+

Recording: Supported

Video supported formats

Playback: MP4, WMV, H.263, H.264

Recording: Supported

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