While you may be familiar with the assortment of Xperiaphones to have been released since 2008, the Xperia S is the first of thesephones to be released since Sony bought out Ericsson’s stake in the SonyEricsson partnership. Thus, in addition to being the first dual-core Xperiasmartphone, it’s also the first one to be simply branded as a Sony. And it’s aslick looking little phone.
The phone plays to a few of Sony’s key strengths. First up,it’s got a gorgeous 4.3-inch screen that has a resolution of 1280 x 720 – thatmakes it 342 pixels per inch, a higher pixel density than Apple’s RetinaDisplay…in fact, Sony’s branding it with their own “HD Reality Display”.
The smartphone also comes with a 12.1-megapixel/1080p cameraon the rear, plus a lower-res 720p front facing camera for voice calls. Again,tapping into its consumer electronic expertise, there’s an app called 3D Camerathat allows you to take a 3D panorama by holding the shutter and panning to theside. Then, you plug the phone into a 3D television using the included HDMIcable to see the resulting 3D image.
And, as you’d expect, the phone is PlayStation certified,for a great gaming experience on the phone, and the ability to plug the phonein and play on the big screen.
The phone also supports Near Field Communications – whilethis tap-to-transfer technology hasn’t really taken off in North America yet,the inclusion means this phone is ready, when it does.
Inside, the processor is a 1.5 GHz dual-coreSnapDragon processor, from Qualcomm. There's one gig of memory, and 32 gigs ofonboard storage…but no slot for removable storage.
Design-wise, the phone is pretty impressive. It looks fairlyelegant, with details like a transparent lit-up section at the bottom thatshows the Android function logos even as you’re looking at whatever’s behindyour phone (probably your hand, but hey).
The only problem here is the design cues are sometimes a bitmisleading. In at least one case I’ve seen menu icons on the screen itself, andrepeated below in the transparent area…but you don’t press either of them; you press a near-invisible dot between them. It’sdefinitely a place where style and function are at odds.
The phone also hides its ports between little pull-outcovers. While the covers are closed, the phone’s design is attractive, but thisstyle of port-cover is always somewhat worrisome because they’re prone to beingpulled right out of device, which means they might eventually get lost.
One other slight disappointment is the phone’s launch withAndroid 2.3 – again, another handset that doesn’t have Ice Cream Sandwich atlaunch. But a sticker on the packaging clearly touts the phone’s upgradabilityto ICS – it’s just a matter of the upgrade being made available. Sony’s justannounced the kickoff of the ICS upgrades to the Xperia line on the companyblog, so hopefully it won’t be too long for the Xperia S.
The Xperia S is launching in Canada on April 17, exclusive viathe Sony Store. You’ll be able to buy it outright for $499, but it will also beavailable at a discount on a multi-year term with Rogers.