Sony’s first steps into the mobile market without the Ericsson suffix were always going to be an interesting one: When such a big player in the market undergoes such a radical change, people are always going to sit up and take notice.
Well, I had the opportunity to spend a few days with the Xperia S, Sony’s debut phone:- So is it a brave new start, or simply more of the same?
The first thing that springs to mind on unboxing the phone is this: It looks and feels a lot like a Sony Ericsson phone. In fact, when you consider that the Sony part of Sony Ericsson was the part that dealt with the actual hardware manufacturing, this should come as no surprise. Users of the Xperia X10 or any of Sony’s predecessors’ smartphones will immediately feel right at home with the S.
The phone is extremely sealed: both the battery and storage are permanently attached to the phone and not swappable, but this allows the phone to remain super slim and comfortable in the hand – although the rubber flap that protects the USB cable port is pretty ugly and doesn’t feel like it’d last the full life of the phone – but I’ve been wrong before.
On turning the phone on, initial impressions are good: The screen is, frankly, incredible: It’s a 720×1280 LCD screen that is bright, vibrant and absolutely guaranteed to demolish your battery life if left at the default brightness. Nevertheless, it’s a joy to look at and video looks fantastic on it – our test phone came pre-loaded with a trailer for the film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, and it looked so good my girlfriend came home with the DVD the next day.
Using the phone is a little weird: While using the Sony-fied Android Gingerbread installation the phone comes with (Ice Cream Sandwich is already conspicuous by its absence) via the touchscreen is pleasant, when it comes to using one of the hardware “buttons” (simply touchscreen pads at the bottom of the device), the temptation is always to press the see-through piece of plastc that runs through the phone – which actually sits above the buttons themselves. It’s a tiny flaw, but one that became annoying with continued use.
However, with continued use the phone does also begin to shine: photos and videos shot with the phone look vibrant and full of colour (much like previous Sony handsets), and although they lose some of their sparkle when viewed on a screen other than the Bravia panel, they still look better than snaps and movies taken on other flagship Android devices.
Elsewhere, you’ll find the NFC technology that companies like O2 desperately want to become more mainstream in the near future, which eventually will allow the phone to act as a debit card and a whole host of other things – but at the moment it’s limited to simply being used for scanning tags to turn features on and off – which in itself is actually kind of cool, in truth.
The phone is also impressively specced, and the dual core 1.5GHz CPU will run anything you can throw at it from the Android Market (Or Google Play, as it’s known now) – all we need now is for some really hardware hungry games to be released for the platform.
Altogether, the phone feels like Sony’s other forays into the Android Market: There are a few niggles here and there, sure, and the phone retains a feel reminiscent of Sony Ericsson devices going all the way back to the T620, all the way through to their final Android swansongs.
The phone was provided to us by Tesco MobileTweet