What started as a beautiful marriage 10 years ago, ended this Jan where Sony and Ericsson went their own separate ways. This was more of a sweet than bitter parting of ways as Sony can fully concentrate on upping their game in the mobile space and make use of various patents and technology acquired by Ericsson over the years in their other products as well. This leaves Ericsson with a heap of cash for their stake in the joint venture. With Sony at the wheel, it was time for them to change things up and create a new experience for their mobile phone division, something that would be distinctly recognizable as a Sony phone and not a Sony Ericsson.
A handsome looking phone
While the former partners had some iconic phones over the decade, I personally wasn’t sold on their designs and never really like any of their handsets so much, that I would go out and buy one. One of the main reasons for this was their habit of using way too many chrome and glossy bits all over the phone and the fact that the buttons were always small and fiddly, which didn’t really inspire quality (even if it was well built). Take their last high-end phone, the Xperia Arc. A great phone, no doubt, but again, too many glossy plastic bits and a bit of chrome overdose. When they announced their new lineup at MWC 2012, the NXT series did pique my interest since it was a far cry from what we’ve come to expect from them, and most importantly, Sony seemed to have done away with all the chrome bits, which scores high in my book. While the official launch of the Xperia S is for India is still a week away, we were lucky to get our hands on a unit and although our encounter was brief, it was enough to come up with a verdict. Out of all the tests, we weren't able to run our series of battery tests but worry not, as we will be updating this review once we get it for a longer time. This may or may not affect the rating, so we’ll see what happens.
Design and Build
The Xperia S is currently Sony’s highest-end offering in their NXT series. The phone comes packed in a slim box along with some reading material, microUSB cable, power adapter and an in-earphone headset. Available in black and white, the Xperia S feels absolutely lovely to hold and although the chassis is built from plastic, it’s really hard to tell. The phone feels sturdy and well built with no creaking joints even if you squeeze it. The phone appears a bit blocky due to the lack of rounded edges and a slim profile. At 10.6mm, I wouldn’t exactly call it fat and it’s pretty light as well with the battery at 144g.
Nice detailing around the headphone jack
For connectivity, we have a plastic flap-covered microUSB port and HDMI port on either sides while the 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on the top. Buttons on the phone include the volume rocker, camera shutter and a power/sleep button. The lanyard, mic and antenna for the radios are placed towards the bottom of the phone. Like I mentioned earlier, the buttons don’t have any annoying gloss finish, which is good but they are still a bit tiny and thin and can be annoying when you want to quickly unlock the phone or snap a quick picture. I really like the little attention to detail, like the brushed metal ring around the headphone jack. This gives it a nice polished touch. On the front, we have the 1.3MP front facing camera along with a scratch-resistant 4.3-inch screen. There’s even a notification light on the left side which toggles between three colours depending on the type of alert. With a resolution of 1280 x 720, the Xperia S sails past the iPhone’s Retina Display with a pixel count of 342ppi. Coupled with the Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine, this makes anything and everything on the screen appear super sharp and crisp. Colour reproduction is very good and so is the sunlight legibility. The display also supports 10 finger multi-touch gestures.
The translucent strip is certainly looks cool
Coming to the bottom portion of the Xperia S, we have the new translucent strip which holds the labels for the capacitive buttons. The buttons themselves aren’t on the strip as we assumed before, but instead, they are placed just above it represented by three silver dots. Now, this does take some getting used too as you’ll instinctively want to press something that lights up. The three buttons are ‘Back’, ‘Home’ and ‘Options’. I didn’t find the sensitivity of the capacitive buttons all that great and there were many instances when it refused to register any input. We hope this is merely a software glitch and wish Sony releases a fix for it soon.
The 12MP shooter
Coming to the back of the phone, we just have the 12MP camera, LED flash and the speaker. The battery cover is opened by simply pushing it upwards and it pops out. The Xperia S uses a microSIM card and there’s no expandable memory support, just 32GB of onboard storage. Also, the battery is not user replaceable. Overall, the Xperia S really impressed us with the design and build, it definitely feels like a premium phone, which it is. One thing that needs some work are the capacitive buttons.
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