Xperia S hands-on: Mammoth roundup [Video]

by XB on 12th January 2012

in Featured Content, Hands On, Videos, Xperia S

Xperia SWe’ve already done a huge roundup of hands-on impressions for the Sony Xperia ion and it was only fitting that we followed suit for the Xperia S. Unfortunately the Xperia ion is a very limited device in terms of availability, it is only headed to AT&T in the United States. For this reason, the Xperia S is probably of more interest to most readers and so we’ve got a whole host of hands-on impressions and videos of the device below.

We have to hand it to the Sony designers, the Xperia S has a very unique design. It may not be to everyone’s taste, and it doesn’t match the Xperia arc in our opinion, but it is different and that is very important given how many cookie-cutter Android phones there are out there. Overall, most people seem to like the design and display, with the main criticisms pointed at the capacitive buttons (similar to the Xperia ion). Click through for the full roundup.

– The gorgeous S looks right at home alongside Sony’s other glossy hardware.
– The handset itself has a nice feel, with a concave back, which makes the handset a bit thick than the segments of the Android population attempting to win the title of the “world’s thinnest.”
– Just below the display, you’ll find three white dots. These line up with the home, menu and back buttons, embedded in a sliver of thick glass casing. Upon seeing the handset, we found ourselves attempting to touch the icons themselves, it turns out it’s actually the aforementioned dots that activate the functionality. We appreciate the clear focus on aesthetics here, but the whole thing is a bit counterproductive.

The Verge:
– It’s a very handsome device, especially with the transparent strip at the bottom.
– The soft-touch feel of the device should keep it from slipping out of the hand, but even with the 720p Reality Display we’re not entirely sure that the Xperia S can hang with the top of the line Android phones of December 2011, much less 2012.

– It has an interesting transparent piece toward the bottom that doesn’t really add any function, per se, but it’s kinda cool looking.
– There was also a bit of lag here and there which could stem from that, though I was told that the units I played with might not have had the final software.

– The most noticeable difference of the XPERIA S was how much thinner it was than the Ion, and of course that see-through glow along the bottom of the casing.
– It’s too bad the XPERIA S isn’t launching in the US, I would almost rather see it than the Ion LTE.

– It retains some serious hardware under the hood and flaunts a design that’s not only neat looking, but also has a more compact body (than the Xperia ion).
– It still features a curved back that makes it very comfortable to hold in the hand, while its smaller footprint makes it considerably easier to handle.
– One can find a translucent acrylic piece separating the phone towards the bottom. Indeed, it’s not something we tend to see on phones, which gives it a very fresh look, but it’s actually a part of the handset’s antenna system.
– Fine text is easily distinguished (on the display), but it’s nice to see that it maintains its clarity at all angles. However, there’s a noticeable bluish tinge to the handset’s display, which of course results in some very saturated looking colours.
– The skin running on top of Android 2.3 might seem to be a culprit with its not-so instantaneous response at times.

– The Sony Xperia S is definitely a desirable phone. It has a great, sleek look and we love the little design flourishes Sony has decided to give the Xperia S. Sony has said that this design will be a familiar one from now on, and it will continue in the future and be used on other upcoming phones.
– In the hand, the Sony Xperia S feels great – it’s thin too, with no apparent bulk to speak of.
– Sony has managed to cram its Sony Exmor R technology into the phone and Xperia S boasts a fast capture speed of just 1.5 seconds. In our tests this worked brilliantly.
– There was no apparent lag when switching between the camera and apps and then on to the browser.

– The screen that leverages Sony’s Bravia technology, is very crisp and clean. Watching a trailer of Smurfs (oh the shame) we found the viewing angle to be very good indeed.
– There appears to be little point to the see-through bar other than it looks interesting – maybe it is the antenna, but what is apparent from our quick play and watching other journalists is that the actual buttons, that sit above the see-through bar, are missed time and time again. We, and others, instantly pressed the see-through bar instead. That could be something that you quickly remember, but it certainly is annoying to start with.
– It is hard to judge the quality of the shots we took as we weren’t able to export them, however on screen the playback looked great, fantastic even. The Xperia S screen, combined with the camera, makes a great combination.
– Our quick hands-on play showed the Xperia S to be nippy loading apps and playing video with no issue.

– While we didn’t get to do extensive side-by-side comparisons with other 720p-screen devices, I found the Xperia S to have a bright and beautiful screen where colours really popped out.

– We think that plastic stripe could prove divisive — the Xperia S doesn’t appear as chic or minimalist as some other mobiles. But it does make the phone look unique, and there’s much to be said for that.
– That stonking resolution means on-screen icons look really clear, with text rendering very crisply. This display should do justice to your photos and high-definition video.
– We’re mighty excited about the Xperia S. Sony’s first phone on its own is shaping up to be a real hardware powerhouse, and it certainly rocks an alluring design. The display and camera are particularly worth of note.

– With an HD 4.3-inch screen offering a pixel density of 342 and an angular, bold aesthetic, the Sony Xperia S certainly looks out to make an impression stylistically.

– The Sony Xperia S is an impressive debut for the new Sony phone brand. It’s stylish, well built, packs in loads of great features and is easy to use. It’s not perfect, with a screen that only has mediocre colours and viewing angles – and the signature clear strip on the bottom is also just a bit odd – but it’s a great all rounder.

– Apart from the obvious body design tricks, the S is still a cool phone to mess around with. The large display looks great, and the device feels good in your hand as well.

The Inquirer:
– Sony has stuck to a simple design, with the only real distinguishing feature being a transparent stripe that runs along the bottom of the device. Three touch-sensitive buttons sit directly above this LED illuminated strip, and although it does look nice we had to resist the urge to keep prodding it.
– The standout feature on the handset is the 4.3in HD screen. It looks good and when we flicked through pictures and watched a HD video, the colour reproduction and playback were excellent.

– I was very impressed after taking a good hard look at the new Xperia S. It is something fresh which is more than I can say for most Android Gingerbread phones.
– The phone is very boxy, and even has an extra bit of hardware on the bottom that seemingly has no purpose. Still, I don’t mind it since it adds something new to the look of the phone with that thin strip of clear plastic. I also tend to frown upon white phones, but the Xperia S is a sexy little beast in white.
– All in all, the phone feels great in the hand and looks hot. The corners are a bit “sharp” but not at all uncomfortable, and the purposeless extra hardware along the bottom doesn’t make the phone cumbersome at all.


Sony Electronics:



  • A lot of generally positive things about the phone. The software performance I bet will be updated considering there’s a month or two before it’s in market worldwide. 

    I’m surprised SE seems to be the only manufacturer, starting last year even, to have the 3 buttons along the bottom that also (coincidentally?) line up with the ICS soft key buttons from left to right. Back | Home | Menu. Even makes sense to me how you touch the dots vs. the actual buttons in the transparent bar. I’ll be interested to see how that plays out in their ICS ROM. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been snooping around in YouTube and have watched most of this videos already, it’s nice to see I’m not the only one… ;)

  • Thiago

    Can the front camera take photos too?

  • M Usman

    I’m confused. I thought the Arc S was SE’s last device. In the Engadget video, the Xperia S has the Sony logo. But in the Phone Arena video, it has the Sony Ericsson logo… can someone please clarify

  • M Usman

    of course it can :). there will be an option in the camera app to change to front facing camera if you want to take portraits of yourself lol 

  • themanspirit

    As a ‘Qwerty or bust’ type of user.
    Who for over the past decade has always owned Nokia mobiles.
    Yet always have a soft spot for Sony.
    I am about to purchase the Xperia Pro.
    But Xperia S could well be the mobile that breaks my ‘Qwerty or bust’ habit .

    Love the styling, and distinctive design with materials used.
    Great to read this is the new look for Sony Mobile Communications.
    Will we see the return of the ‘It’s a Sony’ logo?

    Like many here, I would prefer physical buttons in the transparent section where there are icons.
    Look forward to the Xperia S reviews.
    Inparticular how it fares in GSMArena’s Battery Test’s.

    By the way, big ups to everyone involved at
    I’m new here, and really enjoying the blog.
    Reading through your news from the last quarter, its great to see SE recognise your efforts.
    Keep up the great work, and thank you for supporting RSS feeds.

  • If the strip is used for notification light illumination as well (or the notification light is on top of the phone like it should be, not to the side) then that would be very cool indeed :)

  • Anonymous


  • M Usman

    I’m confused. I thought the Arc S was SE’s last device. In the Engadget video, the Xperia S has the Sony logo. But in the Phone Arena video, it has the Sony Ericsson logo… can someone please clarify

  • M Usman

    I’m confused. I thought the Arc S was SE’s last device. In the Engadget video, the Xperia S has the Sony logo. But in the Phone Arena video, it has the Sony Ericsson logo… can someone please clarify

  • Anonymous

    it was developed by Sony ericsson so some of the phones they’re showing say Sony ericsson, but the release phone will be Sony 

  • Rene Pedroso

    I would like to see the option to have ”SONY” illuminate on the device like my TV’s do. Also, if they could get (or someone else) Remote Play on it for my PS3’s

  • Anonymous

    Until the name for the mobile division gets approval (Sony Mobile Communications) then right now, the phones can only officially be sold under the Sony Ericsson brand.  Once the name gets approved then there will be no more new Sony Ericsson branded phones.

  • Really Thanks For Sharing These Video About THe Xperia!

  • actually they have said that the strip glows with different colored lights depending on the calls, messages etc. In is elongated notification light.

  • Xperia S is definitely Sony’s first android flagship (without Ericsson). yet they have kept the logo. i wont be surprised if the trademark is continued under the name Sony Mobile Communication which is the new name of mobile division of Sony.

  • Anonymous

    Would be preety damn frigging awesome if they had 3 LEDs, Red, Green, Blue, and is able to adjust the intensity of each LED to produce all sorts of colours that’s configurable on software side XD

  • Pingback: An alternative to the iPhone? |

  • John

    Some of the camera people need sacking on those clips above.
    Can we have a video of what happens on the clear strip on an I/C call, please.
    Sony used this idea a while back on their W980 non-smart phone, of course.
    It’s not a new idea. It used to glow white on an incoming call. I hope this one does similar.
    I like the lanyard attachment at the bottom, as well. Nice phone.

  • It would be Great to finally see,,, A Sony Xperia Nexus… Its just an idea, i think it sounds cool :D

  • hugo

    i strongly recommend this preview (in italian, but shows many interesting features)

  • themanspirit

    Thank you Brother.  :-)
    Happy New Year everyone!!

  • Anonymous

    you will not be disappointed with the Xperia Pro. I have it and also will refuse anything QWERTY (it really is that much better).

    Xperia S looks nice but has flaws – out of principle I won’t accept capacitive buttons, sealed batteries, microSIM and no SD. I don’t like the sharp edges and large size of these devices either. (Pro is also not priced as expensive).

  • Anonymous

    If you look in the videos the green notification showing the phone is charging at the top of the phone. I’m not sure therefore that the transparent section is a notification light at all, though perhaps they have made event notifications and charging notifications separate.

    Whatever, they really should have integrated physical hardware buttons into that transparent section, rather than those stupid capacitive dots.

  • Anonymous

    Pressing the camera button to get directly to the camera from sleep is superior to the stupid lock-screen solution on stock ICS and HTC sense.

    I am wondering though about the security. They say that you won’t be able to access other phone features, but it looked like you could access previous pictures (some which may be private). Hopefully there’ll be a security prompt should you try to do so.

    (only disadvantage though is that you are going to end up with many pictures of the inside of your pocket! not a biggie though)

  • Carlod879

    I have checked the SE site for India, and I have noticed a couple of things . . .
    The phone brand is says Sony, and it advertised on SE site, not even on the official Sony site for India

    The front of the phone shown on the site says Sony, but the rear shows the SE logo. . .What is really happening?

  • So, a couple things:

    1) All these videos embedded into one page makes my browser’s Flash plugin unhappy.
    2) After reading more reviews and watching some of these videos, I’m amazed at how dumb reporters are while stating the phone coming with GB is such a terrible thing and a disgust to them. The fact that the upgrade path is already defined should calm them down immediately. I’d be surprised if any other new phones actually being sold in March will have ICS. I also wonder what phones shown at MWC next month will have ICS already loaded on them.

  • Anonymous

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