The new Sony Xperia S, Xperia P and Xperia U will use a different 3.5mm headset standard compared to the older Xperia models from 2010 & 2011. The spec sheet for the new 2012 Xperia models highlight that the 3.5mm jack will now use the CTIA standard as opposed to the OMTP standard it was using previously.
So what does this mean in English? Well, one of the common issues that users of Xperia phones faced was incompatibility with certain headsets/headphones. If you tried to plug a CTIA headset into an Xperia phone it may have had reduced functionality or it may not even have worked at all. This is as the 3.5mm plug is wired differently in both standards. The CTIA standard is more common and is the one adopted by Apple iOS devices.
Sony’s move to adopt the CTIA standard for its 3.5mm jack is good news as it immediately opens up a wide range of accessories for 2012 Xperia owners. However, the flip side to this, is that due to the different pin configuration, older headsets that can currently be used with 2010/2011 Xperia devices will not be compatible with 2012 Xperia phones.