Xperia S review roundup

by XB on 19th March 2012

in Featured Content, Reviews, Xperia S


The Sony Xperia S is now starting to trickle out into users hands around the global and as expected we’ve seen a number of reviews pop up over the last couple of weeks. As usual, we’ve condensed the key takeaways from the main reviews we’ve come across so far including links to each if you want to read further. We’ve also included a couple of in-depth previews that we thought were worth sharing.

Reading through the reviews listed below, there are some consistent positives and negatives. On the plus side, the Xperia S is praised for its gorgeous display (something we wholeheartedly agree with), performance and camera. The decision to launch on Android Gingerbread rather than Ice Cream Sandwich seems to be a main irritant amongst the reviews, whilst others question the design and build quality. However, there seem to be just as many people saying that the latter is very sturdy (us included). Anyway, click through for the full roundup.

Xperia S review roundup

cNet: “The Sony Xperia S has a beefy chip, an undeniably gorgeous HD screen, high-quality audio and an impressive camera. But these assets are marred by plasticky hardware and poor camera lens positioning. Another big let-down is the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich — and this is compounded by Sony’s tendency to pile on the bloatware and layer overlapping media services that confuse the user experience. At this price, the Xperia S is crossing swords with the big boys — the iPhone 4S, HTC’s One X and One S and Samsung’s Galaxy S2 — so you’ll need to be utterly sold on the HD screen and sumptuous audio to splash your cash.”

Engadget: “Could the Xperia S be your first Sony-branded phone? It you’re all about media consumption, and if you’re prepared to wait while Sony makes its cloud-based platforms more coherent, then the Xperia S is a great device. The display and the speaker are absorbing and addictive. The battery life is excellent, the processor is a good fit and the absence of expandable storage shouldn’t weigh too heavily if you get the 32GB option. On the other hand, if you make more varied demands of your smartphone — like excellent build quality, pocket-friendly slimness or photos you can enlarge — then things get more complicated. When sized up against a long rubric of criteria, rather than just its entertainment credentials, there’s little to make the Xperia S a compelling purchase.”

Eurodroid: “There’s one reason you absolutely need to at least see an Xperia S in action – its display. Sony’s 720p screen and Reality Display tech make this the sharpest and clearest screen we’ve used. You cannot see pixels. It’s like icons have been etched onto the glass with a laser. It is amazing to see and bordering on the unbelievable. The capacitive buttons take a bit of getting used to, thanks to offering quite small areas to aim at, but it’s not a deal breaker, because it’s all about the quality of the display. If you want the sharpest, clearest screen in the Android world today, it’s the one that’s inside the Xperia S. The rest of it’s pretty good, too, offering a fast and robust Android experience that can only get better when Sony updates it to Android 4.0 some time in Q2 of this year.”

Fudzilla (preview): “Overall the Xperia S is truly a great phone. It does not feature a 28nm processor, but it is still lightning fast. We love the design, top notch build quality and it simply feels like a very nice package indeed. There are no issues to report, aside from the somewhat awkward USB connector. The spec sheet has it all. A high resolution screen with Bravia, plenty of storage, fast processor, 12MP camera, DLNA, Playstation certification and NFC are on board. Basically, nothing is missing. It is nice to see Sony back at the top of its game.”

Gizmodo UK: “ The incredible quality and sharpness of the display alone makes this phone worth having, plus it’s always smooth in use and has no trouble running apps and games thanks to its dual-core internals. The Galaxy Nexus may well have exclusive claim to Android 4.0 in the phone world right now, but Sony’s first own-brand model for many years is a stylish and powerful option that ought to figure on anyone’s upgrade wishlist.”

GSMArena (preview): “The Sony Xperia S is worlds ahead of the previous Xperia generation and we’re genuinely impressed. It’s a proper premium droid and would have been absolutely spectacular mere months ago. The Xperia S hasn’t got a quad-core processor (not even a next-gen dual-core) and it only comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box for now. But here’s what the Xperia S has going for it: the screen is nothing short of amazing, the camera is one of very few to offer 12MP resolution and the connectivity has plenty of useful features. And Sony really managed to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the Snapdragon chipset inside. Last but not least, we do like the new design line too. The phone looks great and the build quality is worthy of a flagship. If you can get over the lack of two extra cores and ICS at launch (the update is coming), there’s plenty to like about the Sony Xperia S.”

PhoneArena: “What can we say in the end, but to acknowledge that Sony has hit the nail on the head with the Xperia S. From the characteristic design decisions, like a transparent illuminated strip, through an amazing HD display, to the ultra-fast camera, the first Sony-only handset is a delight. We are curious what will the quad-core Androids offer in terms of speed and camera shenanigans, like the HTC ImageChip, but for now the Xperia S alternatives with such a fast and quality camera plus a high-density display aren’t many. We only wish the Xperia S shipped with Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, otherwise it proves that you can come late to the multicore party, and still be more capable than most.”

Pocket-Lint: “It’s perhaps too simplistic to slam Sony Mobile’s flagship handset because it isn’t running on the latest processor hardware. Device performance isn’t governed simply by hardware, there’s a huge dollop of software in there too, even if top-notch hardware will side step some software foibles. The real judge of a phone should be suitability to task. The Sony Xperia S performs well on a number of levels. General performance is good, it has been stable for us to daily use, and we didn’t encounter any critical flaws in performance. The Sony Xperia S is possibly the most compelling Xperia handset yet, but it could do more. It’s a good phone, a pleasure to use and live with, but there is some space for improvement.”

PocketNow: “History seems to repeat itself. Sony has once again proven that they can come up with great hardware, but that the software department is late to get the memo. Even if Sony was able to skin many of the limitations in Gingerbread, it’s still no Ice Cream Sandwich. Notice that all my Cons are software-oriented though. I’ve got to hand it to Sony for trying though. They don’t do everything that other competitors do, but what they do, they do well. The device is fast, performs well and is stunning in the things that matter like its screen and camera performance. There are also little things like LiveWare Manager that make this device act like a true “Smart” phone. Having music start while plugging-in your headphones may be nonsense to many, but it’s something basic that everybody else should be doing.”

Recombu: “Great design. Great screen. Great UI. Great camera. Great connectivity. Great phone. Specs are always only part of the story. In turn, no quad-core will be no problem for the majority of Sony Xperia S users. That the phone is so consistent in other areas is its real saving grace and one that users wouldn’t fare badly dwelling on while basking in the phone’s 720p, fast-capture, 12-megapixel, PlayStation certified splendour.”

Reg Hardware: “Sony’s first phone post-Ericsson is an accomplished, handsome, speedy powerhouse which does most things well. Although it currently lacks Ice Cream Sandwich, it offers genuine innovation, like the NFC Smart Tags, a more-than-decent camera and a splendid display. But this is a huge handset which is sometimes hard to operate and those capacitive dots beneath the screen take practice to use properly. And like many other dual-core handsets, it suffers from a disappointing battery life. If you want this level of features and performance you’ll need to learn some power saving tricks to get you through the night.”

Slashgear: “The Xperia S finds itself launching at a tricky time for Sony. The company is partway between developing its own phones, entirely separate from Sony Ericsson of old, and between the last gasps of the ill-fated partnership. That tumultuous cradle shows itself in the absence of Ice Cream Sandwich, increasingly an inexcusable omission from what’s billed as a flagship. With Android 4.0, the Xperia S would’ve felt a far more rounded device. The hardware is distinctive and, for the most part, a success – the screen in particular is bright and pleasingly pixel-dense – and the Snapdragon processor, though short a few cores on other recent rivals, still keeps things churning at a satisfactory pace. It’s software that leaves the Sony feeling old beyond its time. In short, the first “true” Sony smartphone of 2012 is yet to arrive.”

Stuff: “The Xperia S may be the first Sony smartphone to drop the Ericsson moniker, but make no mistake – this is not a greenhorn smartphone. The combination of a powerful dual-core processor, a stunning 4.3in screen and smart NFC and media sharing capability make the Sony Xperia S one of the best Android devices currently available, besting the flagship Samsung Galaxy Nexus in most areas bar the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. If you want to stray over from the Apple camp and try the very best that Android has to offer, you couldn’t go far wrong with the Sony Xperia S.”

Tech Radar: “This handset may not be cheap – and it may feel like a Sony Ericsson without the Ericsson bit printed on the front – but we are really impressed with what Sony has done for its first solo foray. Is it worth buying? At £450 sim-free, it’s not cheap but it is one of the better handsets out there and one that we found encouraged a few “What is that?” questions from iPhone owning friends. But of course, that is before the Samsung Galaxy S3 is announced and we’ve a feeling that when that happens, this may just end up looking like another Xperia handset. But for now at least, we’d definitely urge you to consider it.”

Trusted Reviews: “With a great HD screen, 12MP camera and a few quirky extras, the Sony Xperia S should be right up there with the best of the rest but it doesn’t quite come together. The screen isn’t quite as good as we’d hope and the camera is well below expectations. Meanwhile the design, although quite nice, doesn’t really wow us. It is still an excellent phone, just not the barnstormer it could’ve been.”

The Verge: “Ultimately, as forgiving as you may choose to be about the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich, there’s no getting around the fact that the Xperia S is the sort of phone Sony (Ericsson) could have released three months ago. It has the same dual-core processor, the same display characteristics, and the same operating system as the HTC Rezound, which went on sale in the US in November. While HTC has already announced an upgrade to the Rezound in the form of the new HTC One X — with a faster processor and Android 4.0 preloaded — Sony seems content to sprinkle confetti atop hardware rapidly slipping from the top of the pile. The Xperia S isn’t a bad phone, it’s just not particularly good at any one thing. I find this disappointing because Sony’s brand ethos has always been about conquering the heights of technology, not settling for a moderately good device in the middle of the pack. Judged by the company’s own lofty standards, then, a flagship phone that fails to at least momentarily claim the title of best-in-class has to be considered a failure.”

  • Asad Mulla

    cNet says “crossing swords with the big boys”. What makes them think sony is a small company.

  • Add1hunter

    Well I have had one for about a week now, and it is brilliant!

    The build quality is better than I expected, and the screen is just amazing!!!!

    In short, it feels great in the hand and is great to use, really happy with my phone

  • Choosen1

    I dont like to read Cnet reviews on Android devices, they are completly sold to Apple. Just hate them ://

  • WaelFaddah

    i agree, although i do think the screen is a little too bright at night at the lowest setting, little more sound volume in the headset please.  but what i hate with a passion, is the cover that covers the micro USB outlet, have you tried to charge your phone at night?  Good luck 
     

  • Precisely my thought!

    Also, this is far from Sony’s flagship, yet they’re comparing it with the competitions flagships that are way more pricey

  • Guest

    So far the battery life reports are mixed.  Would like to have a better idea as to whether it is actually good or not.

  • You can cut it with a pair of scissors if you’d like naked ports

  • adsada_arc

     the photo comparison between the iPhone was a joke!

  • Rene Pedroso

    It’s a ”PHONE” with some great toys on it that I personally like

    1. It’s Sony2. PS Certified
    2. NFC
    4  HD all day
    5. 12MP Shooter
    6. Media Powerhouse – Music/Video Unlimited, Netflix, Slingplayer, Crackle, HBO/Max Go, Playon, Ustream etc…
    7. EXCELLENT Build quality
    8. Intergration with my Tablet S, Vaio, Bravia TV’s etc…

    The ”PHONE” is just flat out awesome. Trust me when I say they all will be on the bandwagon once Sony gets it right. And what I mean by right is…

    1. Releasing the Flagship device with the most current UI
    2. Stop making so many devices and just make ”ONE” Flagship

  • nfs2010

    Dear XperiaBlog, what’s your thought about the battery life? I’d take your thoughts much more seriously. I find some reviews really annoying as they just can’t go beyond benchmarks and chipsets! This phone has a lot of new stuff including 720p display and 12 MP camera compared to previous years flagships (4S, GS2, etc).  It all should boil down to real life usage and Xperia S seems to do pretty well in that respect.

  • Asad Mulla

     Same as Gadget Show. Apple always wins.

  • Add1hunter

    Yeah I have has that problem too, driving me mad especially as the x10 had a decent one

  • Add1hunter

    Personally, I haven’t run out of battery in 1 day, but I doubt I could make 2 days

  • stupid cnet how  can the first gen cam better than second gen they r iasslickers

  • BillyLondon

    Everything about my Xperia S is great apart from the battery life. Not sure if it’s only me though. I use the phone constantly and I always leave the data or wifi on. It lasts only about 6-7 hours.

  • trowfd

     to be honest, if you use a smart phone with a large screen constantly, 6-7 hours sounds pretty good.

  • nfs2010

     Thanks! I’d be more than happy if it makes a whole day with some charge left.

  • DragonClaw

    This Sony Flagship model is obviously one of the best cell phones out there. It is really cool, with awesome features.
    The HTC One X, though is the first quad core is pretty useless as none of the games require three cores to operate. And 1GB RAM is not really much for a 1.5 quad + 1 core devive. It will need more power of the RAM to unleash the quad poweress. more over, the concept of quad cores will be useful after the launch of JellyBeans 5.0, as that OS aims at mobile COMPUTING. That’s why, may be the release of Samsung galaxy SIII was postponed. Samsung will surely pop a better RAm, if their flagship will be a quad.
    And not to worry for the SONY people. The leaked prices, tell us of SoNY Hayabusa (this will be the cell phone with all the features of U, P, S and sola, put into one) and of SONY MINT I. Both will surely be on top for atleast some days.
    All that Sony should take care. They should make designs at par with their uber cool Arc S. And then, iPhone should be what people will consider after the droids…

  • YuuriAyano

    I LOLed reading Engadget’s review especially at the camera part. They’re making it too obvious they’re Apple fans 

  • Martin Wasley

    Had the beast 10 days now, and for the first few days battery life was poor, it has improved drastically over the last 3 or 4 days though. In ‘normal’ use, i.e. as a day to day phone it’s using around 2% per hour. When I’m in the office or home, I turn off 3g as there is WiFi, 3g is a battery killer, I only turn it on when I’m in the car or walking somewhere. Push is turned off, and I poil for mail on 2 accounts avery 20 minutes, no one needs a reply so urgently they cannot wait twent minutes. Bluetooth off until in the car. My ‘S’ came without tags, but I have some on order to do the settings for me automatically. I have juice defender, but I’ve turned it off for now to see if it makes that much difference.

    SO… if you want to watch video or play games for hours, yes, I have Angry Birds too, then get a backup pack, it’s like a PSP, I had one for that too; but as a business class phone, it hits the mark perfectly. There are of course a few tweaks I would personally like to be made to the apps, but in general I find mail, browsing etc good; I have tried all of the mail apps and the browser apps too, just to see which is best.

    I came from an Iphone 3GS, I’m not tempted to go back. My wife has a 4GS and she is a bit envious.

  • Truong Hoang Nam

    When will S update to ICS ? I’m in love with my S now :)

  • JK use Sony

    i had used it for 2 days, i like it very much. i had used sony mobile for a long time from generation to generation, this one XS is lightning fast due to strong reception signal as compared with my disposed ARC. Worth trying if u are not that type either ICS or none, and enjoy photo/video.

  • I’m sure he meant that they’re a small company when it comes to phones… They are getting up there with this new lineup, though.

  • Heh, to me the most annoying thing is that they’re so hard to get on again! :p

  • Ghostrider

    Hi xperiablog and guys around… Can someone who has used this phone extensively, Please report about the in-call volume of this phone??? I mean i owned xperia x10 which was awful, own the xperia arc which is loud but not as loud as my w995 used to be…. And as none of any reviews mentioned above talk at all about the incall volume through the phone headset, a user review would be much appreciated :)))) is it loud enough to hear in crowd?

  • AlexBurnout

    Best phone of 2012

  • Pradeekulal

    Supur phone if u compering any thing …..
    Somebody else told me to buy and I was broght xperia s very good phone

  • Pingback: Xperia S review roundup #2 | Xperia Blog()

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