Sony Xperia S Review
- Premium build
- Fits well in the hand
- Excellent display
- Lots of internal storage Camera that works well for the most part
- Camera behaves badly during night shots
- Timescape UI feels boxy
- Needs Android ICS update quickly
Sony really needs to push the ICS updates out of the door, very quickly. The Xperia S seems to have everything in place - good hardware, excellent build quality and design and a very good display. However, Sony needs to get the UI sorted. When compared straight with the HTC Sense, the UI just looks boxy. But with the ICS update inevitable, this is a pretty decent device to buy.
It is quite rare to find a phone that is almost perfect. We were honoured to meet a second such device in quick succession. Close on the heels of the HTC One X came the Sony Xperia S. And both the phones, though they are in different smartphone categories, do most things right - the perfect translation of potential into performance.
Look & Feel
The Sony Xperia S has a very premium build quality. It feels worth the price, and no point of time does it look less expensive than what it really is. To start off, the transparent strip running below the display only breaks the darkness of the piano black glass. Labeled on this transparent strip are the three icons - return, home and options. However, the actual keys are the touch sensitive ones just above the strip, indicated by three tiny dots. The video-calling camera sits on the right top corner above the screen. Compare on either side of this glass, and it is like the city of Liverpool divided by the Mersey River - completely different from the other. While it is the darkly shiny bit around the display, the rubberized finish below it adds a contrasting dimension. Also, this rubberized finish flows all the way around to the back also.
Speaking of which, this finish of the rear panel is helpful when gripping the phone and typing with the same hand - the Xperia S doesn’t slip around as some phones do. Towards the top is the 12MP camera, which we feel is a little too far that way. We shall get to that point later. Sony haven’t given the Xperia S the unibody design goodness, which means the rear panel can be opened to access the micro SIM slot. However, the battery is locked away from user access. We would have loved to see this phone with the unibody build, and the micro SIM slot could have been implemented on a spine. There are covers for the HDMI port as well as the micro USB port. While the covers themselves are quite solid, the hinge holding them is surprisingly flimsy plastic. We would be very careful every time we plug in the phone for charging, fearing even the slightest rough use will break it.
Two issues with the design elements though. First, the touch sensitive keys below the display aren’t easy to get used to immediately. The finger will always assume the transparent strip is the actual key, whereas it isn't! Secondly, the camera could have been placed a bit better. Currently, it is too close to the top edge, and in most scenarios of holding the phone in landscape mode to click a picture, you will have to be extra careful of not blocking it.
The build quality is brilliant overall, with a definite premium feel to it. Fits well in the hand, despite multiple curves and flat areas converging on one front. The transparent strip may be perceived as a gimmick, but it silently brings in a bit of illumination to an otherwise dark “yet another phone” design. And that accentuates the other likeable things with the design as well. While the Xperia S doesn’t stand out in a crowd of smartphones by some shouty design elements, this one definitely does it smartly.
Also, check out our video review of the Sony Xperia S:
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