Sony's pricey, stylish Xperia S is packed with multimedia tricks but is undone by a slow processor and lackluster display.

- Brian Bennett , Cnet 

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.

- Chris Hall , Pocket-lint 

Reviews summary

7.3/10AVG.
RATING
Based on 25 reviews

There’s no other way to describe the Sony Xperia S other than a very capable multimedia device that’s filled to the brim with top-of-the-line hardware and software features. Currently, it is Sony’s flagship Android smartphone and is considered by many as one of the most handsome phones available on the mobile phone shelves.

Sony smartphones—and yes, that includes the ones that were released under the Sony Ericsson brand back when it was still alive—have always been characterized as having excellent built-in cameras. The Sony Xperia S is of course no exception. It boasts a built-in 12-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, plus it comes with several nice extras such as touch focus, face and smile detection, 3D sweep panorama, image stabilization, and geo-tagging capabilities. The rest of the phone just further emphasizes Sony’s focus on multimedia for the Xperia S. The display is an LED-backlit LCD touchscreen that supports multi-touch and measures 4.3-inches diagonally. It offers a native resolution of 720x1280 and is able to display images with rich color and textures with the help of the proprietary Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine. A front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera makes taking portrait photos easier. There’s also an excellent built-in loudspeaker that can be used not only with the music player but also with the built-in FM radio.

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With all of that said, the Sony Xperia S is also one of the most powerful smartphones that you can get in its price range. It runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor, has 1GB of RAM, and comes with 32GB of internal storage. It also has a whole host of wireless features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, HSDPA data, GPS, and even NFC. All of these come in extra handy when trying to make the most out of the built-in software as part of the default operating system, which is Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

All in all, the Sony Xperia is kind of like a smartphone that’s in a league of its own. If the world famous branding or the striking good looks don’t get you, perhaps the hardware and software features will.

Need to Know: Sony Xperia S

1. Default operating system can be upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the 4th quarter of 2012. (The Good)

2. Makes use of cutting-edge technology such as NFC capability to let on-the-go users enjoy unique features such as SmartTags. (The Good)

3. Although made mostly out of plastic materials, it still ends up feeling quite heavy in the hand. (The Bad)

4. Having a large screen makes it less ergonomic than many other phones on the market. (The Bad)


Specs summary

Screen
4.3"

The Sony Xperia S's screen is 4.3 inches with 720 x 1280 pixels resolution.

Processor
1.5GHz

There is a Qualcomm MSM8260 Dual-core 1.5 GHz processor (CPU).

OS

The phone runs on the Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread (Update Available: 4.1.2 Jelly Bean) operating system (OS).

Camera
12+ MP
You can take photos or capture video with the phone's onboard 12+ megapixel camera. There is also a secondary front facing camera useful for video chat and self portraits.
Storage
32 MB

Internal memory is 32 MB. No external card slot is available for expansion.

Battery
1750mAh

The phone is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion), 1750 mAh battery. Sony's performance ratings are 19 days standby time, 450 minutes (2G), 510 minutes (3G).


Prices (Where to Buy)


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Reviews summary

7.3/10AVG.
RATING
Based on 25 reviews

There’s no other way to describe the Sony Xperia S other than a very capable multimedia device that’s filled to the brim with top-of-the-line hardware and software features. Currently, it is Sony’s flagship Android smartphone and is considered by many as one of the most handsome phones available on the mobile phone shelves.

Sony smartphones—and yes, that includes the ones that were released under the Sony Ericsson brand back when it was still alive—have always been characterized as having excellent built-in cameras. The Sony Xperia S is of course no exception. It boasts a built-in 12-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, plus it comes with several nice extras such as touch focus, face and smile detection, 3D sweep panorama, image stabilization, and geo-tagging capabilities. The rest of the phone just further emphasizes Sony’s focus on multimedia for the Xperia S. The display is an LED-backlit LCD touchscreen that supports multi-touch and measures 4.3-inches diagonally. It offers a native resolution of 720x1280 and is able to display images with rich color and textures with the help of the proprietary Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine. A front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera makes taking portrait photos easier. There’s also an excellent built-in loudspeaker that can be used not only with the music player but also with the built-in FM radio.

Show more

With all of that said, the Sony Xperia S is also one of the most powerful smartphones that you can get in its price range. It runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor, has 1GB of RAM, and comes with 32GB of internal storage. It also has a whole host of wireless features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, HSDPA data, GPS, and even NFC. All of these come in extra handy when trying to make the most out of the built-in software as part of the default operating system, which is Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

All in all, the Sony Xperia is kind of like a smartphone that’s in a league of its own. If the world famous branding or the striking good looks don’t get you, perhaps the hardware and software features will.

Need to Know: Sony Xperia S

1. Default operating system can be upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the 4th quarter of 2012. (The Good)

2. Makes use of cutting-edge technology such as NFC capability to let on-the-go users enjoy unique features such as SmartTags. (The Good)

3. Although made mostly out of plastic materials, it still ends up feeling quite heavy in the hand. (The Bad)

4. Having a large screen makes it less ergonomic than many other phones on the market. (The Bad)

Own this phone?

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Reviews (7.3/10 Avg. rating)


A powerful phone with superb functions

from TelecomTiger ( )

Multimedia lovers will like it for its excellent camera and screen, standard micro HDMI port, Great audio quality and huge storage. NFC technology inbuilt with1750 mAh strong battery life Xperia S lives up to the expectations. But its rectangular, sharp body does not fit into hands easily. On all ot... More

Multimedia lovers will like it for its excellent camera and screen, standard micro HDMI port, Great audio quality and huge storage. NFC technology inbuilt with1750 mAh strong battery life Xperia S lives up to the expectations. But its rectangular, sharp body does not fit into hands easily. On all other aspects, Xperia S gives tough fight to its rivals in every aspect.

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8/10

Flaunts an eye-catching design, Android 4.0, and a connection to Sony's large movie and music library

from Cnet ( )

I have to say I had high hopes for the Sony Xperia S. Its aggressive futuristic style will certainly turn heads, something few smartphones are capable of. There are risks to pushing the design envelope, however, and the Xperia S stumbles in places. Its capacitive buttons are tricky to operate and th... More

I have to say I had high hopes for the Sony Xperia S. Its aggressive futuristic style will certainly turn heads, something few smartphones are capable of. There are risks to pushing the design envelope, however, and the Xperia S stumbles in places. Its capacitive buttons are tricky to operate and the phone's illuminated band may be slickly distinctive but is more style than substance.

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6/10

The execution just wasn't there to give the Xperia S an edge over its competitors

from MobileBurn ( )

The Sony Xperia S is a device I expected more from. I liked the look of it from the very start, but found that the fit and finish, and the display, just come up lacking. There was potential, as Sony showed with its fine software, but in the end the execution just wasn't there to give the Xperia S an... More

The Sony Xperia S is a device I expected more from. I liked the look of it from the very start, but found that the fit and finish, and the display, just come up lacking. There was potential, as Sony showed with its fine software, but in the end the execution just wasn't there to give the Xperia S an edge over its competitors. There are many that will like, or even love, the Xperia S, but there are much better phones on the market today.

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Attractive, unique design with great HD display

from NDTV ( )

Can Sony Xperia S be your next smartphone? Well, if you are ready to wait for ICS and don't have an issue with a generation-old processor, Xperia S has a lot to offer. It packs in quite a punch, has great display, excellent battery life and a beautiful design.

Can Sony Xperia S be your next smartphone? Well, if you are ready to wait for ICS and don't have an issue with a generation-old processor, Xperia S has a lot to offer. It packs in quite a punch, has great display, excellent battery life and a beautiful design.

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7/10

The Xperia S does not live up to its potential, but that is largely due to Android 2.3

from Mobile Syrup ( )

The Xperia S was an opportunity for Sony to jump into 2012 at the top of its game and release an unforgettable Android flagship that would be the envy of the industry. In many ways they’ve done just that: a stunningly gorgeous, well-made handset, with one of the best displays in the industry and  a... More

The Xperia S was an opportunity for Sony to jump into 2012 at the top of its game and release an unforgettable Android flagship that would be the envy of the industry. In many ways they’ve done just that: a stunningly gorgeous, well-made handset, with one of the best displays in the industry and  a superlative camera experience. But an unfortunate combination of aging software and poor battery life muddles what could have been a great success. If this had been released even six months ago I might be signing a different tune, and I hope when Sony and Rogers release Android 4.0 I’ll be able to revisit the device favourably. For the avid photographer, the Xperia S may be a better choice than the One X, and the two-step shutter button is fantastic. So too is the build quality, which seems better able to stand up to punishment than any previous Xperia phone. For avid media watchers, the combination of a 720p screen, HDMI out and Video Unlimited may be the ticket, and if you’re already entrenched in the Sony ecosystem it’s a no-brainer.

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7.2/10

No microSD card slot, pretty good screen, audio quality is decently clear

from GSMArena ( )

Sony without Ericsson. Xperia S a couple of cores short and a year late to the flagship party. Doubters may still have a point there but the Xperia S has more things going for it than against.With a top-notch camera and excellent screen, standard microHDMI port, very good audio quality and plenty of... More

Sony without Ericsson. Xperia S a couple of cores short and a year late to the flagship party. Doubters may still have a point there but the Xperia S has more things going for it than against.

With a top-notch camera and excellent screen, standard microHDMI port, very good audio quality and plenty of storage, the Xperia S will readily meet your multimedia needs. As long as you install a proper video player from the Play Store that is, as the stock one just doesn't cut it.

We didn't run into a situation where the available processing power wasn't enough, so for the time being the dual-core vs. quad-core argument seems like a matter of pride rather than performance.

Sony are trying to infuse their phones with the company's innovative spirit and they've done interesting things with the NFC connectivity and the close integration with other multimedia devices in the house. The TV launcher that can be controlled with the TV remote was quite clever we thought, but in typical Sony fashion, you're likely to run into compatibility issues (unless you have a BRAVIA HDTV).

The Sony Xperia S is aggressively priced, and offers a lot of bang for the buck. Still, there are plenty phones that would like to challenge it.

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No means of expanding internal storage, less than impressive battery life

from Mobile88 ( )

There is much to like about the Sony Xperia S, and while most people would not notice the lack of the Sony-Ericsson logo on it, Sony is heading in the right direction with this; The dual-core processor kept everything running smoothly and quickly, while the 12-megapixel camera was in a class of its... More

There is much to like about the Sony Xperia S, and while most people would not notice the lack of the Sony-Ericsson logo on it, Sony is heading in the right direction with this; The dual-core processor kept everything running smoothly and quickly, while the 12-megapixel camera was in a class of its own, providing some of the best image quality we have seen on a smartphone so far. And if Sony pulls it off correctly, it is a great addition to the ecosystem of Sony devices which you may own.

However, there are certain issues that detract from the overall experience, namely the limited 32GB internal storage. Sure, it might sound a lot, but if you are anything like this writer, most of that space will be taken by media files and games that take up space in the hundreds of megabytes, so you will eventually find the lack of a microSD slot a problem. Also, the touch keys can be somewhat iffy in responsiveness at times, and the less than impressive battery life calls for a somewhat frugal usage.

With all that said and done, the Xperia S provides some of the best on-the-go entertainment experiences around, and is a great alternative if you are looking for a powerhouse device that is not made by Apple or Samsung.

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High-quality display, great camera, decent storage

from The Inquirer ( )

As soon as you get the Xperia S out of the box you can't but help notice its shape. Its 128x64x10.6mm dimensions make it longer and narrower than many other handsets on the market, and it's comparable in size to the HTC Evo 3D. The handset is available in black or white and is a very angular design... More

As soon as you get the Xperia S out of the box you can't but help notice its shape. Its 128x64x10.6mm dimensions make it longer and narrower than many other handsets on the market, and it's comparable in size to the HTC Evo 3D. The handset is available in black or white and is a very angular design with squared off edges rather than the normal rounded shape. It has a curved back that is made out of black plastic. This design might not suit everyone - we found the phone fine to use for making calls, but more awkward to hold for long periods in landscape mode for typing.

The display is undeniably gorgeous. It's a 4.3in TFT touchscreen boasting 1280x720 resolution with 16 million colours. As a reference, the Iphone 4S features a 3.5in display with 960x640 resolution, while the Samsung Galaxy S II has a 4.3in Super AMOLED 800x480 resolution screen.

The camera is a real selling point of the Xperia S. It offers a 12.1MP camera with 16x digital zoom, facial recognition and auto focus. There are several shooting modes to choose from, including 3D or normal panoramic image, allowing you to slowly pan around a scene and create extra wide shots. There's also a 1.3MP front-facing camera.

The mobile OS is the older Android 2.3 Gingerbread version, with an upgrade due in the second quarter to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). Since it's an Android phone, you get lots of pre-loaded Google apps, including Gmail and Google Talk and other standard features like the pull-down notifications bar with updates on the latest emails, Google+ posts, text messages and other apps.

Inside the phone there's a speedy 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm chip and 1GB of RAM. The internal storage should keep you going for a while, with 32GB of embedded Flash memory. About 25.8GB of this is available for storage, with the rest taken up by the Android software and pre-installed items such as images and videos.

If you do run low on storage, you won't be able to add to the internal storage, so Sony is offering all Xperia S owners 50GB of free cloud-based storage, which you can access through the Box app on the Android Market. The Xperia S also requires a micro SIM rather than the standard size SIM card.

Poor battery life is the only real drawback on this phone. In our experience, it was really poor. Sony quotes talk time as up to eight hours 30 minutes, standby time at up to 420 hours and music listening time at 25 hours, but we didn't reach anywhere near those durations.

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6/10

The Xperia S has a great 12.1-megapixel camera, but is let down by its screen and lack of Android 4.0

from Expert Reviews ( )

Despite the Xperia S's impressive specification, we can’t help but feel disappointed; the screen's huge resolution is impressive, but it lacks the vibrancy of other phone displays we've seen recently. Performance, storage and battery life are all acceptable, but you'll have to wait a while for Andro... More

Despite the Xperia S's impressive specification, we can’t help but feel disappointed; the screen's huge resolution is impressive, but it lacks the vibrancy of other phone displays we've seen recently. Performance, storage and battery life are all acceptable, but you'll have to wait a while for Android 4.0. The HTC Sensation XE has just received the Android 4.0 update and has a better overall screen despite its lower resolution, so is a better option.

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6/10

HD screen is great, good overall performance, simple comfortable design

from TrustedReviews ( )

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, does... More

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.

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8/10

Darn, there are no reviews yet for this phone.