Emerging Technology

GADGET WATCH: Sony Xperia S

Patrick Stafford /

The flurry of smartphones this year has created a myriad of choices, but it’s becoming too hard just to pick one. So it comes down to tiny differences – the size of the screen, the quality of the camera.

 

Sony hasn’t had the best success with its run of smartphones, but the Xperia S has some good buzz. So can it stand up against the might of Apple and HTC?

Hardware and features

The Sony Xperia S is an Android-based smartphone, with a 4.3 inch screen, powered by a 1.5Ghz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage.

The device features a 12.1 megapixel front camera, capable of 1080p video recording, and a 1.3 megapixel rear camera at 720p resolution.

Connectivity-wise, the device features a micro-USB port, an HDMI 2.0 port and the usual audio jack, while it also features WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC.

What’s the consensus?

One of the first things users will notice about the Xperia S is the plastic bar that runs across the phone at the bottom. The bar features LED lights, but as some reviewers point out, it doesn’t necessarily make the phone look any better.

At Engadget, while the publication says it enjoys the bar, “it makes the device feel longer than it needs to be”.

And there are also some problems with the appearance of the device, with the publication noting there are various seams around the plastic, port covers, and around the screen as well. These gaps can introduce dust, and can also cause port covers to open.

“There’s an issue with the navigation buttons too. The touch-sensitive spots for Back, Home and Options are nowhere near their corresponding icons in the translucent bar, and they’re unmarked, save for three barely visible silver dots,” it says.

Thankfully, inside the phone is a different story. Over at CNET the publication points out the decision to use a dual-core processor keeps it on par with other phones of its calibre.

“We have encountered a few small pauses in performance across the user experience, but nothing that really holds this phone back. It doesn’t feel like the latest and greatest, but it certainly runs smoothly,” it points out.

Battery life was fine, it said, although noted this was a standard it “hoped to see superseded”.

One of the most impressive features, CNET said, was the camera. With the 12-megapixel rear lens, it’s one of the better cameras on the market, and CNET said photos look great on the screen – although have some noise on larger displays.

Part of the problem with Android phones is the manufacturer can include their own software. Thankfully, TechRadar points out Sony has given users “some nice new widgets to play with”, including photo frames and music controls.

“That Bravia screen really adds to the experience and everything just looks crisp and fresh. Definitely a plus for Sony here and we would go so far as to say that this is as good as Apple’s Retina display. This has to be seen to be believed.”

It did, however, note that unlike the Galaxy S2, there isn’t an option to open the Notification Bar by pulling down, or some other small features.

“It’s not a big issue as there is a toggle widget on another homescreen but we are fans of the HTC Sense/Samsung Galaxy way of doing it.”

Who’s it for?

The Xperia S is a great phone for consuming media. If you’re taking pictures, or watching video, then it’s a great pick that will make all of those media-related activities much easier.

But if you’re a business user, and you have some specific things you like in a smartphone, it may be a little less cut and dry. This is by no means a bad choice for a smartphone, but it’s for a very specific type of user – try it out before you make a full decision.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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