Sony Xperia S Android phone
Sony Xperia S review: A great looking smartphone that has a few annoying flaws.
- Excellent display
- Slick performance and user interface
- Decent battery life
- No expandable memory
- Terrible capacitive shortcut keys
- Still waiting for Ice Cream Sandwich
The Sony Xperia S has a great screen, a very good camera and provides a slick user experience. However, it lacks expandable memory and a removeable battery, is still waiting for the latest Android software update and its capacitive shortcut buttons are unresponsive at best. Overall, the Xperia S is a great looking phone, but it could have been a much better one.
Price$ 579.00 (AUD)
Sony's Xperia S Android phone is the company's first product release following its acquisition of the Sony Ericsson joint venture last October. The Xperia S has a great screen, a good camera and looks every bit the premium device, but it has too many niggling flaws to immediately recommend.
Not just a bland, black slab
The Xperia S is the start of a new line of Sony phones called Xperia NXT and on first glance, there is definitely a lot to like about this phone. The design is simple and elegant — it's basically a square, flat block with a curved back that gives it a unique look in an otherwise boring market of black slabs. The Xperia S is just about the perfect weight — it's light enough not to be a burden to carry around, but heavy enough that it doesn't feel like a cheap toy.
The top, bottom, back and sides of the Xperia S feature a soft feeling plastic finish which is very kind to fingerprints, though the same can't be said about the front of the handset which is a glossy fingerprint magnet. We like the well positioned power key, but both the volume and dedicated camera button should be raised more to provide better tactility. We also dislike the fiddly, flimsy feeling plastic covers that hide the HDMI and micro-USB ports on either side.
The most distinctive design feature of the Xperia S is a transparent band below the screen with back, home and menu key labels. If you look closely, you can see a grid inside the transparent bar, which Sony says is part of the Xperia S' antenna system. The band has a soft, white backlight when the screen is on which does look attractive, though the colour of the light can't be altered.
On first glance you would expect this bar to house the back, home and menu shortcut keys but this is not the case. The bar is simply a backlit label for the capacitive buttons, which are denoted by small dots above the labels. These buttons are without doubt the worst aspect of the Xperia S. In my experience they responded about one in every three presses, are poorly positioned too close to the bottom of the screen and are simply a waste of space that just makes the phone longer than it should be. We can only hope this issue is resolved in a future software update.
Even more questionable than the transparent strip is the fact that the Xperia S has a removable rear cover despite the fact you can't change the battery. There's no microSD card slot either, so we can't understand why Sony didn't just use a slot loading micro SIM card slot on the side of the device instead of a removable cover that is quite simply pointless.
The best feature of the Sony Xperia S is its 4.3in LED-backlit LCD display. It has a HD resolution of 1280x720, the same resolution as the Google's flagship Galaxy Nexus. It also has a pixels per inch (ppi) count of 342. As a comparison, the iPhone 4S's "retina" display has a lower ppi of 326, while the Galaxy Nexus also has a lower ppi of 316.
The end result of these impressive numbers is super sharp and crisp text, even when zoomed in, excellent image quality for both photo and video content and truly outstanding sunlight legibility. While the Xperia S's LCD panel might lack the true vibrant colours and excellent viewing angles that AMOLED screens are capable of, there is no doubting that this is one of the best smartphone screens we've reviewed.
The Xperia S also comes with Sony's Mobile Bravia engine feature. This is the same technology seen on previous Sony Ericsson phones like the XPERIA Arc, the XPERIA Arc S, and the XPERIA Ray. It claims to enhance sharpness, contrast and colour saturation of photos and videos while minimising digital image noise. It worked well on previous Sony Ericsson phones we tested and the same applies to the Xperia S here.
A nice touch is the fact that Sony pre-installs a screen protector on the Xperia S from the factory. It's barely noticeable unless you look really close but considering this is an extra usually bought seperately, it's a welcomed inclusion. Disappointingly, there is no ambient light sensor so the Xperia S won't adjust brightness depending on the level of light like most other smartphones do.
Next page: Software, performance, camera and more
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 2 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 3 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 4 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung to detail new Tizen OS for smart home appliances, IoT devices
- HPE is bringing Optane storage to Unix servers
- HP rolls out patch to fix keylogging bug in certain laptops
- Some HP PCs are recording your keystrokes
- Rumor suggests the Note8 will be a bigger S8+ that adds a missing feature
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Huawei P10 smartphone review
- Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTBusiness Analyst - TelecommunicationsNSW
- FTDatabase Engineer (Oracle)ACT
- FTUAT CoordinatorQLD
- CCChange AnalystVIC
- CCCCNP Network EngineerVIC
- CCSalesforce DeveloperNSW
- FTNetwork EngineerACT
- FTSystem Support Analyst, ERPNSW
- FTTeam Leader Solution DeliveryQLD
- FTIT Command Centre Support EngineerVIC
- FTDashboard Developer | up to $92 p/hrVIC
- FTLearning & Development Consultant, Wealth ManagementNSW
- FTLead Drupal DeveloperQLD
- FTApplication Support EngineerNSW
- TPProject Test ManagerQLD
- CCData AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Project ManagerNSW
- CCSenior Communications Advisor - Australian TelcoVIC
- TPLevel 1-3 Helpdesk OfficerQLD
- FTSenior Software EngineerACT
- FTSystem Analyst - IntegrationQLD
- TPAssistant Change Manager | System Implementation ProjectQLD
- FTIntegration and Implementation SpecialistVIC
- FTProject Manager HFC Capacity ManagementVIC