66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2012
I consider my self a veteran of Sony Ericsson phones dating back to the X10 to the Arc and now the S. I was waiting and waiting for the Ion promised by Sony and At&T but they decided to ignore the US so since this was available now as an international phone and further investigation revealed this phone would work fine on At&T networks, I decided to get it. I could not bring myself to give this phone 4 stars but I also feel there are a couple real drawbacks from making this a perfect phone but there are no options for 4.5 stars so I have this phone 5 because I love it so much.
First off, the design is classy and can only be rivaled by the IPhone. This phone blows away Samsung phones in terms of design. This is Sony's first phone without dedicated physical buttons for home back and menu. This adds to the physical beauty but unfortunately the touch keys are not as responsive. With practice it almost becomes seamless and unnoticeable but it may become annoying if you don't get the hang of it, luckily I did.
The bar at the bottom of the phone is clear and serves a dual purpose. It serves as an antenna for the phone and also lights up with a light blue light when the phone is activated. This does help because it gives you an indication of where the home, menu and back keys are. Otherwise it is nearly impossible to touch the right spot in the dark. Unfortunately, I feel like Sony missed out a 3rd more useful and fun purpose. The bar could have lit up different colors to show notifications. Instead, the notification light is on the top left hand corner exactly like the X10. Blue is a text message, green is an email. This would have been awesome if there was an option to use the clear bar as notification not just for the pretty aspect of it all but because you could tell if you had a message from any angle. I feel like this flew over Sony's head as being an obvious great use for the bar.
The screen is beyond amazing. Full HD in all it's glory and blows away Iphone's Retina display and Samsung's OLED display. How do I know? My brother has the Iphone and my wife has the Samsung. Comparative views showed no contest people. This is truly the best phone display I have ever seen. I also heard on the internet that the pixel density was better but seeing it is believing it. Trust me, this screen is beautiful.
The camera was quite a disappointing. Megapixels mean absolutely nothing. Sony's 12 megapixel camera lost out to the iphone with my comparative tests. Iphone manage to beat this phone with pics. Not by much but enough for me to tell that Iphone's camera is better. Which is ironic because Iphones camera lens is made by Sony. Anyway, it takes fairly good pictures but certainly wont replace your professional camera. Furthermore, the focusing is excruciatingly slow. It takes a very long time to focus. I also didn't like that there was no option to silence the camera as in prior phones like the arc. The annoying sound could not be muted. The video camera tests fared better and it takes great video.
As far as software goes, Sony in a rare event for them; hit it out of the ball park on the software side. Normally Sony is renound for their hardware beauty but software has always been a weak point for Sony. I'm happy to report they have only improved on their software. Sony has learned it's lesson and did not mettle too much with the Android operating system. The only thing they did was ad a gorgeous skin over the android operating system. I can tell you, this is the best android skin out there without a doubt. Simple and classy. That's it, all they did was make this phone look pretty and with this display, they did a wonderful job. Even the stock screen savers included are gorgeous.
The common apps were also wonderful. The music app is much improved. I used to have a bought dedicated music app no more with this app. It finally has equalizer ability and the sound is Sony quality. they also added a wonderful convenient feature by allowing you to play pause and skip from the lock menu. So you don't have to go through steps to get to the app for these functions. Simply turn on the screen and touch from the lock screen. The other wonderful aspect is the video player. When you plug in your phone to your pc it recognises the phone as an Xperia S and brings up a menu for options such as transfers. I would suggest ignoring that and using your phone as a simple hard drive. All files are there for you to simply drag and drop if you want to add files. When you add video, the phone automatically converts the video to a format playable by the player. Prior SE phones did not have this capability and more importantly it plays HD video! I downloaded an HD movie and it converted the video for play back in all it's HD glory! WOW. Love it!
The phone is also fast. Significantly so thanks to the dual core processor. Comparing my SE Arc with this phone proves that speed has increased significantly thanks to the dual core processor. Web surfing is also quicker. Not much to say about the browser other than it does the job, no wonderful news there.
At this point I would say the phone is perfect but aside from the prior gripes with the camera and lack of dedicated home keys; there are some downsides to the phone. One is that this phone does not have an SD card slot for memory expansion. It already comes with a generous 32 gb memory but the potential to expand another 32 gb for total of 64 would have been awesome. The Sony ION had that capability but It is not as attractive as this phone and I got sick of waiting for a good Sony phone. So for those that want that ability, be prepared to wait. It also has a built in battery so there is no ability to swap batteries or have extras. Luckily, the battery life on this phone is pretty good lasting pretty much all day with normal use. Those are the major draw backs. It also is only capable of 3g speeds no LTE as the Sony ION is expected to have. For me, these are things I can live with.
Another aspect that had me asking a lot of questions is the ability for this phone to even work as it is an international phone. Rest assured, this phone works perfectly fine with 3g on AT&T's network. The nice thing about AT&T is that their network is universal so the phone works great. The bad news is that I don't think this phone works perfectly with any other network. I heard it does not work with verizon at all and T-mobile only works on 2g. If you have AT&T it will work perfectly. The other thing is that this phone only takes Micro Sim cards. That's an easy fix, just cut your regular sim card so it fits. The best way to do this is to get a sim card cutter sold on amazon. It's like a hole punch for sim cards.
I've had this phone for a month and waited to review it so that I would be very familiar with all functionality and report any and all problems I have had with it. This phone is truly awesome and my brother extremely envious after our comparative display tests. It's a shame Sony phones do not have traction in the US but at least I have one of the most unique and pretty phones out there. Plus no contract! You have to pay a pretty penny for it but if you can, it's totally worth it.
****UPDATE***** Well, I dropped my phone in the water. It miraculously survived with the only exception of the speaker. The call speakers still work. The reason I am writing this is because I bought the ION through AT & T at 99 dollars and realized how good the unlocked international S is after trying out the ION. I will not go into a review of the ION but what I will say is that AT & T has a habit of ruining good phones. I was so dissatisfied with he phone and experience that I decided to return it. At 99 dollars it is a bargain and if you don't have the money to buy an unlocked phone I would not blame you but that's how good the S is. I decided to keep a crippled phone.
***SECOND UPDATE on Android ICS**** So I upgraded to ice cream sandwhich and for the most part pleasantly surprised with the upgrade with a few small complaints which I hope are resolved with Jelly Bean.
Postives- Sony kept it's beautiful adnroid skin, The album, music and movie applications are even more beautiful than before if that's possible. The music application has changed to the sony famous walkman application and has improved the search feature as well as adding the gorgeous animations included on the Sony Tablet. New playlist feature is also added. The album includes pictures and video and is sorted by date as well as geo tagging. The clock feature is also improved giving you a beautiful screen saver when the alarm is on or off. The other features Sony already had such as dragging widgets to create folders. Battery life has been dramatically improved. Also liked the data monitoring feature, really handy for those of us stuck on AT&T with ridiculous rate plans. There is a face recognition feature but I didn't bother, stuck to code. The upgrade also appeared to improve performance making the OS more stable and smoother. Many of the applications also improved adding more beautiful animations and features geared towards ICS.
Negatives- The menu button is now pretty much worthless as the settings menu is now only accessible by dragging it down. Even though you somewhat get used to it after ongoing use it is always somewhat awkard to get into the settings. I'm not sure why they did that as the menu button is the fasted way to get to the settings menu. This was an ICS addition, not sony's fault. They also got rid of the screen capture feature when pushing down on the power button. Instead now, you have to hold the power button while pressing down on the volume. Really went backwards on that. You still have the power off and airplane mode feature when you hold down the power button but why take away the screen capture and make it an awkward button holding experience? The other real annoying thing is that the left side of the notification bar has ridicoulously small print that is dimmed make it extremely difficult to see notifications for my battery life, texts, etc.... there is no option to increase size and adjust brightness to match the right side of the notifications (Time, bars, wifi). This was not Sony's doing either, ALL ICS. All in all not huge grips but hopefully something Jellybean will fix. There is a lot more to this update but these were the features I was interested in. If someone were to ask me if they should update, I would say yes but warn them that it will take a little bit to get used to.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2012
This phone is AMAZING, elegant design, best display ever (342ppi), 12MP Sony quality snapper. touch button can be tricky at first but you will get used to it soon and it is very responsive. never had a problem with it. very good value for the money.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2012
The phone is exellent, responses very fast and the touch screen doesn't have any problems with the detection, the camera is amazing, take photos in 9Mp (16:9) and 12Mp (4:3), also can take photos in 3D to view in a TV 3D, have a HDMI cable and Usb cable. buy this phone is a good decision.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2012
The particular Xperia S I bought is a German Generic unbranded unlocked one.
The manufacturing date and code is 12W15 ABAE. Which means no LCD yellow tint issues.
There are tons of video reviews around the internet so you can google that.
Sony just started the ICS 4.0.4 update for Xperia S. After the update I feel like its a new phone!
Most Android fans will tell you that this phone does not have the most cutting-edge hardware, i.e. quad-core CPUs..etc...etc..
But in normal daily usage and gaming you won't feel the differences between dual-core and quad-core.
At least Xperia S has a unique design, 12MP Camera with Sony Exmor R sensor, highest DPI LCD screen.
Hardware gets obsolete very fast, but a good design and good looking phone can last much longer.
Of course Xperia S has its cons as every phone in the market. Currently I don't feel its cons out-weight its pros and its uniqueness.
Just remember get one with the first two digits of manufacturing code at least AB, not AA.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2012
This phone is awesome. The screen is amazing, and I haven't even peeled off the screen protector that makes it look matte. Camera looks good. Feels solid. Loud speakers. The battery is the only problem, have to charge at the end of the day but it lasts pretty well for me unless you spend the whole day downloading apps. For some reason the phone turns off overnight when I wake up the battery is dead. I think I need to turn off WiFi when I go to sleep because WiFi uses about 11% of the battery. Overall, best phone I've ever used.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2012
I did a lot of article reviews reading on this phone and finally decided to click on the purchase button. There are plenty of reviews out there that will tell you the pros and cons, and most of them matching this phone against the Iphone 4S, and of course they said it is no where compared to the Iphone4s. Im writing this review based on my own personal experience with it. Im happy, not too happy though, with this phone. Screen is beautiful; aps load fast; organization of widgets and such are a bit confusing, but you can rearragne them to your own preferences. Camera is great, although a bit lacking in some editing options, and that seemed to be one of the problems I have with this phone: everything seemed to missing something, for me it's the delete options of files I don't like right when I want to (instead I have to go to a different place to do it), but perhaps this is because I only own the phone for a week. Battery is the same as most phone I owned (including the Iphone4S), needing a recharge at the end of the day, which I seen not as a problem because you can just plug it in the charger and off to bed you go. My other problem with this phone is the materials it was made with - plastic. Sure its design looks "un-generic", yet as I have phones that made of fiberglass, aluminium, even titanium, I can't help but feel the phone is a bit cheap and, well, plasticky. There are gaps between the pieces, making it looks like it was hastily put together (if you seen an Iphone or samsung, you will see they have a 1-piece feel). Dust will collect along these gaps/edges. The flimsy removable battery is the most annoying to me... I personally think a seperate Sim card slot that is ejectable would be better design. The phone size and weight feel fine to me, admittedly this is my biggest phone ever yet. It felt as thick as samsung wave and heavy as the Iphone 4S, a lot lighter than Nokia Arte!! An AT&T version with removable SDcard and LTE (Xperia Ion) is on the way if you are more of a tech spec person. As for me I love the design of the phone. Have not try to hook it up via hdmi mini cable (which included in the box, so I don't know why some reviewers said they have to go buy 1) to the Sony Bravia TV yet (I sounded like a sony fan huh??:). The 3 little "buttons" that are located inside the transparent bar on the phone have their sensor located on top of them, which are hard to see in the dark or at certain angles. The bar itself lit up, thus showing the "buttons" beautifully, but I wish it also does the same with the sensors. Most said they have problem pressing these sensors (which take a bit used to since you keep thinking of the "buttons" in the bar:) and it takes on average 3-4 touch to get them respond, but that is not so in my case. I found if you press your finger firmly on it, instead of just flick your finger across it as if it was the phone display, you WILL get a response. This phone will serve the purposes I buy it for, with more than enough specs and power to spare. Design is good but can definitely be improved, i.e. the bar could change color or "dance" whenever you touch the screen:( ! It may not be for everyone, but there are other phones out there with the similiar pricetags. Oh watching netflix on this phone is like watching it on my TV!! :D
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2012
Everything went smoothly. The package came in a nice internally bubble padded UPS bag. And the phone box came in on time was in perfect condition. Everything about the phone is just right and perfect. I looked up the phone a lot before I made the purchase and knew everything about it and knew what to expect from the phone and its features. I purchased it from FGS Trading and everything came in perfect condition. The phone works exactly how I expected it to. A limited number of Xperia S's had a overheating problem which caused a yellowish tint on the screen, but I didn't have that issue with my phone. Although the phone didn't have any power out of the box so I had to leave it on the charger for a bit before my first time turning it on. Otherwise, it's all good and it's still running strong for me.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2012
This product is excellent. It is the top of the technology. Meets my expectations prior to the purchase. I recommend it widely. I have not found anything that does not comply with the expected quality.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2012
The Xperia S is a stunning phone to look at. Having already read plenty of reviews and familiarized myself with the weak points of the device before purchasing it, I was ready to deal with the inconvenience of less-than-responsive buttons on the Android navigation bar, and a spotty experience updating and maintaining the device via my Mac.
However, ultimately, I ended up re-selling the device and returning to a vanilla Android 4.1.1 experience on my Galaxy Nexus.
- Stunning, rich, dense display, good overall system performance
- Excellent "theme" -- not invasive, and very stylish (if you like a themed experience...). I enjoyed lot of the widget behavior improvements and the overall "feel" of the themed OS under my finger.
- Sony's Walkman music app is awesome, and I was able to find a good Last.fm scrobbler to support it.
- Very poor battery life (half-day in my experience) with a built-in non-replaceable battery
- No HSPA+ support on T-Mobile Network so it was "Edge" network or nothing here in the US. I'm told that if I were using a SIM from AT&T, I would have had access to 3G. However, stepping from very fast "4G / faux-G" (HSPA+) T-Mobile coverage, all the way down to ether 2G, or 3G -- both options felt impossibly inferior and hard to tollerate.
- Though this phone was recently updated to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, the upgrade via Sony's proprietary software on my Mac failed a number of times, and was a hassle even when it worked. Also, this is *still* not the current version of Android. The device will always lag behind Google-updated devices in terms of OS version.
- "Playstation Certified" means nothing. There were about six games to choose from, and the experience was not good on this device -- which did not even come with the Playstation Market installed. Playing the titles via a huge swath of dodgy on-screen buttons that cover most of the game action was totally sub-par. It is a better experience to rip and play your own PS1 titles via an emulator on any other Android device. I had fooled myself into thinking that if I bought a "Playstation Certified" device, there would be more working titles or a better gameplay experience, but that really wasn't the case. Imagining that I'd be playing Xenogears, Final Fantasy, Grandia, Lunar... all my old favorite PS1 RPGs, was the thing I most looked forward to about this device when I purchased it, however none of those titles were available. In fact, Wild Arms was the only RPG option.
- Patchy software support via the Google Play Store was troubling -- nobody tests for the device, so you have to be ready to see apps behaving in nonstandard ways.
If I were an AT&T customer, a Windows user, and a non-gamer with a desk job so I could charge the device during the day -- I might have stayed with this device. If the above describes you, this is indeed a very sexy-looking device.
My advice is to confirm what network you will be operating on before you buy. Just because it's "GSM" doesn't mean you'll have a great experience on some networks. This is not a junk device -- it is very high-quality and it is obvious that Sony has put it's best foot forward, but there were a number of things that ultimately held my experience back to the point that I chose to move on.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2012
It took me hours and hours of research on getting a new android phone. I finally choose Sony Xperia S, a phone not many people would talk about, nor would they even heard about it. It isn't available on any US cellular carriers, and by no other means you have to order it online to actually have the opportunity to grasp and hold it. The closest phone to this beauty would be its bigger sibling, the Xperia Ion, that one may experience on any AT&T branches. Both are closely resembled, though some design cues might mean a whole lot difference on user experience.
Alright, enough of this babbling on my journey to buy this phone. Overall, the minimalistic design of Xperia S is what caught me the most. The placement of the cameras, all the mini buttons, the logo and the written SONY and Xperia words hasn't quirk me to the slightest bit. It is all perfectly placed, and to add on it, the presence of the transparent bar on the bottom part adds to the overall uniqueness on this fine product. Upon opening the box, I was always worried on the dimension of this phone, with the thickness of it being my largest concern. Sitting at 10.6mm thick, the specs itself tells how bulky this phone might be, however that's the thickest part of the phone. The thinner part of the edges really gave a feeling of slimness on the phone. Given it's size, 144g doesn't seem so heavy upon holding. It is an almost-perfect dimension for a 4.3" screen. The matte finish on the back felt smooth when touched. Forget about the aluminum finish on the ION and Xperia P; this phone actually looks and feels premium without it. The width of this phone,too, is something I am pleased about it. It really give me a sense of holding a smaller phone.
Again, my aesthetic judgement might not be similar to other people. Perhaps transitioning from HTC Inspire 4G might tilt my view, as it was heavier and slightly bigger.
Let's start with the display. Xperia S has the highest PPI on the screen of all smartphones available on the market. Everything is pin sharp and is really an eye candy to anyone looking at this device. The brightness is just as great as other handheld with 100% brightness and I am setting it at 60% all the time. Color reproduction and saturation is very natural, though at first glance, one might notice the sammy devices with amoleds would give a much colorful display. I liked the warmth of the color as it felt just right, just as one might view the real surroundings.
After playing with the device for a while, I upgraded to ICS 4.0.4 via xda-developers website. The phone felt more buttery smooth, no lags were visible, and I would say it is at least as smooth as my 4th-gen iPod touch. Web browsing gives me a much better experience. Pinch-n-zoom is fast, and everything looks sharp and nice.
All other software and apps upgrade is not gimmicky, flashy and people presume an android OS is, and Sony did a very great job at adding the intuitiveness and aesthetic elements on user experience.
The Walkman app is easier to operate in terms of creating a new playlist.
The album, or gallery app is the best picture-displaying application that ever exist to date.
The camera, well, should I even comment on that? Sony phones are one of the best product lines to have great camera that shoot quality pictures. I set my camera to 9MP instead of 12MP as I prefer having a 16:9 ratio on all the shots I took.
The battery doesn't seems to improve much on ICS, and like other smartphones, the battery gave enough power to run the device on moderate use throughout the day. By 'the day', I meant a solid 24-hours, not a morning-to-evening run. The power supplied to this device is quite satisfactory.
Also, android apps from the Play store are much more accessible and nonrestrictive, unlike the App Store. The two android-exclusive apps that I find useful is music paradise and pretty much any emulators for past games. I can literally download any songs to my phone for FREE, and I can play pokemon on Xperia S.
Overall, having owned this phone for a week, I am very satisfied with what it can deliver. Not only is android OS on Sony devices cater more on my preferences, but the design of the phone can quite be an absolute reason why I bought this phone. Aesthetic value can last longer than anything else, and I cannot see any phones topping the design of Xperia S in the nearby time.