Top critical review
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Item NOT as Discribed. Not an LT28i. You will receive an LT28at
on February 22, 2013
The item as described, claims to be an LT28i, but none of the sellers that are using Amazon to fulfill the item are actually selling an LT28i. What is being shipped is a left over AT&T phone that is an older model and the package is being opened so that the phone can be unlocked. The phone is then being put back into the same AT&T packaging and then sent as a NEW Factory Unlocked LT28i. The box even has a sticker that is not factory but then states that the item is a new LT28i. The factory seals are broken and all of the paperwork with the phone even states that it is an LT28at and the AT&T logo is still on the phone. For those not in the know the LT28at was made specifically for AT&T for sale in the US and uses the frequency bands for their coverage. A LT28i has a different frequency that should, according to other reviewers, allow it to also work on US's T-mobile and other carriers 3G frequencies in some parts of the world. Just by unlocking it (even if it was done at the factory which I doubt) does not change the radio receivers hardware used to send and receive calls and data.
I suspected that this might be the case as some reviewers were stating that they were receiving an AT&T phone so I sent e-mails to five sellers who were offering this phone close to or just below the three hundred dollar amount, asking if this was actually an LT28i, or an LT28h or an LT28at (all have some frequency differences, and I stated that I wanted a LT28i) and most of them are also listed as using Amazon to fulfill the order. I received a reply from one of them stating that they knew the phone was an unlocked LT28at AT&T phone. I received another reply stating that they had just run out of the actual LT28i the night before but still had the LT28at (although 3days later they are still listed as sellers having phones in stock but not stating it's an LT28at). There was one seller that did take his listing off of Amazon after replying that he too didn't actually have the LT28i in stock. Another never replied but their listing was removed shortly after my e-mail to them. The last one never replied but was nice enough to leave their phone number in their sellers page and in their description they even stated that they were proud of their accurate descriptions (HA!). I called them and they said not to worry about the picture or other reviews and that the item was exactly as described, so I ordered from them. Obviously there are several sellers marketing there LT28at's and marking them off to a reasonable price but knowingly listing them with the wrong description. If you look at some of the other sellers under this listing there are some who do state that their item is the AT&T phone and others state that the phone is the LT28i and is shipped from Japan but those are at a much higher price tag (guess you get what you pay for, see my pics).
If you are planning on using the phone on AT&T then none of this would matter to you but if you are specifically looking for a phone with that 1700 frequency then you need to expect to pay more. I'm glad it was fulfilled by Amazon as it's not what I was wanting and expect to have no problems with the return.
Update 25February2013: As expected I had no problems with the return as it was shipped by Amazon. I was still trying to get an Actual LT28i at this price and used my significant others Amazon account to again e-mail the sellers and all but one of the sellers at the $300ish price point admitted that they indeed only had the LT28at. The last one who apparently specializes in tablets but not returning e-mails is the one I bought from last time and I already knew what I got last time and it was not the LT28i, just an LT28at that was unlocked (see Pics). Like I said once before, if you are going to use AT&T or don't mind not having the 1700hsdpa band then this listing will work for you and it may have worked in the past for a true LT28i but without going over the $450 mark I don't think you will get a true LT28i anymore. By the way there is another listing on Amazon for about $350 for a LT28h which does have the 1700hsdpa band but not the LTE bands. The other listing for a LT28i that is around $350 is also from one of the sellers who e-mailed me back and stated that that one too is really an LT28at.
Update 3March2013: Sorry to give a bad recommendation. The LT28h I recommended in my last update that was listed for #350, came as an LT28at also, but get this, the box claimed it was an LT28i. I am either thinking that many of the sellers either don't know the diference between the Xperia Ion versions or they assume that the Buyers won't know the difference. See the running comments to this review.
Update 17March2013: Finally success (thanks New Generation Products (CellGSM)). After at least 30 emails to various sellers I was able to find the right phone I was after. If you notice when you look at the different sellers under this listing in the buying options you will see that there are a bunch selling for around $300 and then a bunch selling for closer to $500. I emailed all of them and found that all of the cheaper ones are selling the AT&T branded phone that is usually unlocked. The higher priced ones do usually seem to be the right one however. As I have been fairly involved with this listing and review (see comments button below), I have noticed that the prices from the different sellers fluctuate on an almost daily basis and was able to get one for $400 but as it was their next to last one they raised their price the same afternoon. After waiting for a week for it to be delivered, I was elated to finally see a Sony box, with a factory seal, an UnBranded LT28i phone inside, with a Sony Experia charger (had U.S. plug by the way which I didn't expect), and had the Sony brand ear bud headphones with microphone in the cord. It did come with all of the bands that I have previously written about including the 1700 hsdpa band and I do get T-mobiles 3G network and should be able to get AT&T's and T-mobiles LTE networks once they are available in my area. I am still disapointed that I couldn't get this phone for the $300 I was hoping for but I do finally have the phone I wanted.
I'm not going to do an extensive review of the phone itself but will say that the reviewers saying the battery is a disappointment are correct. Of course I have been playing with and setting up my phone for the last few days but have had to recharge overnight and mid day to make it last. It should be enough once I am over this initial setup period but I'm sure a bigger battery would have also added more weight to I guess it was a trade off. The camera is awesome for a phone and I am comparing to a Nokia Lumia 900 that my spouse has and my older phones. I know the resolution is better on this phone but the focusing and brightness of the pictures is what I was comparing. This is my first Android phone and it is I giant step up from what I had. It started updating from Gingerbread to ICS within seconds of giving it a password to my Wifi. No Jellybean yet but I don't know much about that upgrade to know what the difference will be (I do prefer the Windowsphone OS on the Lumia better, but the apps are still better here). Hope all this helps someone and as said before if you want to use this phone only on AT&T's networks then this review hardly applies to you but, the listing is for an LT28i International version and not an LT28at unlocked for international use so I thought everyone should know the issue and I am still leaving this review rating for the listing a 1 star because of those issues although the phone itself that I now have is more of a 4 or 5 star phone.
Last Update 30May2013, Battery life is not bad now that I am not constantly playing on it. It can now show 80% or more at the end of the day if I only use if sparingly (remember it has a huge screen but I also don't have a fakebook account so I don't have to be constantly on it and I can walk and look where I'm going). I have gotten several compliments on the resolution of the screen and the quality of the video and the pictures. The USB/HDMI cover that does look like it should break off, I am happy to report is alot stronger than I thought it would be and currently doesn't show any sign of wear. I love this phone. I also see that there are still people buying this phone from the cheap sellers and are still getting the LT28at instead of the LT28i, and yes my true LT28i does work great on T-mo's 3g and 4g networks.