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 newsletter!
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Apple iMac Pro
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Ballistix Sport AT
Toys for Boys
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Smart Security Premium
ESET Internet Security
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Tivoli PAL BT
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Technology is revolutionising the way we do things and that includes in the kitchen where a wealth of must-have gadgets and appliances are the making life easier for home cooks.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R17 Pro review: Oppo's thriftiest flagship yet drives a hard bargain
- 2 Google Home Hub review: A different kind of smart TV
- 3 Nokia 7.1 review: A modest and modern mid-tier option
- 4 Tenda Nova MW6 review: A gateway drug for mesh Wi-Fi
- 5 Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Expensive, but probably the best phone you can buy right now
Latest News Articles
- Dell launches its Rugged range
- Sony launches three new 4K HDR Home Cinema Projectors
- HP launches Omen by HP Challenger Series Tournament
- Samsung Australia announces breakthrough demand for Galaxy Note9 pre-sales
- HP Omen laptops include a first: Nvidia Max-Q graphics technology
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- PC World 2018 Editor's Choice Awards
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?