2012 may only be a few days old but that hasn't stopped smartphone manufacturers from continuing to churn out new product. Sony's Xperia S Android phone is one of the first phones to be unveiled this year. It's also the first smartphone in Sony's "NXT" series, short for next generation.
If you're wondering where the Ericsson name has gone, Sony Ericsson is no longer. In October last year Sony paid Ericsson US$1.45 billion to buy out its share of the Sony Ericsson joint venture. Sony therefore took sole control of the Sony Ericsson brand and the Xperia S is the first phone to feature this new branding.
According to Sony the Xperia S is the start of a new line of phones called Xperia NXT. The company is aiming to keep consistency in future releases so any new devices in this NXT line will have a similar look and feel to the Xperia S. At just 10.6mm thick and with a transparent band below the screen that hides notification lights, the end result is quite attractive.
The Sony Xperia S has a 4.3in screen with what Sony calls its Mobile Bravia engine. 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've reviewed so we can only hope its performance on the Sony Xperia S is no different.
The Sony Xperia S display 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 ppi of 326, while the Galaxy Nexus has a ppi of 316.
Perhaps the best feature of the Sony Xperia S — at least on paper — is its 12-megapixel camera. Sony says it will takes photos in just 1.5 seconds from standby and it doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder. The camera uses Sony's Exmor R image sensor which claims to offer higher sensitivity and less image noise in low light areas than traditional mobile phone cameras. The Xperia S also has a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera for video calling that records 720p HD video.
The Sony Xperia S is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a choice of 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. There's also NFC (Near Field Communication) built-in and the Xperia S is a quad-band HSDPA device, so it will work on all three major Australian networks — Telstra (850MHz) and Optus/Vodafone (900MHz/2100MHz).
Disappointingly, the Xperia S lacks a memory card slot so you'll have to make to with the internal memory. Even more disappointing is the fact that the Xperia S will originally ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Sony says the phone will be upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the second quarter of 2012. The software delay is likely a result of Sony's exclusive entertainment services (Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited and PlayStation Store) being optimised to work on the Xperia S.
The Sony Xperia S is expected to launch in Australia in the first quarter of 2012, though no pricing or concrete local availability has been announced.