Sony & Ericsson have become so synonymous in the phone world that they did away with the ampersand and just went plain Sony Ericsson. They stopped short of choosing to be known as some sort of hybrid entity like a Brangelina or a Beniffer, but you could be forgiven for thinking that the companies were as good as married in their mobile endeavours.
Not any more though, unless you think that one spouse engulfing the other like a creature from The Thing is what marriage is all about. Sony have swallowed Ericsson’s share of the partnership and struck out into the smartphone market with their very own handset, the Xperia S, which is the first offering from the newly branded Sony Mobile Communications. Carried by all major European networks except Vodafone, with Phones 4U offering an exclusive white version, Sony are attempting to claw back some of their huge market share from around five years ago. Is the Xperia S capable? It certainly looks promising.
The proposed starting price is pretty reasonable for an attractive mid-sized smartphone with competitive specifications. At 10.6mm thick, it loses out to Motorola’s RAZR and the iPhone 4S in the slimline stakes, though measuring 128mm x 64mm, it’s smaller than Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus.
The 4.3 inch screen is as big as the RAZR, and features scratch-resistant glass and an LED-backlit LCD display, with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels to match most of its contemporaries. Performance in light conditions remains to be tested, but rival higher-tech displays are expected to outperform it.
The Xperia S will run on Android’s older 2.3 Gingerbread OS, however it is slated for an upgrade to the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the months following release. With 16 GB internal memory, it promises to hold a decent amount of content, and that bigger screen will be good for watching movies or browsing online. 1GB RAM together with a 1.5GHz dual core processor provide a handset that should operate quickly and smoothly. Of course, quad core processors are just around the corner, but with the iPhone 4S still offering a single core as standard, the Xperia S is on a par with its rivals. It also features a microUSB and 3.5mm jack for hardware connections.
Where the Xperia S really pushes the boundaries of is with its camera, which comes in at a whopping 12 megapixels, and also features 720p video recording. The front-facing camera provides an impressive 1.3 MP for video calls. Given the typical quality of Sony cameras, we can expect some top-quality performance from these snappers.
Shipping on January 30th 2012, this stylish handset is anticipated to be a big one for Sony. Time will tell whether it lives up to its simple and elegant promise, or if it has arrived too late after the starter gun has sounded. Arriving after the Christmas 2011 boom, but before the iPhone 5 and the quad-cores arrive later in 2012, it may have turned up between races for too many consumers. Time will tell if its relatively low starting price will save the day.