You see the missing ‘Ericsson’ branding in headline? Yup, this is the first Sony smartphone ever. Back at CES we had done a first impressions of the Xperia S but that was the Sony Ericsson Xperia S (a prototype perhaps). Finally, we have the device that Sony thinks could trigger a second coming for the Japanese giant’s portable devices division and fully instill Kaz Hirai’s ‘One Sony’ ethos. Also Read - Xiaomi Mi Band 4 First Impressions: Color display and more upgrades
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The Xperia S like most Sony devices is beautiful. Beauty is one area where Sony rarely fails, and with the Xperia S, Sony indeed has made a beautiful device. The fascia of the handset borrows the monolithic design language from the company’s BRAVIA line of HDTVs, but this design language has been married into a languid and understated smartphone that oozes class at first look. Also Read - Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Hands-On and First Impressions: Incremental upgrades over the iPhone 7 duo
Having said that, the design is not particularly functional. While the back has a very ergonomic curvature, on the whole comfort of use has been sacrificed for design. The sharp edges on the corners make it a tad uncomfortable to use for extended durations . I wish Sony has added some sort of contour which would have enhanced usability.
Talking of design, the main highlight of the new Xperia range is the ‘Transparent Element’ which basically is a hollow design element that sits below the Android keys. Sony says the Transparent Element also incorporates the Antenna of the device. My main problem with this design choice is that instead of the Android keys being lit up, the Transparent Element lights up and this gives the user the illusion that the Android keys are on the Transparent Element itself, while truth is that the Android keys are placed slightly above the Transparent element punctuated by three barely visible dots. So, in real world usage the user does not press the Transparent Element but presses the near invisible buttons placed above it.
Display wise the Xperia S promises to be cutting edge with its 4.3-inch display powered by a BRAVIA engine and a resolution of 1280×720 pixels giving users 343 pixels per inch. In my experience I personally found the HTC One X to have slightly deeper blacks and better viewing angles than the Xperia S. The colors tended to be a bit over saturated and in direct sunlight the One X was slightly ahead, but on the whole there is no doubt the Xperia S has a stunning panel.
Sony is still a generation behind when it comes to both software and hardware in the Xperia S, which for the moment is its flagship product, especially in the wake of the HTC One X and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S III. However, hardware specs can be deceptive and it is the end-user experience that really matters. Can Sony wow us with the Xperia S despite running on an older version of Android and last-gen hardware? Find out in my review later this week.
Photo Credits: Rohit Sharma