Sony Xperia S review

Sony’s first smartphone since its split with Ericsson has an impressive screen and makes clever use of NFC technology, but are these features enough to make up for its year-old version of Android and a few other shortcomings? Julian Prokaza goes hands on with the Xperia S to find out.

Sony packs in a 12-megapixel snapper

The Japanese manufacturer hasn't skimped on the camera either. The Xperia S has a backlit 12-megapixel sensor that uses the same Exmor R technology as some of its compact digital cameras. Photos aren't quite as detailed and balanced as those snapped with the 8-megapixel iPhone 4S, at least to our eyes, but they are still very good indeed when taken in good light.

Sony Xperia S test photo

Low-light performance is less impressive, but the very high resolution means visible noise is seldom an issue when photos are viewed or printed at reasonable sizes, and the LED flash can at least be used without swamping the subject.

Apps ahoy

This being Sony, the Xperia S comes bundled with a handful of media-related apps that are handy, but hardly must-haves (though sound quality is excellent with music, as is call quality), but the Power Saver app is rather more useful.

This allows various phone features to be disabled to conserve battery life at three different times whenever the Power Saver option is enabled manually (perhaps as an emergency measure to preserve power for calls); automatically when the battery life drops below 25 per cent; and at selected time, which is handy for reducing power consumption overnight when recharging isn't option.

Sony Xperia S power saver

Unfortunately, this app is really more a prerequisite, since in our video playback test with flight mode enabled and the screen set to 50 per cent brightness, the Xperia S lasted for a mere 6 hours 15 minutes.

The high-resolution display no doubt is partly responsible for this disappointing result, as is the dual-core 1.5GHz processor, but the latter at least makes the Xperia S a very speedy performer.