We came by the Sony booth at CES to take the other half of the newly announced duo for a spin. The Sony Xperia S is certainly the more important device as it will be made globally available this March.
Previously known as Nozomi and arc HD, the Xperia S will become Sony's first dual-core smartphone and probably the first one to bear the Sony standalone logo. As you should be well aware Sony acquired Ericsson's share in their joint venture company, but the deal is still pending regulatory approval. As you will prbably notice some of the units are branded Sony only, while others still use the old Sony Ericsson logo.
Still, Sony is advertising the phone as just Sony Xperia, so let's stick to that for now.
The Xperia S design is completely different from the Xperia ion, but the two are essentially the same smartphone on the inside. The Xperia S utilizes a slightly smaller 4.3-inch Reality display, but it keeps the HD resolution and has a higher pixel-per-inch ratio as a result.
As we expected, the display quality is as good as on the Xperia ion's and one of the best in the non-AMOLED class. The colors are vibrant, contrast is good and images really come to life on this thing.
Due to its slightly more compact body, The Xperia S is even easier to handle than the Xperia ion. That's probably the reason why this time the Power/Lock key is at on its natural top placement rather than the right side like it's on the Xperia ion. The 3.5mm audio jack is right next to the Lock key.
The right side is pretty crowded - there are the HDMI port, the thin volume rocker and the two-step camera shutter. The microUSB port is the only occupant on the left side.
Now let's talk about the front. Above the display are the earpiece and the 1.3MP video-call camera, while below the whole HD goodness becomes quite interesting. There are 3 small white dots and just below them is a narrow transparent band with the three Android icons engraved and blue back-lighting. This transparent thing goes the whole way through the phone and you can see right through it. And it's not only a cool design element either - that's actually an antenna, so it's functional too.
At first we tried taping on those icons on the frame, but as it turned out the actual capacitive controls are those three dots above them. It's awkward and confusing at first, but you quickly get used to them.
Finally, looking at the Xperia S back, we find the 12 megapixel Exmor R camera sensor, a single LED flash, the loudspeaker grill and the secondary microphone for video recording and noise cancellation.
The battery cover is made of matte plastic and it's quite resistant to fingerprints. In fact, the whole phone (except the screen glass) is made of the same material earning the phone a few bonus points.
The Xperia S is running on Android Gingerbread and it handles is hassle-free, but we are really hoping that Sony will deliver on its promise to bring Ice Cream Sandwich soon after launch.