Sony Xperia ion for AT&T review: US Xperiance

GSMArena team, 10 July 2012.
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Gingerbread for now

The Sony Xperia ion for AT&T, like the rest of the NXT series, runs Android Gingerbread 2.3.7 with an ICS update coming up later on. We've seen the same UI combo on the Xperia S, the sola, the Xperia P, and Xperia U, so we'll cut straight to the demo video.

The Xperia ion has the usual five-pane homescreen (you can't add or delete panes), with four docked shortcuts (two on either side of the launcher shortcut). These are visible on all five homescreen panes and are user configurable: they can be either single icons or folders with multiple items in them.

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The Sony Xperia ion UI

The homescreen does a neat trick called Overview mode. Pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homescreen panes and a new screen opens up with a cool transition. All active widgets gather there for easy viewing and selection.

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The Overview mode

The Xperia ion has some custom-made Sony widgets in addition to the standard set. Those include the Timescape widget (there's a dedicated app too) and a Mediascape-like widget for photos and videos (the actual app isn't there anymore, the standard gallery is back).

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Widgets menu • Removing widget

The lockscreen shows notifications for Facebook events too. A cool new addition to the lockscreen, unseen in the old Xperia line, is the music player widget, which lets you control music playback without unlocking the phone - we'll get back to this further on.

The standard notification area and task switcher are of course present and accounted for - no custom touches to them.

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The lockscreen • Lockscreen notifications • The standard notification area and task switcher

Color themes are also part of the Sony Xperia ion's user interface. There are several of them preinstalled.

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Some of the preinstalled themes

Synthetic benchmarks

The Sony Xperia ion for AT&T is powered by a dual-core Scorpion CPU clocked at 1.5 GHz and 1GB of RAM. Back at the time of the smartphone's announcement, those were as good as it could possibly get. These days however, they are considered mid-range.

We ran our usual round of benchmarks and compared the Xperia ion to a selection of popular upper-midrange competitors.

We'll start with Benchmark Pi, which measures the CPU computing power of the Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 chipset. The Xperia ion could have done much better here.

Benchmark Pi

Lower is better

  • HTC One X (Snapdragon S4)
    279
  • HTC One S
    306
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    338
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    344
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    408
  • Samsung Galaxy S II (ICS)
    452
  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    530
  • Sony Xperia S
    536
  • Sony Xperia P
    539
  • Sony Xperia ion
    618

In Linpack the Xperia ion does slightly better than its sibling, the Sony Xperia S. It is however, far from the heavy hitters in the dual-core Android realm.

Linpack

Higher is better

  • HTC One S
    210
  • HTC One X (Snapdragon S4)
    196
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    177.1
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    126.1
  • Sony Xperia ion
    89.8
  • Sony Xperia S
    86.4
  • Samsung Galaxy S II (ICS)
    77.6
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    77.1
  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    64.74
  • Sony Xperia P
    66.9

SunSpider favors the superior JavaScript performance of Ice Cream Sandwich, so the Xperia ion is at a disadvantage here.

SunSpider

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1447
  • HTC One S
    1708
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    1757
  • HTC One X (Snapdragon S4)
    1834
  • Samsung Galaxy S II (ICS)
    1849
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    1863
  • Apple iPhone 4S (iOS 5.1)
    2217
  • Sony Xperia S
    2587
  • Sony Xperia ion
    2636
  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    2663
  • Sony Xperia P
    2784

The Xperia ion scores quite low at the BrowserMark HTML5 test. Once again the smartphone is hampered by its Android version.

BrowserMark

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    169811
  • Samsung Galaxy S II (ICS)
    111853
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    103591
  • HTC One S
    98435
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    96803
  • HTC One X (Snapdragon S4)
    92232
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    88725
  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    81557
  • Sony Xperia S
    74708
  • Sony Xperia ion
    74990
  • Sony Xperia P
    72237

NenaMark 2 is where the GPU gets to show its worth. Sony's Xperia ion scored 37.3 fps, which is right in line with the Xperia S's accomplishment, but worse than the latest crop of Android top dogs.

NenaMark 2

Higher is better

  • HTC One S
    60.5
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    58.8
  • Samsung Galaxy S II (ICS)
    51.6
  • HTC One X (Snapdragon S4)
    49.1
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    47.5
  • Sony Xperia S
    37.5
  • Sony Xperia ion
    37.3
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    24
  • Sony Xperia P
    29.9

The Xperia ion is well-equipped to tackle routine tasks. It fails to match the speed and capacity of some of the competition, but that's something for the most demanding of power users to worry about. Android Ice Cream Sandwich would have surely bumped up some of the benchmark results, so hopefully the wait for it would not be too long.

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