Review: Sony Xperia ion

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After coming out with their Xperia S, Sony has decided to up the ante in the smartphone market by releasing the larger, more expensive Xperia ion to the market. The Xperia ion is the top-of-the-line smartphone that Sony has as of the moment, and as such, it brings Sony’s best traits to the table.

Physically, the Xperia ion is an imposing device. Its black, monolithic front is completely protected by Gorilla Glass, and contains a 4.55-inch LED-backlit LCD that has a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution. Right below that lies four Android navigation keys. The more astute among you have probably guessed that the use of four navigation buttons means that the Xperia ion is powered by Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), and you’d be right. On the right side of the Xperia ion lies the power button, volume rocker and camera shortcut key. On the left side lies the USB port and a micro HDMI port.

The back of the Xperia ion is treated with a brushed aluminum finish, with rubber strips on either end of the device. There’s a 12-megapixel camera on the back, along with a small LED flash. As far as we can tell the battery is non-user replaceable, and the Xperia ion will require you to use a microSIM card.

Internally, the Xperia ion uses a dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon 1.5GHz processor, with 1GB of RAM. Yes, you read that right – in a world where its rivals have already transitioned to more powerful quad-core processors (at least for their high-end devices), Sony has decided to stick with previous generation technology. There’s 13GB of internal storage on tap, and users can expand that via the microSD card slot.

 

One of the things that really caught our eye with the Xperia ion is the screen. It’s easily one of the best we’ve seen on a smartphone before, and clearly shows how Sony’s mastery of TVs affect how it builds displays for its smartphones. Sony calls the display their HD Reality Display, which basically means that the display has an overall pixel density of 323 ppi, which makes the display really pop.

 

Unfortunately, we’ve come to the portion of the review where we talk about the OS and the overlay, and you’ve probably already guessed that the Xperia ion doesn’t do well in this particular department. Simply put, there is no excuse for a supposed hi-end device to not run the latest version of Android at launch, especially when the next version of Android has already been announced. To Sony’s credit, they have already announced their plans to upgrade the Xperia ion to the next version of Android and we’ve seen it running on a beta build of ICS during the official product unveil.

As far as benchmarks are concerned, the Xperia ion performed well enough for a device of its class. For AnTuTu, the Xperia ion scored 6505 points, which puts it on par roughly with the performance of the Samsung Galaxy Note. For Quadrant Standard, the Xperia ion managed to grab 2831 points, which isn’t bad, considering the hardware inside.

Performance-wise, the Xperia ion fared pretty well, and managed to power through most of the apps and games that we purchased without much issue. It will run into trouble when it comes to newer, more graphic intensive apps and games.

We feel the need to mention that although the Xperia ion uses a 12-megapixel camera, the image quality isn’t that great. The camera does a good enough job when there’s plenty of sunlight, unfortunately it stumbles when it comes to low-light, emitting large amounts of noise.

Battery life is pretty good – the non user serviceable 1900mAh battery gave us around a day of moderate use, which you can still stretch if you decide to be more frugal with your use with it.

It may be unfair to judge the Sony Xperia ion against other, recently launched smartphones, but that’s just the harsh reality of the mobile game at this point. That doesn’t mean that the Xperia ion doesn’t have anything going for it – far from it – it only means that you will need to thoroughly evaluate your love affair with it before dropping cash for one.

 

What’s Hot:

Solid construction

Excellent industrial design

Large, crisp and bright screen

 

What’s Not:

Still uses Android 2.3

12-megapixel camera exhibits noise with low-light

 

Bottomline:

The Sony Xperia ion might not be in the same league as some of the more recently released smarthphones by its rivals, but its still a solid Android smartphone that you might still want to take a look at, especially if you’re a Sony fan.

Buymeter: 4/5

 

Tech Specs

  • Operating System: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • CPU: Qualcomm S3 1.5GHz dual-core processor
  • LCD size: 4.55-inch 720 x 1280 pixel resolution LED-backlit LCD
  • Physical Dimensions: 133 x 68 x 10.8 mm
  • Weight: 144 g
  • Band: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
  • Internal memory : 1GB RAM, 13.2 GB storage, expandable through microSD