Sony Xperia S pictures and hands-on

Sony, previously Sony Ericsson, has launched the Sony Xperia S, a new Android smartphone at CES in Las Vegas on Monday and we were at the launch of the new phone to get a quick hands-on preview.

The very square looking Xperia S is the company's new flagship handset and replaces the Arc, we suppose, in its offering.

It comes with a 4.3-inch "Reality Display" with a HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. Like the Arc, and recent Sony Ericsson smartphones, the screen that leverages Sony's Bravia technology, is very crisp and clean. Watching a trailer of Smurfs (oh the shame) we found the viewing angle to be very good indeed - so much so you can expect the person sitting next to you on the train to share your viewing.

Beneath the screen are three touch sensitive buttons concealed under the same glass and then beneath that a see-through bar that reminds us a previous LG phone launched in 2009, the LG Crystal.

As with the Crystal, the see-through band features etched icons, in this case the back, home, and menu icons.

There appears to be little point to the see-through bar other than it looks interesting - maybe it is the antenna, but what is apparent from our quick play and watching other journalists is that the actual buttons, that sit above the see-through bar, are missed time and time again. We, and others, instantly pressed the see-through bar instead. That could be something that you quickly remember, but it certainly is annoying to start with.

Around the back you get a convex design that houses all the tech gubbins the phone delivers. That means it won't sit flush on the desk, but also means that it is easier to pick up as you'll have an edge to grab.

On the camera front you get two with the Xperia S: a 1.3 megapixel unit on the front and a 12 megapixel camera on the rear. Both record HD video with the rear camera capable of 1080p footage if that's what you are after.

Sony brag that the Xperia S rear camera will be able to take shots in just 1.5 seconds from standby and they are right to do so. We didn't have a stopwatch, but from waking the phone to taking a picture was very quick.

It is hard to judge the quality of the shots we took as we weren't able to export them, however on screen the playback looked great, fantastic even. The Xperia S screen, combined with the camera, makes a great combination.

Delving inside Sony has made sure the phone delivers on speed. You'll get a 1.5GHz dual core processor from Qualcomm and 1GB of RAM to ensure it doesn't get laggy. Our quick hands-on play showed the Xperia S to be nippy loading apps and playing video with no issue.

Elsewhere you'll get NFC, DLNA, HMDI, and Bravia Sync. The Xperia S is also PlayStation Certified as you might expect.

Sounds great doesn't it, so what's the catch?

Well it strangely still only runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread rather than Android's latest Ice Cream Sandwich build. Sony has promised ICS for the second quarter 2012, but that seems like a long time to wait, especially as the phone is out in March and there are a number of ICS smartphones starting to appear. 

In theory it shouldn't stop you wanting to get this handset, but we bet for those keen to get the latest perks of Android 4.0 it will be something to that might deter them from the Xperia S.

Sony Ericsson has a fairly good record of updating its Android phones so let us hope it doesn't become an issue later in the year, disappointing those that have taken a leap of faith. 

The Sony Xperia S will be available in black or white in the UK in March, 3 and O2 have both confirmed they'll be offering it.



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