Home / Mobile / Mobile Phone / Sony Xperia S / Apps, Camera and Verdict

Sony Xperia S - Apps, Camera and Verdict

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Start using the Sony Xperia S for everyday phone duties and it copes admirably, providing clear audio on all fronts when making a call. Messaging is also a cinch thanks to Android's great messaging app, the phone's large responsive touchscreen and Sony's slightly customised keyboard.

Email, similarly is as good as we've come to expect from Android. It's quick and easy to navigate your emails and graphically rich HTML emails look great on the large high-res screen.

Sony Xperia S Screenshot 6 Sony Xperia S Email

When it comes to contacts management, Sony has added Facebook but not Twitter, which is a strange omission. You don't even get the Twitter apps preinstalled, with a quick trip to the app store required. The integration lets you browse a contact's interests, photos and updates from within their contacts page. It's somewhat useful though nothing revolutionary.

Sony Xperia S Screenshot 7 Sony Xperia S Screenshot

Move onto web browsing and things only get better. We already mentioned how the superb screen makes viewing the world wide web a wonderous experience but there's also the easy interface and of course support for flash video, for a truly full web experience.

Sony Xperia S Screenshot 5

Multimedia is well catered for with easy to use apps for music, FM radio and photo viewing, while a quick download of a third party video player will have the phone playing back just about any video you care to try – and they'll both look and sound great. We found 720p mkvs would play back with no bother.

Sony Xperia S 2

Sadly that most crucial of multimedia features, the camera, isn't as good as we'd expected. In good lighting you can just about notice extra detail over an 8MP model but pictures are incredibly grainy with loads of compression noise when blown up. We also found low light performance particularly poor with the phone both struggling to judge the correct exposure and having a weaker-than-usual flash.

Sony Xperia S Camera App

On the flipside, speed is excellent. The Sony Xperia S is able to rattle off six shots in ten seconds. You also have the advantage of a proper camera button for getting to the camera app quickly (you can jump straight to the camera from standby and even have it take a photo straight away) and making it easy for self portraits or any other shots where it's difficult to see the screen to press the capture button.

You also get the nifty panorama mode and 3D panorama mode (not that you can watch the latter on the phone) and a decent selection of scenes and modes. Nonetheless, we can't help but feel disappointed.

Sony Xperia S Sample Photo OutdoorsOverall detail is good in the grand scheme of things, but disappointing for a 12MP camera. Compare it to the iPhone 4S below.

Apple iPhone 4S Camera Sample Outdoor

Sony Xperia SThe panorama mode is useful though.

Sony Xperia S Camera Indoor with FlashLow light performance is very poor.

Thankfully battery life isn't something to be too concerned about. While the Sony Xperia S doesn't set new records, it passes the basic test of being able to go for a day and a half or so. Our only wish is that this apparently acceptable average were raised a little – even if it meant thicker handsets.


With an HD screen, 12MP camera and a few quirky extras, the Sony Xperia S should be right up there with the best of the rest, but it doesn't quite come together. The screen isn't quite as good as we'd hope and the camera is well below expectations. Meanwhile the design, although quite nice, doesn't really wow us. It is still an decent high-end phone, just not the barnstormer it could've been.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Camera 7
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Screen Quality 7
  • Usability 8
  • Value 8
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


January 12, 2012, 1:56 am

Are you trying to make me feel ancient? "The first phone in the UK to bear the Sony brand"
I don't think so, not unless alzheimer's is kicking in.


January 12, 2012, 4:05 am

True, I remember Sony handsets being sold in the UK over a decade ago. The J5 with its natty jog-wheel interface was a highlight.

"The first SMARTphone in the UK to bear the Sony brand", perhaps?


March 16, 2012, 10:07 pm

" (instant TV playback is go.. once you buy a microHDMI cable)"
Mine came with one in the box (& a screen protector).

Luan Bach

March 17, 2012, 2:45 pm

Drop in price already ? Wasn't it £450 on release ?


March 17, 2012, 6:46 pm

I have to echo some the conclusions of the review with regards to the screen - The viewing angles are very poor. Colour and contrast shift dramatically if viewed even slightly off centre.

However, I believe that it actually has a sharper screen than the 4S in terms of DPI (342 vs 326 of the IPhone)

Mark Etheridge

April 20, 2012, 5:24 pm

Don't really understand why not having expandable storage is such an issue? This seems to be a recurring theme with TR's smartphone reviews.

This phone has 32Gb RAM internally, connectivity and syncing to Googles cloud services + third party cloud sources. Would someone with a phone as advanced as this one, really miss the use use memory cards or am I missing something?

Jonathon Trot

May 20, 2012, 2:39 am

Sony Xperia S seems nice to me overall.Except some silly problems.its light and handy but now its time to watch out samsung galaxy s3 nothing is gonna compare with this.You should check out all updates about this.Thank you.


May 24, 2012, 10:14 pm

hiya, i just got my Sony Xperia S as an upgrade on Tmobile. have been using the phone the last couple of days. i know it was mentioned in the review about the fit and finish of the phone and there were slight panel gaps. to be honest they arent that bad and it doesnt detract from the quality feel of the handset. the screen is outstanding and even though the review claims the Xperia is slightly on the heavy side i actually feel it has a nice weight to it and sits comfortably in the hand. mine also came with a bundled HDMI cable and a screen protector. so far the phone is very responsive and doesnt lag running multiple apps or playing HD content. 32GB is plenty of space and i am not missing the micro SDHC slot at all. the touch screen responsiveness is very good and the colour reproduction of the screen is lovely. photos and videos really pop on this screen. ill need to use it for more time to find out if it has any quirks but so far its a solid 9/10 from me. a great handset and you wont regret getting it. :)


September 4, 2013, 10:34 pm

At first you will be impressed by this phone, however after
having it just a short while I started to find problems arising everywhere. Let
me categorise -

- The Camera, although being 12MP is awful at taking a
picture with a lot of depth/distance. The detail quality lacks significantly.
It is brilliant however for close-up shots. They advertise a quick start up for
the camera, though I never experienced such a luxury, it takes more around a
minute. Focussing this camera is a huge pain.

- The battery, due to the immense power all the buggy
features consume, this phone will not even last a day. Even if left in standby
in your pocket, the battery will drain far too quickly. Another HUGE drawback
is that the battery is not replaceable… At least not without removing half the
phone and exposing all its inner workings.

- The design is uncomfortably big. Texting is awkward and although
the corners are rounded they still poke into your hands and eventually that can
start to hurt. There are very VERY few cases available for this phone so in
terms of extra protection to save one breaking the massive screen, it’s quite
difficult. Plus the addition of a case makes the phone even bigger than it
needs to be.

- The touch screen sensitivity is poorly calibrated. Before
you think it, it’s not because I’m trying to use it wrong, it’s just very
uneven and doesn’t respond well, especially at certain angles I’ve found with

- Phone often cuts of mid-call. Sometimes refuses to let me
call someone.

- The gallery and the text messages often open saying there
is nothing in them, and take around a minute (depending on how much is in
there) to actually make your pictures or messages appear.

- A REALLY ANNOYING ISSUE is the back of the phone
CONSTANTLY falls off. Considering there is nothing you can do under that cover
except put your sim card in, it comes of stupidly easily. I can simply pick the
phone up off the table and the back will fall off etc.

- Certain apps and a lot of games overload this phone. The
Dual-Core is nothing special at all and almost everything that requires any
type of decent graphical processing crashes or lags badly. Often the simplest
programs crash such as internet, Instagram. IT WILL OFTEN CLOSE SOMETHING MID

- With headphones, the phone sometimes decides to play music
from the speaker instead which is awkward if you are in a public place. And
then you’ll rush to silence it and it’ll freeze up so you’ll end up sitting on
it or snapping it in half with rage.

OVERALL I would highly recommend you look elsewhere for a
phone regardless of what you may think, this phone will cause more problems for
you than you could imagine. There are more problems I could name right now but
I think I’ve said enough for you to realise the truth about the performance of
this phone.

comments powered by Disqus