The Sony Xperia S is the first product to emerge from the newly consolidated Sony Mobile group. Although it'll inevitably be treated as the bellwether for Sony's attempt at going it alone on the mobile front, this phone's design and development can rightfully be attributed to the former Sony Ericsson partnership. Whatever the logo at the top, the Xperia S comes with a clear mission to woo users with its dashing good looks and to keep them interested with a highly competitive spec sheet. Its 4.3-inch display has a 1280 x 720 resolution, the camera features a 12-megapixel Exmor R sensor, and beating inside is a dual-core Snapdragon heart clocked at 1.5GHz.

The one disappointment spoiling matters is that Sony is shipping the Xperia S out with the year-old Android 2.3 as the preloaded OS. An upgrade to the latest Android 4.0 software is in the works and promised for the second quarter of 2012, but your first few weeks with the new handset will be spent savoring the all too familiar taste of Gingerbread. Sony has clearly been keen to shorten the time between announcement and release, but being quick to transition from a CES headline to store shelves only matters if the Xperia S is actually worth your time and money. Read on to find out.