Reviewed by mcridley (Currently owns)
I have just spent this weekend with the ICS update to the Xperia S and wish to share my thoughts.
Before I start I would like to say that there are some elements of Vlad’s view of the hardware that I disagree with. I believe that this is as well built and fairly premium feeling phone. I agree it is not to the same extreme high level of quality as the iPhone 4/4S but I believe that it is one of the better feeling android devices on the market (bar the One X which is one of the best designed phones ever realesed). Also whilst it may have been released with an older generation processor than may have been expected for a flagship phone I can’t say I have ever really found wanting.
Anyway so onto the software: Timescape w/ ICS. First and foremost it does not feel like a vastly different OS on the surface. After the update the only visible change on the lock screen is the Sound On/Off toggle having been replaced with a quick launch camera action. Also the newly styled ICS status bar is present – but looks wise not much has changed.
Sony had one of the least irritating Android 2.3 skins I had come across (having waged war with pervious devices using Sense 3 and TouchWiz). Sony place a little bit of their style identity on top of a fairly stock Android experience. This is continued with their ICS release. The skin just gets out of the way and doesn’t try too hard to get your attention.
There has been a noticeable increase in performance with the update. I never fund the phone to be overly laggy before however with ICS the phone flies. I haven’t yet found anything it really struggles to deliver. The ICS multitasking menu is summoned by a long press on the home button – whilst this is a fairly common solution across three-buttoned devices I do feel that most users will never come across this functionality.
The update brings the ability to run Android 4.0 only apps on the device. The biggest bonus of this is Chrome, which has instantly replaced the stock browser as my weapon of choice for browsing the web. The device handles it well producing a very smooth web experience. The 720 screen allows a lot of the web to be viewed clearly on the screen at all time.
Overall it definitely feels like Sony have taken their time to produce a solid and pleasurable update to this phone. I believe this is still one of the best looking Android devices currently on the market with a good screen and camera. The addition of ICS simply brings to life the previously dormant hardware and creates a fast, slick and most of all easy to live with device. Now I just have the long wait for Android 4.1!
- Design 8
- Display 8
- Camera(s) 8
- Reception / call quality 8
- Performance 9
- Software 9
- Battery life 7
- Ecosystem 9