Sony Xperia S hands on review

The Xperia S marks the dawn of a new generation of Sony smartphones – and boy, does it look good

The Xperia S is the first smartphone to scrap the Sony Ericsson branding, paving the way for the Sony name to go it alone under the officially rebranded Sony Mobile Communications moniker.

And with "Sony" sitting proud at the top of the phone in big block letters, we can't say we'll miss seeing "Ericsson" crammed into the next generation of Sony smarties.

The Xperia S is gorgeous slab of matt black tech, complemented rather nicely by a mahoosive 4.3in 1280 x 720 BRAVIA Reality Display. The screen monopolises the majority of the handset, alongside the transparent button bar at the bottom – home to those familiar home, menu and back Android keys.

Speaking of Android, the Xperia S packs Gingerbread 2.3 – but will get the Ice Cream Sandwich update during Q2 of 2012, alongside a slew of Xperia extras like the optional Timescape widget we're used to seeing on smartphones like the Xperia Arc S and Xperia Play.

The Xperia S also marks Sony's first steps into NFC. Using what it calls Xperia Smart Tags, which work with dedicated NFC accessory tags, you can customise tags to pull up different features like the alarm clock, your work calendar or turning the Wi-Fi on.

Sony really wants you to scrap your compact cam in favour of its 12MP snapper – with 1080p video recording. There's also a 720p shooting front-facing camera. And as far as we could tell during our time with it, picture quality seemed decent enough.

A feature Sony were super keen to show off on the Xperia S is its ability to takes pictures in just 1.5 seconds from standby, otherwise known as Fast Capture. We can confirm this feature is whippet quick – and could prove mighty handy. Talking of handy, the Xperia's Play On feature allows you to easily share images wirelessly to connected devices.

It's game on with PlayStation certification, adding the Xperia S to Sony's collection of devices with fully supported gaming capabilities – which currently includes the original PS phone, the Xperia Play and the Tablet S and Tablet P.

A 1.5GHz processor and 1GB of RAM allows you to zip back and forth between features and the micro HDMI port means you can hook the Xperia S up to the big screen viewing for playing games, sharing photos and videos.

You'll also notice it's not as skinny by today's Android standards, but we guess not everyone is vying for the "world's slimmest" title.

The handset itself feels good and rock solid in the hand thanks to its matt black overcoat and concave back and we must say, the delectable Xperia S looks right at home alongside Sony's deluge of high-end tech.

If the Xperia S points to where Sony intends to go with its mobile phone range, we can't wait to see more next-gen Sony handsets.

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