Review: Sony Xperia Ion

With all of the noise about the iPhone 5, the question has to be asked. Why am I reviewing the Sony Xperia Ion? It’s simple. There are many other smart phones out there and they all have their advantages. The Xperia Ion is such a phone and let me tell you right up front, I’m very impressed by it.

For starters, it’s a large phone, but not too large. I was able to put it comfortably in my pants pocket and not really feel it. Not that I would recommend doing that on a regular basis as that’s a great way to crack a screen. But it’s nice to know that you can if required. It feels and looks nice. It feels like a well put together device. But the phone seems to be a magnet for dirt and fingerprints. You might want to keep a microfiber cloth handy. The phone has a normal MicroUSB port as well as HDMI port so that you can hook it up to your TV. There’s a 4.6-inch 1280-by-720-resolution display capable of 720p which Sony has dubbed the HD Reality Display. I personally don’t care what it’s called, all I know that it’s bright and vibrant. It’s easily one of the better smart phone screens I’ve seen lately.

Inside there’s a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 CPU. Not exactly new when compared to the A6 in the iPhone 5. But it does seem to work well while running Android 4.0.4 which is heavily customized by Sony. I’ve always been a fan of the way Sony customizes their phones as it sets them apart from pretty much every other Android phone out there. One thing I should mention is that I usually hate typing on touch screen phones. But I found it really easy to type on this one. I really liked that!

Using the smart phone was kind of interesting. Its voice quality was pretty good, but the real story was the fact that this phone is LTE enabled (in this case, on the Rogers network). If you have a need to consume data at a rapid pace (and you can afford to do so) this phone will support your need for speed. YouTube and anything else is no problem for this phone. At this point, I should also mention the battery life. It lasted the day for the most part but heavy LTE usage will absolutely cut into that.

The next thing is the camera. Rather than do my usual camera tests, I decided to take it to Toronto’s Nuit Blanche festival this past weekend to see how it performed. Since it was at night, I figured it would ether show how capable the camera was, or really show it’s shortcomings. First the still pictures:

The above photo was taken outside Toronto’s Trump Tower. Click to enlarge to see the quality. It’s pretty good. But there was a lot of light. That takes me to the next picture:

I came across the quasi-famous Toronto Batman and snapped a pic in lower light. Not bad. Here’s one more in even lower light.

So for still pictures, you can see this camera is pretty good. One thing I should note, the auto focus function was kind of weird. I didn’t get how it worked and sometimes it would contribute to fuzzy pictures which required me to do a reshoot. But when it did work, it worked well.

How about video? I’ve taken three videos for your viewing pleasure:

The video quality is pretty impressive given the lighting conditions and the audio seems pretty clear in the first and third videos. I honestly don’t know what happened with the sound in the second video. My wife shot the same scene on her iPhone 5 and got clear audio. Perhaps I accidentally covered up a microphone? But in any case, Sony has worked hard on the camera and it really shows.

So what’s my verdict? If you want a phone that’s got a great camera and is quick when it comes to LTE, this is the phone for you. It has a nice screen and feels great in your hand. It’s not too big and it’s battery life is decent. If you want something other than the iPhone 5, take a look at the Xperia Ion and you might find a phone you want to take home.

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