Mobile Phones Guide

Sony Xperia Ion HSPA review

Sony Xperia Ion - The Big Xperia Brother

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Launch SRP S$798
Latest Price From S$498 (Check Latest Prices)

Overall rating 7.5/10
Design:
7
Features:
8
User-Friendliness:
7.5
Performance:
8
Value:
7
THE GOOD
Classy and sturdy chassis
Comes with Android 4.0
Overall positive camera performance
Clean UI
THE BAD
Less than stellar handling experience
Battery life can be better
A tad expensive


Performance & Conclusion

Smartphone Performance

The Sony Xperia Ion comes equipped with a snappy dual-core 1.5GHz processor alongside 1GB of RAM. These specs placed the device as a mid-tier smartphone, alongside this year's and last year's crop of dual-core devices. As usual, we subjected the review unit to the Quadrant benchmark, which can be found on Google Play. To gauge how it performed against the competition, we matched its scores against a mixture of devices using dual-core processors such as the Motorola Razr Maxx, HTC One S and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. For those who are unfamiliar with the Quadrant benchmark used below, it evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O, and 3D graphics of Android devices.
 

Test Phones Compared
Device Sony Xperia Ion Motorola Razr Maxx

HTC One S

Samsung Galaxy Nexus
CPU Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon dual-core 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4430 dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon dual-core 1.7GHz TI OMAP 4460 dual-core 1.2GHz
GPU Adreno 220 PowerVR SGX540 Adreno 225 PowerVR SGX540
RAM 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
OS Google Android 4.0 Google Android 2.3 Google Android 4.0 Google Android 4.0

 

The Sony Xperia Ion scored an acceptable 3066, overtaking both Motorola Razr Maxx's TI OMAP 4430 processor and Samsung Galaxy Nexus' TI OMAP 4460 processor. It was second in-line among the compared phones and unsurprisingly lost out to the HTC One S because of its older S3 graphics co-processor and the difference in clock speed of the main processing unit.

Raw benchmarking results aside, the Xperia Ion ran extremely smooth in actual usage and had absolutely no problems rendering pages or running graphic-intensive apps like Temple Run. The phone's lag-free performance, brisk day-to-day user experience and blazing fast web loading definitely contributed to a positive user experience.

 

Imaging Performance

The new Sony Xperia Ion comes with a relatively high 12-megapixel camera with 16x zoom. Typically, a smartphone of its caliber and above comes equipped with an 8-megapixel camera. To say that we didn't have high hopes would have been a lie especially since Xperia phones have traditionally maintained a good track record in the camera imaging quality department.


Images captured by the phone showcased warm, evenly-saturated colors with decent levels of details. The level of noise was a little too high for our liking, so much so that they were pretty visible even when we didn't zoom into the photos. This is to be expected because the sensor is small but comes with such a higher level of pixel count than most other phones. Despite this, we found the camera performance generally positive for a smartphone.





Battery Mileage

Using the same 480 x 800 pixels resolution video that we use across all our mobile device battery tests, we set the same test parameters which includes having the video looped under the following conditions:

  • Brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
     
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
     
Test Phones Compared
Specifications/Device Sony Xperia Ion Motorola Razr Maxx HTC One S Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Processor
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1.7GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
Display Size
  • 4.55-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.65-inch
Display Type
  • TFT LCD
  • Super AMOLED Advanced
  • Super AMOLED
  • Super AMOLED Plus
Display Resolution
  • 720 x 1,280 pixels
  • 540 x 960 pixels
  • 540 x 960 pixels
  • 720 x 1,280 pixels
Dimensions
  • 133 x 68 x 10.8mm
  • 130.7 x 68.9 x 8.99mm
  • 130.9 x 65 x 7.8mm
  • 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9mm
Weight
  • 144g
  • 145g
  • 119.5g
  • 135g
Battery
  • 1900mAh
  • 3300mAh
  • 1650mAh
  • 1750mAh


The Sony Xperia Ion didn't fare well in the battery department. Despite coming with a relatively high 1900mAh battery capacity, the smartphone ended up at the bottom of the barrel. We attribute this to its huge 4.55-inch TFT LCD screen and the fact that the other phones come with AMOLED screens which are more energy-saving than its standard LCD counterparts. The Motorola Razr Maxx is clearly the winner here clocking in 864 minutes of running time on a very high capacity 3300mAh battery.

These results are similarly reflected in the phones' power consumption results with the Xperia Ion emerging as the phone with the highest level of consumption for the reasons mentioned above. Likewise in the portability chart, the smartphone's relatively dismal battery life, alongside Xperia Ion's bigger build and relatively heavy frame, contributed to an overall low portability score.

Other than the above formal usage based tests, we observed that the phone could last almost a whole working day on a single charge, with emails and Twitter feeds pushed constantly to it when using the phone in a casual manner for day-to-day needs. Other activities included occasional web surfing and phone calls. So from a casual usage standpoint, the phone is able to last as long as most other devices.

 

Conclusion

Sony has mostly been a small step behind its smartphone competitors - it was one of the last manufacturers to jump on the dual-core wagon, at a time where others were clamoring to outfit their devices with quad-cores, and now, a good few months after its competitors introduced phones with big screens (4.6- to 4.8-inches), comes their very own 4.55-inch Sony Xperia Ion. These external factors most likely have eaten at a share of potential customers who are constantly looking at chasing the latest tech trends. It's a pity of course, given that Sony Mobile smartphones' performance standings are mostly above average, albeit slightly dated in hardware.

In terms of design, Sony has always made classy-looking phones. However, the Xperia Ion looks too much like the other phones under the new Sony Mobile belt. Nonetheless, the mobile device boasts good build quality, feels sturdy and well-protected. Handling-wise, we found a few quirks in its performance, but nothing that will make or break the overall experience. The Xperia Ion did relatively well in the Quadrant test, with no lags and buttery-smooth performance. The same can be said for its camera performance as it did sufficiently well in our opinion despite higher levels of noise. Its 4.55-inch Bravia-supported screen showcased crisp details, good viewing angles with adequate brightness even under sunlight.

The only dent in its overall performance is in its lackluster battery test results, in which it lasted only 240 minutes in our formal video-looping battery test. The rest of its close competitors did significantly better, with the second lowest coming in at 329 minutes. We pinpointed the battery performance discrepancy to the non-usage of an AMOLED screen, which resulted in higher battery consumption. Fortunately, its day-to-day battery performance expectations are pretty much in-line with most other comparable devices and is able to last a full day.


The Xperia Ion comes with a rather hefty price tag of S$798 - for just a tad less, you can also opt for the much longer lasting Motorola Razr Maxx ($749). Other options also include the HTC One S ($748) or the older Samsung Galaxy Nexus (from $630) or Galaxy S II (from $607).