With Sony purchasing all of the Ericsson shares of the joint company, it’s interesting to see what direction the mobile phones and tablets will take from now on. While the previous designs were clearly Sony-inspired, we can say for sure that the new designs will be all-Sony for sure, and there could be a few surprises along the way, as well.
The new company already had something in store for us – we’ve already seen the leaked screenshots of an unnamed Sony-branded smartphone, codenamed Nozomi, but it turned out that they had several phones to demonstrate, and the most interesting one is the Sony Xperia ion – the first 4G LTE device from the company, which also comes with a lot of great hardware features, as well as a new design.
The design of the new Xperia ion is decidedly different than the previous Xperia smartphones – instead of the usual of Sony Ericsson curves and thinness, we get a more rectangular body, with a scratch resistant sheet of glass on the front and a unibody metal housing, which makes the phone feel very solid and sturdy.
The display that’s hidden under the blackened glass is a big 4.6 inch unit with a 1280×720 HD resolution (Sony calls it a HD Reality Display), with Sony’s own Mobile Bravia Engine, which basically makes the colors more vivid and the contrast and brightness better using some clever software tricks. It’s undoubtedly a very beautiful display, and it can easily hold its own against Samsung’s Super AMOLED, not to mention all the other LCD displays with HD resolution.
The performance is also at a respectable level – it’s not a quad core running inside, but the Qualcomm MSM8660, clocked at 1.5 GHz per core and using the Adreno 220 graphics adapter, does a great job at powering through any and all apps, games, HH videos and whatever else you manage to throw at the device. The 1 GB of RAM helps keep everything running smooth even when you’ve got a dozen of apps in the background and ten tabs open in the browser.
The phone comes equipped with all the hardware features you can think of – it truly is a high end device: you’ve got the usual Wifi N, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, various sensors, as well as an NFC radio, HDMI out port and of course, a 4G LTE radio for high speed data connections. The only possible drawback is the amount of storage space, which is limited to 16 GB of onboard Flash memory – there is no micro SD card slot to be found anywhere.
There are two cameras on the handset, and both of them are great: the front facing 1.3 megapixels unit supports 720p video recording, which lets you conduct video chats in High Definition (Skype HD may be a possibility in the near future on Android), while the 12 megapixels unit on the back is one of the best on the market judging by the specs and its 8 megapixels predecessor – the Exmor R sensor is great for any kinds of photos, and the support for 1080p video recording makes it even better.
The Sony Xperia ion will ship with Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread pre-installed, which is a bit surprising, but Sony promises that they’ll have an Ice Cream Sandwich update ready by summer, so it should be fine. Obviously, the company uses their own custom interface, so you won’t get to experience the new Ice Cream Sandwich UI – not all of it, at least.
There’s no word on pricing, but it should be high, seeing as it’s a flagship phone. For the first phone under the new brand, the Xperia Ion certainly manages to impress – this is a phone I’d buy right away.