Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Sony’s Xperia Ion delivers on the promise of a 4G-LTE (Long Term Evolution) flagship Android smartphone. With a bright 4.55-inch touchscreen, an older 1.5 GHz dual core processor and an industry leading 12.1 megapixel camera, this NXT device is out to impress.
Now available on Rogers for $50.00 on a three-year plan or $500 for month-to-month plans, customers who buy one now will get a free Bluetooth headset.
The Xperia Ion was previewed way back in January during the Consumer Electronics Show. So, while it took a while to get it launched, Sony has made an extravaganza of the device’s debut by bundling in a number of optional accessories including the SmartWatch, the SmartTag NFC chips and an innovative Bluetooth headset.
The Xperia Ion itself, exemplifies the aesthetic and function that Sony has been striving for in its smartphones since the first Xperia devices shipped last year.
Trading the rubber and plastic of previous models for a more robust, stylish black brushed aluminum rear case gives the device a stealthy, premium feel.
Running on Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread, effectively last-year’s Android OS, may be a deal killer for users seeking out the newer Ice Cream Sandwich or even Jelly Bean versions of Android.
Despite all the great features and benefits the Xperia Ion provides, I personally wouldn’t buy it simply because the included OS is suboptimal and is really starting to feel old.
Add the fact that Sony has recently reneged on Ice Cream Sandwich updates for last year’s Xperia Arc and Xperia mini pro, casts a shadow of doubt that current Xperia models will get very far in terms of Android OS updates.
If you can look beyond this sad, fragmented reality, then the Xperia Ion is a pretty solid multimedia smartphone.
Sony has really focused on delivering a strong multimedia ecosystem with its various unlimited media services. The Xperia Ion is a great device to deliver these subscription-based services.
The 4.6” HD Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine is simply stunning. Blacks are dark, colors are well saturated and clear. One expects nothing less from Sony and they certainly delivered on this front. During the launch event, Sony’s representatives also showed who the Xperia Ion can dock and quickly connect to their HDTV’s, making it an exceptional portable HD video player.
When paired with any HDMI-CEC HDTV, the Xperia Ion can be controlled by a remote control that can access various apps and features, connectivity was demonstrated to be seamless. This makes any HDTV a monitor for your smartphone. While an odd concept, it works with the Xperia Ion because the device is designed to render all video in high definition. So graphics don't look blown up and jaggy, they just look like you're using a giant smartphone.
Using the HDMI dock accessory, the Xperia Ion can easily take over any HDTV screen and run movies and videos in 1080p HD. This experience was better than we've had on any other smartphone and should be Sony's key differentiator.
The built-in 12 megapixel HD camera is simply stunning and probably one of the best you can get in a mobile device today. Sony’s own expertise in digital cameras plays a big part here. The built-in 16GB memory can be upgraded to 32GB with an external microSD card.
The inclusion of LTE, puts the Xperia Ion in the very top echelon of smartphones today that can access the fastest available mobile data connections.
The camera is great for anyone who wants to ditch their point-and-shoot and is looking to quickly edit and share their photos. Then, there’s the promise of PlayStation Portable integration as this Xperia, like others before it, is PlayStation Certified.
So, there you have it. A strong flagship and multimedia smartphone from Sony with high speed LTE connectivity but mired by an older version of Android (and all the limitations attached to that).
The Xperia Ion has one of the best camera experiences on any Android smartphone today and for users who are cool with the dated OS and processor, they will be more than pleased by this phone’s performance and openness to Sony’s Unlimited Music, Unlimited Video and various gaming and multimedia offerings.
Rating: 3 out of 5