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Sony Xperia Ion
What's hot: Gorgeous display, elegant looks with quality materials.
What's not: Last generation CPU and ships with Android 2.3.
Reviewed July 6, 2012 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
This is a Video Review.
The Sony Xperia Ion is a sweet phone for a great price that's just not getting enough love. For $99 you get an award winning design with a sleek glass front and curved metal back, LTE 4G and a 12MP camera. And you thought the once $99 Nokia Lumia was a good deal? The Ion tops it for hardware specs. The phone has a 4.6" 720p display with Sony's various marketing names heaped on (Bravia, HD Reality Display) that's simply stunning, and it has HDMI out with an intuitive TV app.
So what's the catch? It runs Android OS 2.3.7 Gingerbread rather than 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. That's doubly vexing when Sony recently updated older Xperia models to ICS. As a consolation, they say the Ion will get ICS too (no, we don't know when "soon" is). In the meantime, the Sony UI on top of Android is light, and you get a fairly clean Android experience.
While the latest top dog phones like the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III run on the fourth generation Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU, the Sony Xperia Ion runs on a third gen Snapdragon S3 clocked at 1.5GHz. It has Adreno 220 graphics, and honestly it's no slouch. Human nature and our fear of obsolesce drive us toward the fastest thing we can buy, but the Snapdragon S3 was this spring's top performer and it's still respectable with a Quadrant score of 3100.
Voice quality is excellent: we noted landline clarity on both ends and good volume. Reception is similar to the competition (One X and Samsung Galaxy S III) and data speeds are excellent on AT&T's LTE network.
The star of the show is no doubt the 12 megapixel rear camera with flash. It has a fast f2.4 lens and a Sony Exmor R sensor that can shoot 1080p video and some of the nicest photos we've seen from a phone. Colors are particularly impressive: rich and accurate. We took some night life street shots and were impressed with the camera's low light color and contrast capture.