JAPANESE PHONE MAKER Sony's Xperia S is the firm's first handset to ship since it bought out Ericsson's stake in the joint mobile venture earlier this year.
It's an attractive device with some nice design features and is likely to become a lot more attractive from April onwards, when the handset is due to get an upgrade from the Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS to the latest release, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
As soon as you get the Xperia S out of the box you can't but help notice its shape. Its 128x64x10.6mm dimensions make it longer and narrower than many other handsets on the market, and it's comparable in size to the HTC Evo 3D.The handset is available in black or white and is a very angular design with squared off edges rather than the normal rounded shape. It has a curved back that is made out of black plastic.
This design might not suit everyone - we found the phone fine to use for making calls, but more awkward to hold for long periods in landscape mode for typing.
Another key design feature is the clear see-through bar running across the bottom of the handset. This has the Back, Home and Menu icons, although the buttons for these actually sit above the bar under the screen. The clear bar also houses the radio antenna out of the way, meaning you shouldn't get the same kinds of signal problems that many Iphone users have had in the past.The Xperia S weighs 144g, so it's at the heavier end of the smartphone set, especially compared to its Android rival, the Samsung Galaxy S II.
The display is undeniably gorgeous. It's a 4.3in TFT touchscreen boasting 1280x720 resolution with 16 million colours. As a reference, the Iphone 4S features a 3.5in display with 960x640 resolution, while the Samsung Galaxy S II has a 4.3in Super AMOLED 800x480 resolution screen.
Watching HD video or viewing photos on the Xperia S, you can really tell what a high-quality display this is, as the picture is sharp and bright. The speedy processor also makes video viewing and web browsing a pleasure, everything was quick to load and very smooth.
The camera is a real selling point of the Xperia S. It offers a 12.1MP camera with 16x digital zoom, facial recognition and auto focus. There are several shooting modes to choose from, including 3D or normal panoramic image, allowing you to slowly pan around a scene and create extra wide shots. There's also a 1.3MP front-facing camera.
Photo taken on the Xperia S
You can shoot HD 1080p video and watch Adobe Flash videos, something you still won't get on the Iphone. Our test shots were of a high quality, as was the video we shot. There's also a 3D camera app, but we couldn't test it out properly as we don't have access to a 3D TV.