Sony Xperia S

Engadget: The Sony-branded Xperia S sports a 4.3-inch LCD with a 1280×720 pixel format. The pure 16:9 1280×720 pixel format is alluring. As a 720p HD playback and capture device the 1280×720 is perfect, pixel perfect. The resolution is 341.54 ppi, beating the Retina Display on the iPhone 4/4S.

Unfortunately, higher resolution on iOS and higher resolution on Android is not the same thing. On the iPhone the Retina Display means more clarity: text looks absolutely crisp and graphics are just gorgeous. On Android higher resolution means smaller fonts and smaller icons. Kind of like what you see in the computer world. For instance, a 15.6-inch LCD with 1920×1080 will have tiny fonts and icons compared to one with 1366×768. Yes there is the option in Windows to change DPI settings, but to me the results are simply ugly. Android is kind of like Windows in that higher resolution means everything gets smaller. To counter that displays have gotten bigger. 1280×720 on Android requires a biggish 4.x-inch display for exactly that reason. For me, I prefer what Apple did with iOS: make pixels work to generate more clarity.

12 megapixels on a smartphone seems too much. The rear camera on the Xperia S uses Sony’s Exmor R backside illumination technology to improve light capture, but unless the image sensor is really big Sony probably packed in too many pixels. I would be surprised if low-light photography is any good. What is good is the time it takes to snap a photo: Sleep-to-photo takes just 1.5 seconds, which is significantly faster than both the Nokia N9 and Apple iPhone 4.

In terms of design, I am not fond of plastering brands and sub-brands all over the front face of a smartphone. The carrier logos are hideous! Thankfully I don’t see one of them on the front of the Xperia S, but if it were my decision I would have moved SONY to where XPERIA is. The Sony logo feels like it was forcibly squeezed in there; there isn’t enough vertical space. On the back, there are six elements. The lens looks too close to the edge making it difficult if not impossible to securely grip the phone from that side. Except for the lens and flash the other four are probably unnecessary, especially the meaningless round logo. But the worst is the entire form. The back is slightly curved, but not curved enough, and makes the overall shape look a bit dumb.

Update 2012.03.08: Sharif Sakr:

The screen performs admirably outdoors and proves just what LCD is capable when it’s implemented properly. While some other LCD displays can be quickly obscured by excessive reflections outdoors, the Xperia S’ panel retains its contrast much better. There’s a consistent yellow tinge to all white areas, especially compared to the more neutral Retina Display on the iPhone 4, but the Mobile BRAVIA Engine seems to make up for that when watching movies and stills. Overall, it’s clear that Sony has invested a lot of time and money in getting this new panel just right.

Sony seems to have done a solid job on the display.