Group Test: HTC One X vs. Sony Xperia U vs. Samsung Galaxy S III vs. Huawei Ascend P1 (Part 2)

11/20/2012 8:50:36 AM

With its ICS face-lift, the Sony Xperia S becomes a major player, but battery issues remain an Achilles heel...

Design touches

The Sony Xperia S is built extremely well and feels heavy/sturdy in the palm of your hand. The clear plastic strip that showcases the three Android buttons directly above is also a nice little touch

Description: Description: Description: Sony Xperia S

Feel the pressure

However, the touch-sensitive buttons themselves are a little harder to press than we would have liked, as more pressure is required. At least you don’t accidentally catch them like you do with the buttons on the Huawei

Similar to the HTC, the Sony does not come with a micro SD card expansion slot, which does let the device down a touch.

However, with the 32GB supplied you do get enough free storage to add a series of apps or multimedia content!

HD screen

The Sony comes with a HD screen with the same resolution as the HTC and Samsung offerings. When coupled with the Bravia engine, it provides a great viewing experience. But, when viewed at different angles and max brightness -the screen looks over exposed

The Sony Xperia S has pretty rock solid build quality and this is evident from its weightier feel.

It also adds subtle design touches beneath the 4.3-inch HD screen in the form of a clear strip of plastic emphasising the Android buttons above. However, the touch sensitive buttons do require more pressure and this can be frustrating at times. At least you don't accidentally catch them while typing as you do with the over-sensitive Huawei buttons.

Sony also opts for a side-mounted micro USB and micro HDMI ports held under protective covers. While these do provide added dust protection they can be fiddly to remove when you need to plugin your USB cable. Sadly, Sony does not provide access to the battery compartment, nor does it provide a memory card expansion slot, so it’s just as well that the 25GB of free storage allows you to add plenty of media.

The Xperia S also benefits from the recent ICS upgrade which has mainly added subtle Improvements to the Ul and apps. For example, you can now access the settings option from the notification bar. You also get a Walkman music app, which along with its profile support, provides a great listening experience. The video player even has the ability to display and download cover art to enhance the selection process.

However, the Sony’s best feature has to be the 12-megapixel camera. While shooting at 12MP is only in a 4:3 ratio, the sheer level of features is impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the results. Both detail and colours looked sharp and full of life.

Description: Description: Description: the Sony’s best feature has to be the 12-megapixel camera.

the Sony’s best feature has to be the 12-megapixel camera

Sony’s HD screen though does prove less effective at certain viewing angles, more in terms of the screen being over exposed at maximum brightness, but the sharpness of the fonts and the colour matching in general was great and is certainly enhanced further by the Sony Bravia engine support.

In the Vellamo benchmark tests we ran, the Sony was nearly on par with the HTC, which could explain why we had no problems browsing, streaming content or playing games. It’s a perfect example of how real world use of a dual-core device may not be far behind a quad-core alternative. Sony’s well optimised firmware, now bundled with ICS, was also smooth.

Battery life, unfortunately, is the phone’s Achilles heel and the HD screen does take a larger hit on its life. On a positive note the supplied power-saving app can help reduce the battery deficit.

Head to head


Build quality is enhanced by its weighty feel and brings a premium feel to the table. The port coverings can be a little fiddly and the touch sensitive buttons require more pressure. However, the clear strip of glass that emphasises the latter is a nice touch.

General performance

In our Vellamo benchmarks it notched 1620 VS the Huawei’s 1382, but it paled against the S III. In the CF Bench tests, it also came out slightly lower than the Huawei. In the real world we had no problems running hires videos or games.


The best feature was certainly the 12-MP camera which outperformed the more expensive HTC and Samsung. Coupled with its Bravia engine and HD screen, video playback was great. Only the lack of memory expansion let the phone down.

Battery life

The worst battery life in the group with only 56 per-cent remaining from our video test. Heavy usage proved it would last less than a day. However, if you enable the power saving options, this can improve matters.

Description: Description: Description: The worst battery life in the group with only 56 per-cent remaining from our video test

The worst battery life in the group with only 56 per-cent remaining from our video test


For the price, the Sony offers a fantastic camera and ample performance. Battery life could be a turn off for some


Price: $480

More information:

Technical specs

Operating system........Android 4.0.4

Processor...........................Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon: dual-core 1.5 GHz

Memory..............................1GB RAM, 32GB internal storage; no expansion

Dimensions......................128 x 64 x 10.6 mm


Display..................................4.3-inch LED-backlit LCD, 720 x 1,280 pixels

Connectivity....................Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps

Camera...............................12-MP rear (LED flash), 1.3-MP front camera, 1080p @30fps video recording


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