Sony Xperia Ion

Remember my previous review about Nokia Lumia 800? The phone is so bad that I've decided to get rid of it. So last week, I put it up for sale at Mudah and let the phone go for a considerably cheaper price than when I bought it. Some poor young chinese guy bought it from me. Poor as in 'he will regret it in a week's time' kind of poor. Yes the Lumia 800 sucks that much.

Now that I sold my good smartphone (my bad smartphone is my 2 years old iPhone 4), I had to get myself another one. Together with some money that I saved, I went to The Mines to get myself a new phone.

I had a few phones in mind before I made myself there. As always I did some extensive research, read the review and hand-ons on blogs and YouTube. See what current users has to say. I was thinking of getting myself either the Huawei P700, Lenovo S890 or a second hand 8GB Nexus 4. That's what my budget like anyway, below 1k ringgit. Once I got to The Mines though, there were very few Huawei devices in sight and no Lenovo smartphones at all. I guess they don't sell less well-known devices there at The Mines. So I changed my strategy and looked for second hand Samsung Note and Galaxy SIII instead.

That's when I stumble upon this used Sony Xperia Ion unit. After much testing, I've decided that fate brought me to this particular shop and imma be the new owner of this beautiful Xperia Ion smartphone. I won't bore you with the specs. Suffice to say it comes with dual core processors, 1GB RAM, 16GB space, 12MP camera and 4.55" screen.Even if I didn't find the Xperia Ion, I was looking for a 4" and larger screen. I've had enough of 3.5" (or 3.7") screens for my smartphones. Save for my trusty iPhone 4 all small screen phone sucks, especially you Lumia 800.

OS-wise, the Ion sports Android 4.04 Ice cream sandwich which is one iteration behind the latest Android update. Sony has confirmed there will be an official update some time in July but until then guess I'll have to be content with 4.04 which is still not too shabby.

The Xperia Ion is made with solid-looking plastic and metal back. Since it's Sony, the plastic doesn't feel cheap at all and the metal back adds a sturdy and polished finish to the phone. Up front you have the 4.55" screen, 1.3 MP front-facing camera, small notification light and 4 virtual menu buttons. Top of the phone is one standard 3.5mm audio jack and at the bottom nothing but a tiny hole for microphone. On the right side we have the power button and right below it the volume rocker. On the left side is a little latch for one micro USB port and one micro HDMI port which is pretty useful for playing movies or music from your smartphone on a television set.

At the back we have a non-removable cover which house the main camera and LED flash light. The SIM and micro SD card slot are hidden behind a little removable cover at the top side of the phone's rear. The brushed metal finish at the back makes the phone a pleasure to hold and grasp. And since it's metal, it won't attract much fingerprint or dirt like some plastic Android phone. The phone is quite light and slim too. At least it won't sag down your pants when you carry it around.

The screen at 4.5" is alright. I wish it could be bigger like 4.7" or even 5.0" maybe. The OS, 4.04 is not the latest so you might miss some of the better feature of 4.2 Jelly bean. However since an update is coming next month, it's just a matter of time. The virtual button in front however takes a little bit of time to get used too. First few days I had trouble pressing all the home, back, search and that other icon. Turns out I had to swipe them upwards a little bit to make it response. It's weird since I'm so used to my Nexus 7 and Nexus 4 which response smoothly when I press the virtual buttons normally.

One beef I had with the Ion is the latched-covered USB & HDMI ports on the left. I wish they'd put a normal uncovered port at the bottom of the phone like Nexus 4 and many other Android phones. The cover makes it a chore for me to open and close it carefully whenever I wanna charge the phone or connect the USB cable for transfer. One of these days I might lose the cover altogether. The stock Android keyboard is customizable but the strange thing is you have to tap twice to find the '&' key which is a hassle since I use that a lot.

The 12 MP camera features Mobile Bravia engine which produces excellent picture in normal daylight condition but average pictures at night or low-light conditions. This is also true for the HD video capture which makes great video when there's sufficient lighting but slightly grainy video at light. The dedicated camera button works most of the time even when the screen is lock. Other times it would just not response which is not uncommon for phones with such buttons. Sound produced by the Xperia Ion is loud and clear and you can get an extra boost if you turn on the xLOUD setting in the phone. The basic ringtones that comes with the phone left much to be desired including the super boring default ringtone, a relic of Sony-Ericsson days.

After a few weeks of use, I find the Xperia Ion to be fast and responsive thanks to the dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. The 16GB storage space is also a welcomed addition although I get to use about 11.5GB of it. You won't get that much space from entry level Android phones from Huawei, Lenovo or Acer. Add a micro SD card and you'll get up to 32GB more storage. Sony did a little bit of customization on the stock Android OS, although not so much as to slow down the phone or anything. There's still a couple of bloatware that comes with the phone that you won't be able to remove unless you root the phone. Speaking of rooting, I still haven't done so since the instruction is a little bit more complicated than advanced algebra.

Overall I must say I am quite pleased with the Xperia Ion. The screen size, speed, storage size and features are quite good for a phone under RM1K. If you have a little bit more to spend, I would still recommend you get the Nexus 4 - still the best Android phone in the market at the moment. However this still beats any Nokia Lumia or Windows phone anytime.

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