Unless one has a Nexus device, every Android user has to play the waiting game for software updates. Some will opt to skip the wait and load a custom ROM on there. Others will sit tight and wait till OEMs and carriers deliver the update, usually many months delayed.
But once you have that update, the device takes on a whole new life - especially when you go from that crusty old Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich. We're talking about the Sony Xperia ion (Rogers). Launched with Android 2.3 Gingerbread earlier this year, the Xperia ion has been finally updated to ICS last week. Here's a mini review of the Xperia ion with the semi-latest software from Google.
The Xperia ion has an unmistakably-Sony design. It's a black slab all around, flat on the front and curved on the back. We reviewed the Xperia S a few months back, and it has a similar design as well. We like seeing this uniformity among devices.
It feels very solid in the hands. This phone can definitely take some beating. Although it has a 4.55 inch display, the device feels compact enough to use in one hand. You may have to stretch your digits a bit to reach the top of the screen or the bottom Android buttons, but it's not a huge effort.
The display on the Xperia ion is one of the best we've seen. At 720p resolution it has 323 PPI pixel density, on par with the iPhone 5 and other high-end smartphones. Like all Xperia phones released this year, the Xperia ion utilizes the Mobile Bravia Engine to make contents appear more lively on the display. For certain movies the colours seem too saturated, but this engine can be turned off in the settings.
Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich update transforms the Xperia ion into a whole new phone. Even with Sony's own Xperia skin on top, the ICS update changes many visual elements and modernizes the UI.
It also makes the phone run a lot smoother than before. With ICS, the Qualcomm S3 dual-core 1.5 GHz processor is able to run all of the latest games, such as GTA 3, Fifa 12, and NOVA 3. Even though the benchmark score didn't get a big bump (Quadrant score went from 3,000 to 3,300 with ICS update) games felt smoother and apps launched faster.
I was able to get speeds of 25 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up on the Xperia ion with LTE. Rogers LTE coverage is pretty good in Vancouver, and these speeds were consistent in different areas. The Xperia ion also seems to have good battery for an LTE phone, lasting a whole day with moderate to heavy usage involving push email, browsing, music, video, and cameras.
The Xperia ion is a well-designed phone with all of the features you'd want. And Sony just delivered the final piece of the puzzle with the ICS update. If you are looking for a solid Android phone with LTE, the Xperia ion is a very good choice. You can get the Xperia ion at Rogers for $29.99 on 3-year plans.