AT&T Sony Xperia Ion Review

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Our friends over at Sony have sent us the AT&T Xperia Ion for us to review. This device was first unveiled at 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, and since then many of the devices from companies like HTC or Samsung have hit the market. The Xperia Ion is going for a different consumer though, not the top-tier but the good device that is somewhere in the middle. Just a few days ago it got the upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which shows that Sony wants to keep giving their devices and customers the latest and greatest experience possible. It has a 12 megapixel back camera, AT&T 4G LTE speeds, and more. But should the Xperia Ion be your next phone? We will answer that in the full review which begins right now!

 

Design

The AT&T Sony Xperia Ion is a large device, with it’s 4.6-inch display it’s size is comparable to that of the LG Intuition or Samsung Galaxy Note. Yet, at the same time it fits very nicely in your hand. It has a very industrial design, that I personally like a lot. It has a brushed aluminum back that feels very nice in the hand, it is a black color. Although it does show some finger prints on the back, simply cleaning it brings it back to normal. And the back of the device is curved, this helps to make it easier and more comfortable to hold. At its thickest point it comes in around 0.46-inches thick. It does not feel to thick in your hands. On the back of the device you have a 12-megapixel camera with LED flash, a speaker, and the Xperia logo. On the top of the device you have a headphone jack and on the bottom you have a microphone. Above the display you will find an AT&T logo, LED notification light earpiece, and a 720pHD front-facing camera. Below the display you the 4 android buttons, those being the menu, home, back, and search buttons. You will also find a Sony logo below the display. Your power/sleep button, shutter(camera) button, and volume rocker can be found on the right hand side. On the left hand side you can find the micro USB port and mini HDMI port. I think the best way to describe the design of the Ion would be that it is simple yet industrial. It is a very nice mix and makes for a great design.

 

Hardware

Believe it or not by the AT&T Xperia Ion was Sony’s first 4G LTE smartphone. The good part about this is that if you are not yet covered by AT&T 4G LTE, you are running on 4G HSPA+ from AT&T. So, you will get faster speeds than 3G. And as many of you know this is always a good thing. Throughout our testing we were switching back and forth between AT&T’s 4G LTE and 4G HSPA+ network our average speeds were, 3Mbps for download and 2Mbps for upload. This is a low-speed test but, viewing webpages and watching YouTube videos was a very nice experience. And we had an awesome 4.6-inch HD Reality Display to view them on. This display has a resolution of 1280 X 720 and has the Mobile BRAVIA engine so it has even better quality. When you view it from the side the colors light up a little too much, but it doesn’t impact your viewing experience too much. When viewing it straight on, the colors look very vibrant and it is a very enjoyable experience to watch or view something on the Xperia Ion. Sony did a very good job with the display on the AT&T Xperia Ion! On the Xperia Ion you don’t just get speed from AT&T’s network, you also have a 1.5GHz Dual-Core processor with 1GB of RAM inside. I had the opportunity to test out the Xperia Ion both with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and after I updated the device it began to run much faster. Even with all of the new features from the 4.0 upgrade it continues to keep moving. Multitasking is very fast and there is almost no delay when swiping through different screens with many applications open. You have 16GB of internal storage and a micro SD card slot is hidden under a small back cover. The black piece of plastic above the 12-megapixel back camera does come off, and underneath it you will find the micro SD card slot and AT&T Sim Card slot. Now, let’s move onto the cameras on the AT&T Sony Xperia Ion. You have a 12-megapixel camera with LED flash on the back of the device. For starters the LED flash is very powerful and can wash out the images, so just be sure to check if you need it or not. The quality of the images were very good, but I am not sure if it was 12-megapixel good. It was definitely as good if not better than many of the 8-megapixel cameras on the market today. You do have to be really careful with the flash though as it can wash out the images, but in very dark conditions it will come in very handy. It is nice that it does have a dedicated shutter button, which is feature that is great to have but for some reason many companies do not include it on their devices. It does record video in 1080pHD and playing it back on the 4.6-inch HD Reality Display is great. For the majority Sony did an amazing job with the AT&T Sony Xperia Ion’s hardware.

 

Software: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich With A Sony User Interface

As I mentioned before the Xperia Ion just received the long-awaited updated to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and with that upgrade it brought new features and made the operating system much faster. It also shows that Sony is committed to giving their customers the latest and greatest features for their devices. The upgrade it self took around 15-20 minutes for it too update completely. The upgrade is done through the Sony Bridge application on the computer. Keep in mind that the first restart/turn-on will take longer than usual as it is setting up the software and applications. However, the time it takes to update the operating system is well worth it. Let’s start off with the basics, for starters the entire phone runs much faster. From turning-on, to opening applications, to multitasking, the Android 4.0 upgrade made it much faster. You also now have the popular feature Face Unlock, you can see data usage in settings, a redesigned settings menu and much more! Sony’s user interface is very simple and for the most part it looks like the stock operating system. Sony decided to put an application called “Liveware Manager” on the device. This lets you have certain application’s turn on, when you use accessories. So if you plug-in a pair of headphones or connect to a speaker via bluetooth you can have launch a music application. This is a very nice application, that works very well. You also get the Xperia SmartTags application, this allows you to set up and use the Xperia SmartTags. These are NFC or Near Field Communications “buttons”, they are similar to the Samsung TecTiles or LG Tag +’s. Except that these are more durable and built better, they have a plastic covering and are circles, that come in different colors. They also have a “hole” on the top, which means you can put these on key chains or hang them from something else. You can customize these to go to a certain web page, turn WiFi on or off, and much more. And of course all of this is done with a simple tap of the phone on the Smart Tag. Sony sell’s the Xperia SmartTags in a 4-pack for the price of $19.99, For More Information On The Xperia SmartTags, Please Click Here. Sony included the “Timescape” application as well, this is a super unique and awesome way to view your Social Media feeds from services like Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, and Facebook. It displays them as each post stacked on top of each other and you can scroll through them. And when your scroll through the stack it starts turning in different directions. You can tap on the post for more information regarding each individual post. This is definitely one of the coolest pre-loaded applications on the Xperia Ion and on the many devices I have ever tested out. In terms of other pre-loaded applications you also get Amazon Kindle, Astro, AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T Family Map, AT&T Navigator, Facebook, Google App Suite, FM Radio, Connected Devices, Google Chrome, Google Play, AT&T Live TV, LiveWare Manager, AT&T Messages, myAT&T, Office Suite, Power Saver, Settings, Setup Guide, Update Center, WALKMAN, YouTube, Yellow Pages, and more. While you do get many pre-loaded applications, many of them will come in handy and if you don’t like them you should be able to delete some of them. Keep in mind that AT&T Sony Xperia Ion works perfectly with the Sony Entertainment Network, meaning that you can use Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited, and you can access special games thanks to the Xperia Ion being PlayStation Certified. The Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with the Sony User Interface is an awesome upgrade and makes the Xperia Ion much better.

 

Bottom Line

The AT&T Sony Xperia Ion is a great device, that many of you looking for a new smartphone on AT&T may not have found. Since the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade it has become a really nice contender in the smartphone race. It has a really nice design that is both simple and industrial. It has speed from a 1.5GHz Dual-Core processor with 1GB of RAM and AT&T 4G LTE/4G HSPA+ speeds. The 4.6-inch HD Reality Display is amazing and a true joy to watch videos on. While the 12-megapixel camera with LED flash is not the best, you can still get some good photos out of it. You have 16GB of internal storage plus a micro SD card, expandable space is always a nice treat and an important feature. And lastly you have an amazing software experience, that features some amazing pre-loaded applications like Xperia SmartTags, Timescape, LiveWare Manager, and many more. And the best part about the AT&T Sony Xperia Ion may be that it is only $99.99 with a 2-year contract($449.99 with no-contract). If you are looking for a new smartphone and don’t want to spend that much money but, still want to get a good device you should check out the AT&T Sony Xperia Ion. For More Information On The AT&T Sony Xperia Ion, Please Click Here. We would like to thank Sony for providing us with a copy of the “AT&T Sony Xperia Ion”.

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