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Pricey, but a helluva performer

Not too long ago, Sony was a name that many automatically associated with products that were both easy on the eye and terrific performers. However, that reputation seemed to take a bit of a knock in the smartphone department over the past year or two with the company coming out with a plethora of devices that were oddly shaped and in some cases, did not exactly rock when it came to performance. Things took a change for the better earlier this year with the launch of the new Xperia series, and with the Xperia Ion, Sony finally seems to have cracked the ‘style with substance’ equation.

For, let’s be blunt about this, the Xperia Ion is one of the best-looking smartphones we have ever seen. No, it is certainly not razor (or should that be RAZR) thin as some of its competitors are, but the jet black front, dominated by a 4.6-inch display is arresting, and the slightly convex metallic back is downright classy — we got one in red and it turned people’s heads everywhere, from cafes to general stores. Sony has stuck to its Xperia design guns, opting for a minimalistic look — only the right side of the device has any buttons (volume, power on/off, camera) while the USB and HDMI ports are on the right and covered by a panel, while a 3.5 mm jack is on the top of the device.

Yes, it is a bit on the wide side at 2.7 inches and at 144 grammes, is not lightweight but the Xperia Ion is one of the most classy-looking phones we have held in our hands for a while. It looks good and feels reassuringly solid, and there is no irritating transparent bar (as in some Xperia devices) beneath the display to spoil its look.

It is not just about looks, though. Powered by a dual core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm processor and running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the Ion works brilliantly. Yes, we know that there are quad core devices in the market, but we did not see it lagging when it came to handling high-definition games such as Shadowgun, multi-tasking, browsing the Web and social networks, and even while editing videos and images. And making it all look awesome is arguably the best display we have seen on a handset — its 1280 x 720 resolution makes watching films and reading text a delight, and surprisingly, it is very visible even in bright sunlight.

Round that off with a 12.0-megapixel camera that takes some very good snaps and records HD video, excellent audio quality and stacks of connectivity options (HDMI, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS) and you have a device that can go toe to toe against any smartphone out there.

If it has a stumbling block, it is the price. At approximately Rs 36,500, the Xperia Ion is one of the more expensive smartphones in the Indian market. And those who love quoting tech specs will drag out the fact that unlike the Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X and the LG Optimus 4X, it does not even have a quad core processor. We will, however, limit ourselves to pointing out that in terms of display and camera quality, the Ion is more than a match for those worthies, and honestly, we are not too convinced by the “quad core is better” argument as most dual core (and even some single core devices like he Intel Xolo) perform most tasks just as well.

Throw in its classy appearance and we feel that the Sony Xperia Ion is the best smartphone in the market for those not bitten by the iPhone bug. Beast inside, beauty outside. Android has not had too many better ambassadors. Yes, it is expensive, but then whoever said beauty with brains came cheap? 

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