AT&T Announces the Xperia ion for $99 on June 24

June 14th, 2012

Xperia ion

As I reported here on this blog on June 10, the Xperia ion is coming to AT&T on June 24. AT&T formally announced the Xperia ion with a solid release date and a price tag. The Xperia ion will be available for $99 with contract and requires a data plan. This is a full $100 less than comparable phones from Samsung and HTC. For $99, the ion is priced to sell, and Sony hopes to capture a larger share of the Android market in the United States, where it has been largely overlooked.

My source told me the other day that they hoped to release the phone with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), which contributed to the delayed launch. There was no mention of ICS in the press release, so it looks like it will indeed be released with Gingerbread. I would expect the upgrade to come soon however, especially knowing that the upgrade is already in the works. The version of Android aside, this phone is very able to compete in the high-end phone market. Here is a review of the specs:

  • 4.6″ 16 million color TFT display, with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels
  • 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 MSM8260 dual-core processor
  • Adreno 220 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB eMMC internal memory
  • microSD up to 32GB
  • Supports UMTS/HSPA+ 850/1900/2100, GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 bands, and LTE Band IV and Band XVII
  • HD Reality Display, with Mobile BRAVIA Engine
  • xLOUD audio filter
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • NFC enabled
  • ANT+ enabled
  • 12.1MP camera with Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor for low light, supports 1080p video
  • 1.3 MP front-facing camera, supports 720p video
  • Camera Features: LED Flash, Auto Focus, 16X Digital Zoom, 3D Sweep Panorama mode, and Face Detection
  • Transfer Content through DLNA, HDMI and BRAVIA Sync
  • 1500 mAh Battery
  • PlayStation Certified

This phone should do pretty well against the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X. The Galaxy has a larger battery and Gorilla Glass, and HTC has a larger battery. They are otherwise quite comparable. Sony does have a lot more at stake than the other two manufacturers, at least in the United States. This will mark the beginning of Sony’s solo comeback run, having bought out Ericsson’s stake in Sony Ericsson.

Sony has a lot of catching up to do, particularly in mind share. People need to think of Sony when they think of Android, rather than Samsung, Motorola, or HTC. The Xperia ion is certainly a move in the right direction. AT&T has not done so well historically in getting the word out about Sony Ericsson phones. Hopefully Sony’s marketing department will be up to the task.

You can learn more about the Xperia ion at Sony Store or at the Sony Mobile page.

AT&T Prepping for Xperia ion?

June 12th, 2012

I was searching for any current news about the Xperia ion from Sony, and found a link to AT&T’s website. I followed the link to a product page featuring a case for the ion. The product is the DualTek Rugged White/Gray Case, priced at $40. With an in-store release date no later than June 24 seeming increasingly likely, the fact that this product is on AT&T’s site is encouraging.

Interestingly, searching for ion on the AT&T site will only provide results for lithium-ion batteries. The case does not show up in the search results. It could be that Google is indexing things early, as with the initial June release announcement, or it may simply be new enough that AT&T’s search feature has not fully indexed the site.

One of Sony’s best features is the camera. Motorola is about to release a phone (Atrix 3 perhaps?) with a 13MP camera, so Sony would do well to release this 12.1MP camera phone in advance, and quickly follow up with the U.S. version of the Xperia GX, which also features a 13MP camera. It would not be good to let Motorola cut in on Sony’s primary differentiating feature.

I am looking forward to trying out the ion, and seeing how well it does against the competition. It looks it won’t be too much longer until I get the chance. Are you interested in the ion, or are you holding out for Sony’s next generation? Let me know in the comments.

Sony’s Surprise is a Countdown with a Twist

June 11th, 2012

The surprise Sony referenced on their tweet does appear to be about a product announcement. They decided to make a game of it though, and set the announcement date for June 22. Fans can log into Facebook and click a fast forward button to bring the announcement around before the 22nd. So far, it has already moved to the 21st. According to the page (and at the time this was written), 4,336 fans have clicked the fast forward button, advancing the announcement by 1 day, 0 hours, 5 minutes, and 20 seconds. Unfortunately you have to be logged into Facebook to participate in this, which means those of us who don’t use Facebook regularly will have to start if we want to play the game.

Clicking the fast forward button unlocks a competition as well. There appear to be four slots available, so the prizes for these unlock-able competitions could be some new or as-yet-unannounced phones. You can click the fast forward button once per day, so it will be interesting to see how the fans respond. You can go directly to the contest through the link Sony posted on twitter, or by clicking here for the same link.

Whether it is one phone or four they are about to announce, this should be interesting. Sony has not had as big a presence in the United States compared with other manufacturers, which may be largely due to a lack of awareness. Using Facebook may change this, but I am personally not a fan of any contest being held exclusively within Facebook, or requiring a Facebook log-in credential to play.

If you are a Facebook fan, or at least a big enough Sony fan to move past your dislike of Facebook, you should participate in this contest. With one click per user per day, this could either count down very slowly or can accelerate rapidly with enough participation. Let’s hope that the fans come out, and that the announcement is worth the hype.