We first saw Sony’s flagship Xperia, the ion, back at CES 2012 and after all this time, the phone will finally hit the U.S with AT&T for a contract price of $99 (Rs. 5,500). The phone will also support SmartTags, Sony’s name for programmable NFC chips. While there’s still no word on when Sony will launch it internationally, we suspect it shouldn't be too long before an official announcement. When the phone was announced,  Paul Hamnett, President, Sony Mobile Communcations had said, “With Xperia ion, we’re bringing together several firsts that will take users beyond the smartphone. Designed to deliver a seamless experience across the multiple screens we use to play, watch, listen, and share, Xperia ion is the gateway to entertainment when and – most importantly – where you want it.

First Sony branded handset announced

Finally hitting retail!

While this may be Sony’s flagship offering, it’s not the most powerful smartphone in the market when you compare it to other quad-core beasts. It does have some really stand out features, however like a 4.6-inch display, the ability to access to Sony services, like Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited as well as being a PlayStation certified handset. It will also pack in the same Xperia S camera sensor, which we really loved. The ion also differs from the rest of the handsets from their NXT range in design, as it lacks the translucent strip at the bottom. It seems like all major handsets makers are really pushing for NFC. Nokia was the first to take the lead, recently followed by Samsung and their TecTiles. The idea behind the tags is that you can program them to perform any function you want. For instance, if you have the habit of putting you phone on silent before going to bed or switching GPS  and Wi-Fi off, you simply program the tag to perform these tasks and place it you nightstand, so every time you place your phone on the tag, the function is initiated.

Here are some of the specifications of the Xperia ion:

  • 4.6-inch capacitive touchscreen display with a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution
  • 3G, EDGE/GPRS and Wi-Fi capabilities for net access
  • GPS with A-GPS support for Google Maps
  • Bluetooth with A2DP and USB 2.0 (Micro)
  • 12MP camera with LED flash and secondary camera up front
  • FM radio
  • 16GB internal + microSD card support for up to 32GB more memory

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