Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Sony Xperia Ion: Which AT&T LTE Smartphone to Buy?

25 June 2012, 12:19 pm EDT By Johnny Wills Mobile & Apps

Introduced at Mobile World Congress, Sony Xperia Ion is finally rolling out from AT&T. Sony is aiming to return to U.S. smartphone market with full impact with the new smartphone. Packing some cool features like 4.5-inch HD display, 12-megapixel camera and 4G LTE connectivity, the Xperia Ion is Sony's direct attack on Samsung Galaxy S3's sales.

Samsung's newest flagship model is also hitting AT&T shelves shortly. With the two top-notch smartphones available from the carrier, the smartphone war is going to confuse many Android fans who are planning to buy a new smartphone from the carrier.

We are making the decision a little easier here. Check out the comparison and tell us which smartphone you would go for.

Design and Display

Looking at Sony Xperia Ion, it fails to give the impression of a finely carved masterpiece. However, it is still a little ahead of Samsung with dark metal backplate as compared to the plastic backcover in Galaxy S3. Nevertheless, it is more than 2mm thicker and 11g heavier than Samsung Galaxy S3.

Xperia Ion has 4.55-inch LED backlit LCD display with resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. Samsung Galaxy S3 also packs the same number of pixels on 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display. At 323ppi pixel density, Xperia Ion beats Galaxy S3 (306ppi), but the LCD display lacks the perfect black spots as seen on AMOLED displays. In addition, there is no automatic brightness feature in Xperia Ion. Users will need to change the screen brightness manually every time they step outside.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S3

Processor, Memory and Storage

The U.S. version of Galaxy S3 runs on dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor chip. The device has 2GB of RAM and 16/32GB of internal storage with microSD card support up to 64GB. On the other hand, Xperia Ion packs the older dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S3 chipset, which is comparably slower than the latest S4 chips. Xperia Ion has 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage with microSD card support up to 32GB.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S3


The 12-megapixel snapper located at the back adds fame to the name of Sony Xperia Ion. It captures photos with resolution of 4000 x 3000 pixels. An identical feature in camera UI is 3D Panorama mode. In comparison, the 8-megapixel optic sensor in Samsung Galaxy S3 churns out a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. The front facing camera in Xperia Ion is 1.3-megapixel. In Galaxy S3, the secondary camera is 1.9-megapixel.

Winner: Sony Xperia Ion

User Interface

The biggest letdown for Xperia Ion is that, unlike Galaxy S3, it runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box. However, Sony has confirmed Android 4.0 ICS update for the smartphone, but it would have been more appropriate to offer the latest Android OS in the package. It also lacks the innovative software features found in Galaxy S3 like a voice assistant (S Voice), Pop-up Play, S Beam and smart eye tracking.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S3


Samsung Galaxy S3 is yet to release on AT&T. The device is up for preorders for $199 (16GB model) with a 2-year contract with AT&T. On the other hand, Sony Xperia Ion is selling as AT&T exclusive for $99 on 2-year contract.

Winner: Sony Xperia Ion


There is much to like about Sony Xperia Ion, but it misses some of the flagship features with Ice Cream Sandwich being one of them. Xperia Ion is more leaning towards the top end of mid-range smartphone world. In case you do not want to spend extra $100 on the top-of-the-line smartphone like Galaxy S3, Xperia Ion suits you the best. Nevertheless, for those who are in search of a true high-end smartphone will have to rethink about buying Xperia Ion as Samsung Galaxy S3 is overall a better smartphone than Xperia Ion.

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