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Review: Sony Xperia Ion for AT&T

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The Ion ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread but will be updated to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich shortly, according to Sony. The Ion has a user interface skin from Sony that offers its own spin on social networking and other functions, but leaves the core experience fairly close to stock Android.

Perhaps the most useful feature is the ability to customize lock screen notifications. For example, you can choose to see all notifications from the lock screen, or just emails and missed calls, or just text messages and Facebook messages. You can pick and choose from six different notification types, as well as turn them all off.

The lock screen stops short of being awesome, however, because there aren't any lock screen shortcuts. At least you can alter the sound profile from on to silent and vice versa from the lock screen. But still, hugely customizable notifications and no lock screen shortcuts? *Shakes My Head*

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Five home screen panels offer plenty of room for users to customize their device with apps, shortcuts, and widgets. The main app menu is organized in a grid that you swipe left and right to access different panels. Thankfully, the order of the apps can be completely customized by the owner, as well as sorted alphabetically and by frequency. There's also a helpful tool in the settings menu (different from the native application management function) that lets you hide certain apps from the main menu, such as those installed by AT&T.

One thing I liked: Sony added home screen folders to the Ion, even though it runs Android 2.3. Just as on an Android 4.0 (ICS) device, you can drag-and-drop home screen icons onto one another, and they'll automatically create a new folder on the home screen.

In terms of performance, I didn't notice any problems. Screen transitions on the home panels were smooth and free of stutters. Apps opened quickly, and the system didn't crash on me. The only issue I saw were several widgets that were slow to update content.


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