Sony Xperia S up for UK pre-order

The first solely Sony-branded Android smartphone, the Sony Xperia S, has gone up for sale, with pre-orders accepted in the UK ahead of the 4.3-inch handset's release in early March. Priced at free with a new agreement from retailer Phones 4u, the Xperia S has a 1280 x 720 display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 32GB of storage and 1080p HD video recording support, in addition to NFC and HDMI connectivity.

You also get WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and DLNA support, together with a 12-megapixel main camera and a front-facing camera for video calls. Like LG with the Optimus LTE Tag, Sony will be offering NFC tags that can instantly switch the Xperia S into silent mode or trigger other macros when the smartphone is held nearby.

The only blot on the landscape is the OS: Sony has used Android 2.3 Gingerbread rather than Ice Cream Sandwich, though an upgrade is in the pipeline. That should take place in Q2 2012, the company said at the Xperia S' launch back at CES (where we also grabbed some hands-on playtime).

The first 250 to pre-order the smartphone from Phones 4u will also get a free SmartWatch. The Xperia S is the European version of the Sony Xperia ion shown in our hands-on video below: