That Yellow Bastard

It is with some disappointment I write this post, but in the spirit of reporting the rough with the smooth, I shall continue.

Unfortunately it seems even the mighty Xperia S is not beyond the touch of the dreaded ‘Sony Launch Curse’ that afflicted the launch of the Arc last year, in the shape of an audio sync glitch when recording HD video.

Starting about two weeks after launch, stories appeared on the XDA forum and the Sony Mobile forums, telling tales of piss-yellow patches appearing in the middle of the lower portion of the screen. Inspection of my handset showed I too had been struck down by the curse. Woe is me.

Further woe was added when reading these forums again; it seems the company response to this issue had initially been inconsistent, with replies ranging from:

* Return the handset for a free replacement
* Return the handset for repair
* Return the handset for a fee of £/$300 to replace!
* It’s a software issue – (Erm, yeah, ok… And monkey’s will fly out my butt! Although….)

Fair enough, it could be a software issue as it’s affecting a number of handsets and that’s one thing they have in common. The other common factor is they’re all made from the same components; could this be an issue?

The simple answer is yes, it’s a hardware issue. Any time the phone is heated above 30C i.e. when it’s in your pocket(!) the glue used to manufacture the screen starts to heat up and causes discolouration in the display. Doing something that is quite intensive like playing a game, watching a film, browsing the t’interweb or running StabilityTest to really push the phone, the sides of the screen heats the phone further. Checking my own handset once I’d gotten to 37C, after running StabilityTest, the yellow bastard had spread up the sides of the screen.

Cooling the phone down to below 30C the colouration does indeed dissipate, however this doesn’t negate from the fact it will happen again and laughs in the face of the beauty of this otherwise impressive screen. Even ‘repaired’ handsets have had similar problems so it’s not simply limited to a specific batch of phones. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps running StabilityTest for an extended period of time may well cook off the imperfections in the glue – but this may well warrant further investigation before giving the dual-core processor the hammering StabilityTest delivers.

EDIT: Further reading has revealed a user who fired up StabilityTest then wrapped the XS in a blanket to really fuel the furnace and heat the handset to over 40C, effectively curing the problem – and the glue, boom boom!

The most astounding thing is how this slipped past QC – are these phones only tested in an hermetically sealed, temperature controlled vault? Surely the handset would’ve been road-tested ‘in the wild’ i.e. travelling around in someone’s pocket getting warm and sweaty? Obviously not in this case, but this is another excellent example for getting handsets out and about a month or two early for real-world testing BEFORE they launch with another embarrassing problem!

It’s not really doing any damage to sales figures as it’s proving a very popular phone, and it is an amazing phone, but it’s such a shame for early adopters to be tarnished with a slightly dodgy display!

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  1. At it again… « Hurf vs Xperia - August 5, 2012

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