After buying out Ericsson’s share of their joint venture earlier this year, Sony’s inaugural run of solo-branded smartphones shows the Japanese heavyweight has no intention of ceding the market just yet to Korean competitors like Samsung and LG without a fight. The Xperia S features a 4.3-inch 720p display with a 1.5GHZ dual-core processor, a 12 megapixel Exmor R camera sensor, NFC support, and PlayStation gaming certification. The similarly sleek Ion essentially boasts the same spec sheet, but bumps the display up to a massive 4.6-inches and includes LTE support for AT&T’s network. At launch time, both will ship with Android 2.3, but Sony has pledged that an upgrade to ICS will come to both sometime later. Howard Stringer and team still have miles of mountain to climb to truly regain their former perch as the company to beat when it comes to design, but as first runs go, these handsets are pretty promising.