If this isn't a great reason to seriously start considering Sony smartphones as an alternative to some of the "locked bootloader" phone OEMs, then I am not sure what would be. Sony just released their own official beta of Android 4.0/Ice Cream Sandwich for folks to try out on their unlocked Sony Xperia devices. Let's see... they allow their phones to be unlocked... check. They even release beta ROMs for the latest Android OS for devs and tinkerers to try out... check. They are starting to come out with better looking and more powerful phones, and update them frequently... check. Look's pretty good to me. At any rate, this new beta doesn't have everything working yet, but it is much farther along than the alpha they had before. Here are some details,
The beta is missing Google apps, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but those have to go through a certification process before they can be included in any official Sony ROM, so that is understandable. Sony even reported that they will be opening up their source code pretty soon so developers can tweak even further. The video above shows off this new beta ROM. For instructions and download links, hit up the Sony link below.Updated UI - We hope you will be happy to see that we have added a number of UI elements from ICS, as well as some new UI features already introduced in the Xperia™ S we announced in January.
Lockscreen and Face Unlock - We have added a shortcut to the camera directly from the lockscreen. Also, when you’re listening to music you can control the music player without unlocking the phone by using the music control icons on the lockscreen. In the coming final ICS upgrade, we will also include the face unlock app from Google for all phones that has a front-facing camera. The Face Unlock feature uses the front-facing camera in combination with advanced object recognition algorithms to provide a new way to unlock the phone. However, since Face Unlock is a Google Mobile Services (GMS) app, it is not included in this ICS beta ROM.
Connectivity turned on - Since we published the ICS alpha ROM, the GSM modem and FM radio have passed the certification and type approval, and they are therefore turned on in this ICS beta release.
Updated email client - The UI has been updated, and simplified email management has been added.
Quick dial - We have added a quick and easy way for you to make phone calls. See how it works in the ISC beta ROM demo video.
Source: SonyMobile - Developer