Sony Ericsson’s initial range of Xperia phones got a mixed response from the tech press and consumers alike. Has it learnt its lesson for the Arc? Read our review to find out.
It’s hard to fault the Xperia Arc in the looks department. It’s a modish-looking bit of kit by anyone’s reckoning. And at 175g, it’s light too. Points are deducted slightly for a somewhat plasticky feel, however. And if you prefer a phone that’s weighty to hold, this might not be for you.
Fire up the phone, though, and you’ll forget that quicksmart when you glimpse of the 4.3-inch LED screen that incorporates the same Bravia technology as Sony’s high-end TVs. It’s simply stunning and easily gives the Super AMOLED-sporting Samsung Galaxy S 2 a run for its money in the display stakes. And could even be the best screen on an Android smartphone so far.
As its name suggests, the Arc features a convex design that instantly marks it out from its rivals and at its thinnest point is a super slim 8.7mm. Rounding things off is the shiny chrome plating around its side, which combines with the expansive screen to make the Arc a very beautiful bit of kit indeed.
Where some rival phone makers appear to have thrown in the towel in the megapixel wars, Sony Ericsson is still very much still in the fight. At the heart of the Arc is an 8.1-megapixel camera that features an Exmor R CMOS sensor that also sits pretty in the new crop of Sony compact snappers and an LED photo light. As a result, the Arc takes snaps of exceptional quality and performed well in low light conditions too.
It also records 720p HD video, which looks pretty terrific on the screen (did we mention we like the screen?) and can be viewed on your TV via the Arc’s HDMI slot.
Elsewhere, the feature set is largely as you’d expect from this year’s crop of top-end smarties (think expandable memory of up to 32GB, digital compass, barcode scanner and NFC support).
Sony Ericsson hasn’t had the greatest reputation among Android phone makers in the past. That’s mostly due to its sluggishness in updating the initial range of Xperia phones, which left owners stuck on the 1.6 version of Android while all around them everyone else was getting a taste of the then-cutting-edge Froyo iteration.
However, after a Facebook campaign and much grousing from customers, Sony Ericsson has gone all out to avoid a repeat of that PR debacle. For that reason, the Arc rocks the up to the minute 2.3.3 version of Android, AKA Gingerbread.
If you’ve got a Froyo phone, it’s not massively different to what you’re used to. But it does add an all-new, more responsive touchscreen keyboard as well as improved copy and paste. More importantly, though, Gingerbread contains a slew of performance optimisations. And coupled with the 1GHz processor, it gives the Arc a feel of real zip.
Naturally as this is an Android phone, you get a massive array of apps to choose from. And because its runs the 2.3.3 version, you’ll also be able to get on board with various titles in Sony’s PSP and PSOne library via the PlayStation Suite download service.
Ease of use
The vast screen real estate, plenty of five customisable screens to fill with widgets and apps and responsive TFT tech that the Arc offers makes navigating through menus really easy. More importantly, Sony Ericsson has revamped its justifiably maligned Android custom skin and streamlined social networking, messaging updates and multimedia updates in a single Timescape stream, which keeps the interface clutter free so they’re much simpler to keep on top of.
- Android 2.3 Gingerbread
- 4.2-inch, 480 x 854 pixels touchscreen
- Eight Megapixel camera
- MicroSD support up to 32GB
- 1GHz Snapdragon processor
- 720p@30fps HD video recording
Find out more about the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc here