MOBILE MAY: Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

8 May 2011’s John Kennedy reviews the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc with Android OS.

Out of all the smartphones that have embraced the Android OS, the Xperia Arc is perhaps the most beautiful in appearance with its deep black veneer and aquiline shape.

Compared to its close relation, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, which doubles as a game console, the Arc lacks the heft and has a grace and refinement that few smartphone makers have managed to achieve so far.

With its sleek finish and ultra light body, the 4.2-inch screen when you show videos or take pictures gives you the feeling that the image floats in the air. It weighs only 4.1 oz yet packs a significant amount of fire power, including a 3G and Wi-Fi radio, 1GB of internal phone storage, 512MB of RAM, as well as a microSD slot up to 32GB.

The device comes with Google’s Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system and integrates beautifully with the web and multimedia apps, such as music, games and video.

The screen quality is the winning factor here. Using the Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine – a close relation of the HD TV family – images are possibly more vivid on this device than many I’ve seen lately.

The 4.2-inch 854 x 480 pixel screen is a 16.7m colour TFT HD screen.

The phone comes with Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor that allows users to capture high quality stills and high quality movies in a low light and users can connect their phone to their HD TV via a HDMI lead and play back in 1,080p high definition. Quite extraordinary for a device that fits in the palm of your hand.

When you first switch on the device you have the option of connecting to all your various social activities from Twitter and Facebook to Gmail and other services, and the Xperia Arc has a nifty feature on the home screen that gathers all your tweets and status updates in one single stream that you can flick through with your finger.

One of the endearing features of any Gingerbread device is the ability to organise all your favourite Android apps in specially illustrated folders that suit your tastes, from music to social and games.

The camera on the device was top notch and features such capabilities as video stabiliser, image stabiliser, geo-tagging, face detection and more.

As an entertainment device, downloads from the Android Market were swift and apps like YouTube and radio came in very handy on the device.

The screen was extremely responsive to pinching to zoom, etc, and expanding photos and web pages.

In terms of who the Xperia Arc is aimed at, the device – which as well as black comes in midnight blue and misty silver – would appeal the serious and hard-working executive by day, but life and soul of the party player by night. Quintessentially, it’s a device that wouldn’t look out of place at a board meeting or in a nightclub. It’s smooth, sleek and glam at the same time.

My niggles however, came down to synching up with contacts and Gmail. The experience on that front was not quite as elegant and simple as it should have been and instead of it integrating instantaneously within minutes of turning on the smartphone, I was still trying to get it right days later.

All in all, however, the Xperia Arc boasts the most elegant design I have seen on an Android smartphone to date.

You could win the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc. Enter the competition here.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years