I’ve had the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc a few weeks now, and naturally, as soon as I’ve finally made up my mind about the handset they go and release news about a NEW one (The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S), which renders my review slightly dated, though still pretty relevant. In my industry it’s common to change your phone every week, but we tend to forget that most people are tied into 18-24 month contracts so they have longer to play with their handset than us. I’ve had a few weeks going hands on with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and here are my thoughts.
Touted as the fashion phone, the slimline contours of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc certainly fulfill this promise. The design is superslim and incredibly lightweight with a large 4.2 inch screen that’s attractive and easy to navigate. I’m used to the Xperia interface having previously owned the X10 Mini, and this definitely feels like the bigger better brother, faster, more fun and way easier to navigate. The three navigation button menu is easy to decipher, allowing you to go straight to the home menu, back up a step and bring up multiple screens.
The Arc features a 3.5mm headphone jack, a HDMI output and a lock key on top of the screen. There’s also a volume adjuster rocker at the side and it has a 4.2 inch capacitive screen. It is very shiny, which also makes it a fingerprint dust bunny, but once you turn it on the colours are so vibrant that marks fade away. Scratch resistant mineral glass covers the front and despite multiple knocks in my bag (and an aggressive keychain) remains scratch free. It has an internal memory of 512MB and comes with an 8GB micro SD card, though you can fit it with a 32GB one. It runs on Android, and the area that particularly impressed was the 1GHz Qualcomm processor which makes the phone run really quickly, and you’re able to load up multiple programmes and flick through different apps with ease.
The camera is touted as one of the biggest selling points of the Xperia Arc, and I won’t lie- it does take rather lovely images. It has 8.1 megapixels and you can play around with the quality till you’re hapy, altering the light, and switching it from auto to macro etc. They’re very proud of the larger aperture- 2.4, which means you get greater light definition and it’s easier to shoot in low light conditions. The back-illuminated CMOS sensor also adds to this, being far more sensitive than a conventional front end CMOS sensor and images look great in all light conditions. Just take in some of my snaps and see what I mean;
High light intensity
The Auto mode is effective at recognizing landscape, portrait and macro images and the focus is quick and efficient. However- and this is a pretty big but- the actual act of taking pictures is HORRIBLE. The camera button is placed on the side of the slimline phone and is really tough to press, so by the time you have your shot and have managed to hold it down long enough to activate the focus has often been lost. You also can’t easily take self portraits due to the horrible shutter button and the effort to take images on this phone had me resorting to my everyday camera which was a shame. There’s a touch capture mode which is even worse to use- as by the time it releases you have a totally different picture than planned. If Sony Ericsson can make the button more sensitive, allow you to snap easily from within the touchscreen and change where it’s positioned that would make a major difference to usability.
The mobile can be set up to work with Twitter, Facebook and email services and this is both a blessing and a curse. I love having my Facebook events integrated with my Gmail calendar, but I’m less enthused about 1000′s of email contacts appearing in my address book, that need some serious editing to minimize. I also dislike Facebook’s all or nothing opt in policy for third party applications, but I can’t really blame Sony Ericsson for that. In some respects the syncing and photo sharing is great, but if you’re adding a busy account be prepared for some time tidying your contacts all up.
Navigation and Market
The Android marketplace is an impressive beast nowadays, almost rivalling that of the iPhone and it beautifully displays on this phone. It’s easy to navigate and the variety of apps make it a joy to play with. Using the multiple screen feels very intuitive and you can also group your apps into boxes like you do on the iPhone. The Timescape overlay neatly displays you most recent messages and tweets in an easy to scroll through graphic- which you can delete if you dislike! I personally quite liked it, but it’s always good not to feel tied into a style.
Overall Thoughts on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
I was pleasantly surprised by this phone. It looked good and felt nice to hold, with the slight curvature of the back making it rest easily in the palm. Colours were beautifully bright and distinct on the phone and it was well laid out. Apps and programmes loaded fast, and I was pleased that two lock options were included- an auto lock time out after a few minutes and a temporary holding lock button on top of the phone. The syncing calendar option was useful, though it would have been helpful to opt out on some of the contact sharing and the camera was a little frustrating to operate because of a annoyingly placed shutter button. Despite this, the images produced were of high quality and I liked that you could shoot hi def video. If you’re looking for a slick smartphone which is easy to handle this is a great choice, just don’t expect to take any pictures in a hurry.