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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc review

Can Android 2.3 and a super-slim new body salvage Sony Ericsson's Android ambitions?

Our Verdict

The best phone of 2011 so far, and it's not even dual core. Sony Ericsson has finally created the standout smartphone it's been after for so many years.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 1 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8.1 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 6.90 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 480 x 854

View full specification

For

  • Astonishingly thin body
  • Attractive user interface tweaks
  • Nice customisable floating dock
  • Single-core processor handles most tasks well
  • Decent battery life
  • Stunning screen

Against

  • Small, fiddly power and volume buttons
  • Timescape widget is rather ugly
  • Text entry system is a bit last generation
  • Only five home screens

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc review: Interface

Android 2.3 has been lightly skinned on Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, with animated icons, large media widgets and a clever folder-creation system added to the mobile OS. It's pretty, and it's easy to use.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

The 4.2-inch touchscreen supports multi-touch input, and Sony Ericsson illustrates this by letting you spin the Home screen out into an overview mode with a two-fingered zoom motion. There are only five Home screens included here, for some odd reason, so you're unlikely to ever get so lost you need this satellite view.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

The screen is very sensitive to the touch, while the 1GHz single-core processor does a fine job of pushing menu pages about, scrolling Home screens and populating lists of apps without trouble.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

Sony Ericsson has again included its Timescape social aggregator on the Xperia Arc, with the animating widget letting users pull in their text messages, Twitter feeds and Facebook nonsense into one combined space.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

It is a clever but rather pointless feature, to be honest, providing a disjointed experience. Clicking on a tweet or Facebook status update takes you to the mobile websites of the services rather than opening any app you may use.

So when you see a web link in a tweet and click on it, it opens up the Twitter mobile site rather than the actual link. Which feels like rather a waste of time and a step back from using one of the many excellent Twitter apps available for Android.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

Still, it's a fancy way of organising your text messages, with the app also giving your missed calls a whole page to themselves. But the way it blows up Twitter and Facebook icons to fill the background creates a rather ugly widget. Which means Timescape is best removed, sadly, and replaced by individual apps for each service.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

Also, Sony Ericsson has stuffed another one of its five Home screens with a gallery widget, music widget and media shortcut bar. These widgets are useful, but having three on the screen pulling in data and photos can result in the occasional glitch when paging through your Home screens as the phone struggles to fill all these content-rich windows.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

What is very nice is the customisable floating dock. Along the bottom of the screen sits four icons, and, as with the icons on the Home screen, you're able to long-press on these and put your own favourite apps or links in this dock.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

The one dock icon you can't change is the central icon, which opens up the app drawer. This can be edited, too, with Sony Ericsson letting users sort their app collections manually, by alphabetical order or most used.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

The drag-down notifications bar is a little under-stocked compared to its Android brethren – even the HTC Desire S has joined the Samsung Galaxy S2 and INQ Cloud Touch in offering easy access to turning on and off Wi-Fi or GPS from anywhere in the phone.

One clever new little touch (for Android – iPhone 4 users will find this familiar) is the ability to create folders to group your apps together on the fly. Simply dragging one Home screen icon onto another brings up a prompt to name a folder – and the system then dumps the two icons into your new storage space. Nice.

Sony ericsson xperia arc review

Folder use in general is good, with a very pretty little annotated window popping up when you open one. Getting things into folders is a bit tough on Android, though. How do you get a photo from the Gallery to a folder on the Home screen, for example?

It doesn't seem possible, which limits the use of folders to grouping icons and freeing up space on your Home screen – but then again, that hasn't stopped it being a popular feature on the iPhone.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory1 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
SAR Value0.66 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyXPERIA
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Rear Camera Resolution8.1 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourMidnight Blue
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSony Mobile
Battery Talk Time6.90 Hour
Product ModelArc
Screen Size10.7 cm (4.2")
Screen Resolution480 x 854
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)117 g
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR, REACH, RoHS, WEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log, Call Forwarding, Call Divert, Conference Call, Fixed Dialing
RecycledYes
Recycled Content25%
Height125 mm
Width63 mm
Depth8.7 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NameXPERIA Arc Smartphone
Processor Speed1 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Product LineXPERIA
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeDigital Compass, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number1246-9197
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Your life in vivid colours. Videos and stills. Show it all off on the sharp, crisp and clear 4,2' multi-touch Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine. Share, like and comment with Facebook inside Xperia. The Xperia arc Android touch phone - designed to be daring.

Android touch phone with super-screen

View pics and video in vivid colours with your Android touch phone. Crisp and clear on the 4.2" Reality display with Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine.

The sleek, super-slim Xperia arc

Start with premium materials. Stir in a beautiful curve. Squeeze down to 8.7 mm. And there it is, a perfect palm fit: the slim, lightweight and strong Xperia arc.

Limited Warranty2 Year