Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S smartphone review

Super-stylish high-end Android 2.3 handset at a keen price
Photo of Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S smartphone
£300 , SIM-free; free on Vodafone contract

Sony Ericsson is resurrecting itself from a period in the doldrums with some rather nice handsets, and the Xperia Arc S is a case in point. It’s a really good-looking phone with a large screen and plenty of power. And, as high end handsets go, its price is attractive too.

Core spec
From the very start, the Xperia Arc S looks like a phone that means business. A quick glance at the specifications reveal that it has a 1.4GHz processor that should absolutely fly along – and we found this held true in everyday use.

The screen is giant sized at 4.2in, and it delivers at 854×480 pixels. It features the Mobile BRAVIA engine that really does make it one of the sharpest, most crisp and clear smartphone displays around.

All this makes the Arc S superb for looking at video, web browsing and typing. In fact, using the Qwerty keyboard to type out email, SMS messages and documents was one of the most comfortable smartphone text entry experiences we’ve had. 

Design
While some smartphones can appear a little chunky, Sony Ericsson has worked hard to make the Xperia Arc S looks and feel special. It does have a rather tall profile at 125x63mm, but it’s incredibly thin at just 8.7mm. Smaller hands will struggle to reach right across the screen for one-handed use, but that’s always the case with larger phones.

There’s a very gentle arc in the backplate which is accentuated by the shaping of a silver band along the long edges. The combination of optical illusion and real shaping work well together for a distinctive overall effect.

Sharp shooter
The 8-megapixel camera takes some great photos, and you can shoot 720p video too. The side button is a plus point, as is the mini-HDMI connector – and better still, unlike many other manufacturers, Sony Ericsson provides a suitable cable, enabling you to hook the phone up to a large display.

One notable omission, though, is that of a front facing camera. We’d also maybe have liked to see a dual LED flash instead of the single one that’s present. The ability to shoot faux-3D images that are viewable on a compatible TV feels like a gimmick to us.

Sony Ericsson’s overlay for Android 2.3.4 includes its Timescape social networking app – this is slowly growing on us as it gets more features, and you can get quite a few plugins from the Android Market including for Gmail, LinkedIn and Foursquare.

There’s a lot more to the overlay though and plenty to play with. We also particularly like the internet links in the music player which will find lyrics, YouTube video, Wikipedia entries and more.

There is a criticism to be levelled at the amount of internal memory – just 1GB in total and up to 320MB free according to Sony Ericsson, 287MB on our review handset out of the box. You’ll need to shift applications to a microSD card, and an 8GB one was provided with our handset.

Company: Sony Ericsson

Website: http://shop.vodafone.co.uk/shop/mobile-phone/sony-ericsson-xperia-arc-s

Contact: Vodafone on 08080 408 408

Positives
  • Attractive price; fast processor; great screen.
Negative
  • No Flash support in browser; short on internal memory.

Verdict

Sony Ericsson has done a good job with Xperia Arc S. You get an awful lot of capability for the price, and the screen, good camera and fast processor are highlights among many positive features. This is a very strong handset indeed.