Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc review

Slim Android smartphone with a range of high-end features.
Photo of Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
£412 , SIM-free. Free on contract.

Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc is a nice addition to the company’s Xperia line, with some top-line features and none of the arguable gimmickry of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play.

Top notch, chaps
The features crammed into the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc are a high-end set, and right at the forefront is Android 2.3. Still relatively rare in smartphones, its presence is on its own enough to make us happy. But there’s more here than simply the latest version of Google’s Android mobile operating system.

An 8-megapixel camera sits on the back of the chassis, and that’s as good as it gets currently as far as smartphones are concerned. There is HDMI, which means you can send any HD video you shoot or photos you take to an external device such as a big television with an HDMI port. Unlike other smartphone makers, Sony Ericsson kindly provides the appropriate cable.

Nice design, too
The Xperia Arc’s physical design is nice too, with a very thin, tall profile that is a bit large for some hands but which looks stunning. The handset is just 8.7mm thick at its thinnest point, in the centre, with a very slight outward curve top and bottom.

The 4.2in screen delivers 854×480 clear, sharp and bright pixels. Underneath it is a row of three buttons for Android Home, Back and Menu functions, which push the Arc’s other measurements up to a considerably more sizeable 125x63mm. It is very light, though, at 117g.

Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine gives video a particularly sharp and clear appearance, though there were occasions when, despite the 1GHz processor, we noticed some video stutter from web pages. This could have been caused by a problem with our Wi-Fi connection, of course, rather than anything to do with the Xperia Arc. There is an annoyance with the physical design in that the microSD card can’t be removed without first removing the battery. That will irritate people who like hotswapping memory cards.

Skinned Android
Inevitably, Sony Ericsson has added a ‘skin’ to the Android interface, but the look is a familiar one. There are five home screens, and Sony Ericsson includes among the widgets its own Timescape, which brings together Facebook and Twitter data. We aren’t huge fans of Timescape, but it’s easily ignored, and there are alternative Facebook and Twitter apps in the Android Market.

We do love the way the music player goes online to find information about whatever tune you are currently playing, including YouTube videos. This is now a stock feature of higher-end Android handsets, and we really enjoy using it.

Company: Sony Ericsson

Website: http://www.clove.co.uk

Contact: 01202 552936

Positives
  • Great screen; 8-megapixel camera; HDMI out with cable provided
Negative
  • Large and maybe unwieldy for those with smaller hands

Verdict

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc combines good specifications with a strong physical design, and the smooth lines and thinness of the Arc really appeal.