Xperia Arc

It’s no secret that Sony Ericsson had a bit of a rocky start with its first generation of Android phones. Its 2010 Xperia models have been criticized for shipping with an outdated version of Android, as well as lacking some basic functionality like multitouch out of the box.

Fortunately, it looks like the manufacturer has fully overcome these teething problems with the release of its flagship phone for 2011, the Xperia Arc. The Arc is a device which compares well to similar offerings from other manufacturers, and brings to the table some outstanding multimedia features, including a very high-quality camera.

Read on to find out our initial thoughts after our first few days with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, along with video footage of the device in action.

The Arc is a deceptively large phone. With its 4.2-inch screen, it’s certainly towards the upper end of the smartphone size spectrum. However, despite this it’s extremely lightweight, and its sleek, curved back give it a slim profile, while helping it sit easily in the hand. It’s a big phone that doesn’t feel like a big phone.

The Arc’s chassis is mostly black plastic, which means it doesn’t feel quite as solid as other aluminum-based devices, and also results in the phone becoming something of a magnet for fingerprints and smudges. However, this makes the Arc much lighter, and is a trade-off we’re happy to make if it gives us a 4.2-inch phone that weighs just over four ounces.

 Sony Ericsson has opted to stick with physical buttons in the Xperia Arc, rather than the increasingly popular capacitive keys seen on more and more current Android phones. While the lack of a dedicated search key is a minor niggle, the remaining three buttons work well, and don’t require much force to use. There’s also a dedicated camera button on the right side of the phone, which is great to see, given that the Arc’s 8-megapixel camera is one of the phone’s major features.

 Xperia Arc Xperia Arc

Another notable addition is the Arc’s HDMI port, which is located on the top of the device, next to the power button. Used with the bundled HDMI cable, this allows easy TV connectivity -- simply plug the phone in, and it outputs a 720p signal to your TV, and helpfully locks your apps in landscape mode.

Inside the Arc you’ll find the standard 1GHz second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and 512MB of RAM. So, certainly fast enough for a smooth Android experience. There’s also 512MB of internal storage, of which 380MB is available for apps. This is definitely a little on the low side considering many manufacturers are shipping handsets with 1GB or more, however the ability to move apps to the SD card means this isn’t as big a deal as it might’ve been in the past.

The Arc is almost up-to-date with the latest version of Android right out of the box. It’s running Gingerbread -- Android 2.3.2 Gingerbread to be precise. So, not quite the latest version of Android, but it’s still Gingerbread, and it still includes the all-important SMS fix that arrived in 2.2.2 and 2.3.2.

 Xperia Arc Xperia Arc 

On top of Android you’ll find Sony Ericsson’s custom UI. This is a sleek and unobtrusive interface that matches the aesthetics of the phone’s physical design. It’s also nice and fast -- sure, there’s eye candy to be had, but not at the expense of performance. We were particularly impressed with the speed of the launcher and TimeScape app compared to earlier Xperia phones.

Many of the stock apps are only lightly skinned too, which will please users looking for a more “pure” Android experience. The browser is pretty much the stock Gingerbread browser, and the same goes for the calendar, gallery, dialer and messaging apps too.

Sony has packed some extremely impressive camera capabilities into the Arc’s slim chassis. The phone takes stills at up to 8 megapixels in 4:3 orientation, or 6 megapixels in 16:9 orientation. Photos look great, and the camera app offers some advanced features for more experienced users to tweak away, along with simpler options like image stabilization. The Arc records video at up to 720p too, and at that resolution you’ll get a flawless 30 frames per second, even in low light thanks to Sony’s Exmor R camera technology. As previously mentioned, there's a dedicated physical camera button on the side of the phone, though there’s also the option to tap the screen to take pictures.

 Xperia Arc Xperia Arc

After playing around with the Arc’s camera, we were confident enough in its abilities that we used it to capture all of our photo and video content at the recent HTC Roadshow. You can see the results here.

The Xperia Arc combines some great aesthetics with a speedy software experience, great multimedia connectivity and an excellent camera. We’re looking forward to spending some more time with Sony Ericsson’s latest handset, and we’ll have a full review up soon, so keep watching. In the meantime, enjoy the photos below, and be sure to check out our hands-on video if you haven’t already.

 Xperia Arc Xperia Arc

Xperia Arc The competition...

 

Reader comments

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc initial review and hands-on redux

23 Comments

yup, I have the bootloder unlocked and rooted on my SE ARC the next day I bought the unit.
Now just wait for any custom rom for the flash job :)

Until they decide a year or two from now it's no longer in their interest, close up the things they "opened" and sic their lawyers on those who dare try to retain the feature they were promised and paid for. Just like they are doing with the Playstation and the "other OS" feature they decided wasn't in their interest.

so sony shuts down psn, because they want to stop people from pirating stuff on their network...and that makes them a bad company?

So if someone starts crashing cars, GM and ford can come take the steering wheel from the car I paid for?

Sony sold those Playstations to people with that feature, many people bought the PS just to run Linux. If they can't keep their products and networks running properly then it's their fault. They should go after the people breaking the law, not those trying to use they equipment they bought as the equipment was originally announced and advertised.

And I don't hate Sony, I just got a fancy new Vaio. But on the issue of "openness" they simply fail and fail hard.

I don't support Anons actions either, but Sony did bring this on themselves.

I had to create an account to comment specifically to you.

You have to stop this lying about Sony just suing people over "hacking" systems. The "other OS" was never advertised anywhere so Sony did not promise a thing to anyone get your facts straight. It was all a pleasant surprise for owners of a PlayStation that Sony could not keep up with hence its removal.

Second, the reason GeoHot (the hacker) was being sued was because he was threatening Sony by screwing with their systems. GeoHot and fail0verflo then decided to be smart and release a hack on the internet for free to everyone that allowed homebrew and security hack that allowed things like pirated games to be played and many other things that would break any major company.

I have no problem with homebrew but to threaten a major company and expect to get away with it? thats stupid. everyone is getting all hot because they lost a feature that was never originally advertised, not that they were homebrewing a personal console for personal use.

Other than that does anyone have any time with this phone in the U.S. on tmobile to att? I'm curious as to how well it runs. I want to pick this phone up but for $600 I want to make sure I don't run into a major problem :P

They had OtherOS for other people to use the PS3 as a utility or a supercomputer like the government is doing. But some people were using the feature to due more then homebrew and running linux. People started to hack profile, pirate games, mess with things they shouldn't mess with. Thats why Sony took away the feature. Have you seen what happen to the PSP its basically dead just full of hackers ruining the experience as a whole. Online gameplay is like joining a PC game full of aimbots and infinite life. And Sony doesn't want that to happen with PS3. Android phone aren't such a huge risk of getting piracy especially if the app is coded securely and trust me i've checked. So before you go saying eff Sony and being pro-anon get look at the PSP and see how bad it is. Having the abilty just to use OtherOS is not worth having if the gaming on the PS3 itself ruined.

That's fine for you to think. But People paid for their playstations with a specific feature set. Because some people abuse a feature, does that give Sony the right to remove that feature from the Playstations of people who bought them and aren't abusing that feature?

I'm not normally a big Sony fan after a couple of sour experiences. But I must admit, the overall look in the video appears like a refined product. Everything seems so smooth and fluid--something HTC still needs to get.

Yes agreed :)

I love Sony Products. They make the most attractive devices, I believe. I just hope they can get to HTC level of hardware/software integration

I was thinking the same thing.

First of all, Alex did a great job on the review. That was the first time I had a reviewer show multi viewing angles of the screen.

Second, I'm not getting rid of my Evo anytime soon, but this Arc is probably the most attractive phone I have ever seen. The design engineers deserve a pat on the back.

Got min a week ago. Really dispointing because full of bugs.
There is not a single day where the phone does not reboot at least 4 or 5 times a day!!!!

The screen is really nice though.

They can't sue you for hacking a phone... Let the conspiracies go wow. And back on topic this phone is simply sexy. VZW please.

I got the x10 through Orange UK so I've lived through the pain but I would say that this phone has many things I want from a phone.

The camera works in bad light conditions, the video quality is good and the design is bold enough not to look like a iPhone clone.

That said it's hardware spec isn't in line with a 2011 flagship phone and something tells me there will be something missing that was over looked or purposely removed to cut down on costs.

Hats of to them for the Gingerbread release.
Any bets on there being an Nexus Xerpia some time this year?