When the chance to review the brand new Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S arose, I was quick to jump at it seeing as though I loved the original Xperia Arc perhaps a little too much. What I’ve found with the Xperia Arc S is that Sony Ericsson have kind of just added in a few little features that should have been in the original Xperia Arc since day one.
- Very snappy / responsive
- Slim, attractive device
- Good looking UI
- Washed out display
- Awkwardly placed power button
- Not that much better than the Xperia Arc
- No front-facing camera
What we’re basically looking at here is the original Xperia Arc with a handful of hardware and software updates added to it that really should have been in the Xperia Arc since day one. There’s now a 1.4GHz Single-Core CPU, 14.4Mbit HSPA, better video stabilisation, and a new 3D panorama sweep feature which apparently works without 2 cameras.
The device is the same size as the Xperia Arc at 125 x 63 x 8.7mm — it’s quite thin at the thinnest point where it curves at the rear. The screen is 4.2-inches diagonally at a resolution of 854×480, which presents you with a aspect ratio of 16:9, that being perfect to consume media. The display is almost unnoticeable thanks to the dark tinted glass atop of it. The display sits right under the glass which stops the sun from reflecting onto the display which in turn makes it easy to view in direct sunlight. The display does seem washed out compared to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S II, however, it is much better than the piece of crud on the HTC EVO 3D. It’s also much brighter than the EVO 3D and Galaxy S II.
Sony Ericsson are sticking with the use of hardware buttons with 3 under the screen: back, home & menu; there’s also a small dedicated camera shutter button and volume rocker on the right-hand edge of the Xperia Arc S, both of which are too small and fidgety for my liking. The small camera button makes the phone shake when you try to press it down. The left-hand edge of the Xperia Arc S is the 3.5mm headphone jack. The awkwardly small and flush-to-the-surface power button, and micro-HDMI port are both at the top. A lanyard holder and microphone are at the bottom. On the back you’ll find the 8MP camera along with its LED flash and secondary noise-cancellation microphone.
The CPU in the Xperia Arc S is a modified version of the Qualcomm MSM8225 found in the Xperia Arc. It has bene overclocked from 1GHz to 1.4GHz to give the Xperia Arc S a faster more fluid feel and it’s certainly noticeable when playing games and browsing the interwebz.
The GPU is the exact same Adreno 205 found in the Xperia Arc.
Sony Ericsson pride themselves on selling multimedia devices. The idea behind the Xperia Arc S is to show off their camera hardware and software. They’ve added a 3D panorama sweep function which can only be viewed on a compatible 3D television using the micro-HDMI port. As I do not own a 3D television because I think they’re a waste of money, I was unable to test how well it worked — if you’re desperate to see this functionality, check out this video.
The camera itself is on par with some of the best cameras on Android devices at the moment, such as the HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II. So there’s really no problems in regards to image quality. A downside to the Xperia Arc S is that there’s no front-facing camera, I’m not too sure how such a simple feature can be left out.
Video recording is capped at 720p @ 30FPS with continuous autofocus and stabilisation, a nice place to be capped if you ask me. You can view some of the videos we recorded below.
Although the battery in the Xperia Arc S is the same 1500mAh slab of Lithium-Polymer as the original Xperia Arc, it did seem to get the same life span — pretty impressive seeing as though it has a faster clocked single-core CPU. We would like to see Sony Ericsson surpass the 1500mAh, though.
I’m still not sure why we mention this in phone reviews nowadays. The Xperia Arc S can indeed make phone calls and quite well thanks to its dedicated noise-cancelling microphone on the rear of the device. The device we reviewed ran on 900/2100MHz and considering I use Telstra, data use wasn’t the nicest experience.
Sony Ericsson are very particular when it comes to their user interface. It’s definitely the most polished and cohesive of all the manufacturer Android skins, leaving TouchWiz for dead. It’s also incredibly fluid and responsive, leaving Sense UI for dead.
There’s an option to change the overall colour scheme for the Xperia Arc S — the default is blue but you can have green, red, pink and more. I’m a fan of Sony Ericsson’s UI, because it just works, looks good, and doesn’t slow the device down. If you’re going to tear Android’s vanilla look to shreds, you’re going to have to do a good job to ensure every part of the software is cohesive, and this baby is.
The device we reviewed ran Android 2.3.4 and Sony Ericsson have confirmed that the current range of Xperia devices will be updated to Ice Cream Sandwich in the future — I’m guessing first-half of 2012.
|Quadrant (Higher = better)
|Galaxy S II
|Xperia Arc S
What Sony Ericsson seems to have done with the Xperia Arc S is add features they’re probably going to put in future phones into the body of the original Xperia Arc. I liked this device as much as I liked the Xperia Arc, and see no point in buying the Xperia Arc when this device is about $50 more and has the slightly better specifications.
I’d certainly like to see Sony Ericsson work on their physical buttons to make them more accessible, as well as their displays to make them look less washed out in comparison to awesome displays like the Galaxy S / Galaxy S II.
Given the price of $499, I recommend this phone for people wanting a cheaper Android device that has very high-end features. The camera is extremely good, the device looks good and it’s super fast.
tl;dr It’s the Xperia Arc with a faster CPU.