Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc Review

For the past few days, I have been using Sony Ericsson’s new media phone, the Xperia Arc. I have been thoroughly testing the device to find its limits and fortes and have a lot to report.

First, here is a basic overview of my experience with the Xperia Arc.


  • Very speedy and utilises its hardware very well.
  • Camera is good at taking HQ pictures in low-light conditions.
  • Battery is capable of long periods of media playback.
  • HDMI Output.
  • Sufficient internal storage and the capacity for expansion.


  • Display is scratch-prone.
  • Slow processor for the price.
  • Unbalanced design based on aesthetics not practicality.
  • Hard buttons are difficult to use – power button becomes sticky.


I’ll start with the hardware of the device; the first thing you notice when you use the Arc is its massive screen; 4.2 inch with Bravia technology that allows it to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S II. The screen has excellent contrasting colours and is very sharp with 854 pixels up and 480 across, but does not have Gorilla Glass so is more prone to scratches.

Specifications: 854×480 pixels / 4.2″ 16,777,216 colour TFT.


Sony Ericsson is marketing the device as an ultimate media viewer and recorder. The device boasts an 8.1 Megapixel camera with f/2.4 aperture offering fantastic low-light shots. It has a 2.46x digital zoom, but can only take well-focused photos after zooming approximately half that. It has all of the standard Android features and other more advanced ones such as Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor to enhance all images taken – this works very well in producing better pictures with no hardware changes. I found it strange that the device did not have a front-facing camera, but have been informed by a representative of Sony Ericsson that a front-facing camera could not be incorporated into the design because it would make the device less attractive and thicker.

Below are some unedited photos taken directly from the Arc’s camera.

Specifications: 8.1 megapixel camera, up to 2.46x smart zoom, aperture f/2.4, auto focus, flash/LED, image stabilizer, Sony Exmor R™ for mobile CMOS sensor, 720p Video recording.


That’s the visible hardware of the device covered; let’s get on to the internals. The phone is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which allows the device to run very smoothly. It is worth noting that the processors of other devices on the market of a similar price are up to 50 percent faster so this isn’t the ultimate for speed, but it is adequate for the device. The processor, although it runs at the same speed as slower devices, allows the Arc to power through even the most memory-intensive of tasks with ease. It just works.

Specifications: 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 processor (paired with an Adreno 205 graphics chip).


The device has a total of 1GB internal storage and 512MB of RAM which is plenty for the device to multitask in the Android style. If that huge amount of storage isn’t enough, you can always expand it with support for up to a 32GB Micro SD card and with Apps2SD it is easy to install hundreds of apps.

Specifications:  1GB (up to 320MB free) internal storage, 512MB RAM, support for microSD™ (up to 32GB).


As a media and entertainment device, the Xperia has very good battery life. The 1500mAh battery charges fully within a few hours and has more than enough juice to power the device for a whole day with background syncing and services. It is very good at coping with the strains of media playback over long periods of time. Sony Ericsson state it is possible to get 7 hours of talk time out of the device – it is fully capable of all normal Android users’ needs.

Specifications: Standard 1500mAh Li-Po Battery


The Xperia Arc is very useful when it comes to connectivity. The device has a 3.5mm headphone jack on its left side, a HDMI output slot on the top and a standard Micro USB slot on the right. This allows you to connect and synchronise to many devices and mirror video to larger displays with ease. Of course, it also sports Bluetooth capabilities along with WiFi. Depending on the carrier, the device may also support the ability to be used to tether other devices via WiFi and share its mobile connectivity.

Specifications: 3.5 mm audio jack, aGPS, Bluetooth™ technology, HDMI, modem, DLNA, USB mass storage, Wi-Fi™.


When compared to the HTC Desire.

Now that we’ve covered all of the functional details of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, let’s get on to the gorgeous design. The Arc is incredibly thin and curvy. The sleek design of the body is very comfortable to hold and makes talking during a phone call easy. Because the device is slimmer in the middle than the top and bottom, it can feel unbalanced, particularly when typing in portrait. There is a large amount of externally free space on the top of the device, but the buttons on the bottom seem to have been crushed into the available space making them hard to press and the device difficult to hold. However, it is impossible to describe the device without saying it is sexy.

Specifications: 125.0 × 63.0 × 8.7 mm (at thinnest points).


So, that’s what’s packed inside this well-equipped device. When each of these pieces are put together, they allow the device to run quickly and efficiently and fulfil the needs of the average user. It is a very enjoyable device to use and is perfect for those who always need a camera at hand in case of a photo opportunity. It is a media device and handles all media very well – I would certainly recommend it.

For Power Users…

As I said, this device is more than what any average user could need, but for you power users; you know that a device’s battery life can easily be enhanced by installing a custom ROM, and overclocking the CPU will certainly enhance the performance. While I have not done any of this, I believe the device is suited knowledgeable users interested in gaining complete control and customisation on their device.


Anyway, what’s a good device without a good operating system and software? I will have a full overview and review of the software included in the Xperia Arc, including all of Sony Ericsson’s stylish customisations to the Android platform, in an article tomorrow so stay tuned!

© Graham Macphee 2011

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