Sony Ericsson Xperia arc Preview
The typical Sony Ericsson Android skin is called UX (from User eXperience), and includes the Timescape and Mediascape elements, which we have reviewed before. This heavily customized skin was rumored to cause all kinds of troubles when the time to update the company's Android phones to the next version came. As a result, the Xperia line was stuck for a long time in 2009, and is unlikely to receive any official updates to Froyo now.
With the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc the company said on its official Product Blog that it has changed the way it interacts with Android, simplified the UI by only including the Timescape element, and mentioned the updates will now be swifter because of these changes. The feature that has gone away is Mediascape, although it is present in a stripped down version called simply Media, which according to Sony Ericsson is a “customizable widget based media pane”, but looks more of a glorified shortcut to us now, than anything else.
Not that Sony Ericsson will need to update its arching handset soon, considering it will be one of the first phones out there running Android Gingerbread, but it's nice to hear we might be covered this time. Gingerbread doesn't bring many visible changes to the interface, most of the changelog is under the hood, but still, the ability to copy/paste or move the cursor with the large handles now, as well as the improved multitasking and process management, are welcome additions.
Moreover, the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc has the same second generation MSM8255 Snapdragon chipset that is in the HTC Desire HD, and the T-Mobile myTouch 4G. It carries the powerful Adreno 205 graphics chip, and on the Quadrant benchmark test we consistently scored 1500+ points, which makes it one of the fastest stock handsets this side of dual-core. When the unit is final, the performance will probably be improved even further, but for now we didn't experience lag or scrolling stutter, despite the prototype nature of our Sony Ericsson Xperia arc. The only chipset-related gripe is the 287MB ROM for installing apps, but ever since Froyo you can install apps on the memory card, so it is not really an issue; moreover, the handset still has 512MB RAM, which is the norm for high-end handsets now.
There were some blank spaces at the bottom from time to time - in the phonebook, for example – but again, this was most certainly due to the non-final software we had on our unit. Other than that, Sony Ericsson has dressed up Gingerbread in nice gradient blue and gray colors, with beautiful transitional animations everywhere – from unlocking the screen to the subtle white glow when reaching the ends of a list while scrolling (which is actually present in stock Gingerbread, but the manufacturer has tweaked the colors here).
The Timescape function is the biggest customization left. It is a card-based system for showing your messaging and social networking updates, flippable up and down with ease, but it's little more than eye candy. Social networking is present in the phonebook, but loosely integrated, and you are redirected to the dedicated apps if you want to lookup your contacts' Facebook or Twitter profile from the phonebook.
Some other elements of the UX interface are also preserved with a twist, such as the dock at the bottom, where now you have an app drawer in the middle, similar to stock Android, and four shortcuts or folders – two on each side of the app drawer. Pressing it calls up main menu, which has transparent background of the pages where grids with app icons are waiting to be rearranged alphabetically, by most used or most recently installed at the touch of a button at the bottom – another new UI element for Sony Ericsson.
The coolest function in the interface is the Overview mode – pinch the screen to zoom away, and all your current widgets gather on one homescreen, so you don't even have to swipe left or right between homescreens to find what you need - a nice touch, reminiscing the helicopter view in HTC Sense.
Browser, Connectivity and Software:
The stock Android 2.3 browser is an excellent mobile solution for accessing the Internets, and it makes no exception in the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc. Due to the speedy chipset, zooming, scrolling, panning around and multitouch work flawlessly (yes, Virginia we finally have multitouch). By default the browser didn't display Flash videos properly, but when we downloaded the latest version of Adobe Flash from Android Market, they showed, so it was probably due to the software not being finalized yet.
There is no Swype preinstalled on the prototype unit, but typing on the big screen with the new and improved Gingerbread keyboard is a joy. Placing the cursor and selecting text now is done with the help of large handles, which are much easier to grab and drag around than what we had in Froyo.
As far as connectivity goes, the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc has it all but 4G – 7.2Mbps HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, A-GPS, FM radio with RDS, and DLNA for media streaming. The DLNA function has its own app called Media Server, or you can also use the microHDMI port to stream movies from the handset to your big screen TV.
There is no other GPS software but Google Maps, which in its 5.0 version offers precaching of maps for offline use, and 3D view of the buildings in selected cities. On the phone we still had version 4.7, but this will surely change in the final release. When cold-started, it took the GPS about 4-5 minutes to locate us, which is average, and if we had a data connection it locked us in for seconds, as is already the norm.
A new twist is the LiveWare app – it allows you to start an application of your choosing when something is connected to the phone, be it a headset, headphones or a charger. Thus you can start the music or video player each time headphones are connected, or automatically go into the desktop clock mode in Android, while the handset is charging.
1. Rizky (unregistered)
Too bad the display still less stunning than Super Amoled series, if only Arc use S amoled it might can save more power too since S amoled turn off the pixel when showing black colour (as we can see from comparison)
2. markogin (unregistered)
I love it but..... all these bells and whisles and no front face camera?? What the........
3. markogin (unregistered)
I am always looking for unlocked android phones with support of AT&T + Euro 3G network. I hope this phone will have all that....like the Nokia N8. Does anybody know about these specs? It always seems one dfficult thing to find out for sure.
4. Monkuttan (unregistered)
no front camera,What is this .its definitely a failure for a high end phone like this.It is even available in X10 mini
5. blke (unregistered)
There is no front camera in mini pro eighter. But still I'm glad I have one, as it's cheap and comfortable.
6. 000 (unregistered)
nice phone..............goin to buy it when it is out..........
7. Wardski (unregistered)
Nice but no...
WTF? only 278Mb ROM? Did I just read that correctly or just have a brain fart?
Even the Dell Streak has 2Gb of ROM for apps....
8. Pacebutlercorp (unregistered)
Excited to see the phone in action and how it performs on whatever network it will be on. Thanks for the review.
9. ggf.2 (unregistered)
12. ggf.2 (unregistered)
for the person that made this a 'bad comment', what i meant was the screen resolution. unlike most other phones (including all htc,all lg android and all samsung) with WVGA display is 480x800. All WVGA motorola + SE android phones have FWVGA(480x854) phones, which makes it good to watch videos.
10. portuguese guy (unregistered)
cool phone, do u guys know, when the xperiax10 mini pro 2, will be available.
11. pepe_le_piu (unregistered)
Be aware of the following:
Sony Ericsson has stated it will not release Android upgrades for the Xperia line. If you purchase a SE Arc, there is no way of knowing if down the line they will do the same to that handset.
Citing Markus, the SE rep who moderates the Facebook SE forums:
"We have not had pre-decided tactics to wait as long as possible to let our users know that we are not going to give Froyo to our X10 phones or X8.
I can assure you that there was no decision taken to not go beyond 2.1 before these phones was released on the market."
So, a word of warning if you are considering a SE Arc: You could be hung out to dry if you purchase any new Android Smartphone from SE.
19. Mrp (unregistered)
Hmm...i have seen this exact same comment on several websites from this user....having checked various facebook forums for the X10 and Xperia range I find this to be, put bluntly, untrue. SE have made a commitment to ensuring all their handsets are using the newest and most up to date Android versions as quickly as possible. I think this chap may have had a bad experience somewhere down the line!
13. PatchyPatch (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 Jan 2011)
OMG! You people crying about "No Front Facing Cameras"....this is 2011 NOT 1995! Get over it!
17. Bert (unregistered)
I fully agree, this whole facechat crap is really annoying.
I don't want to look at someone's face while talking on the phone.
14. rickrollshah (Posts: 2; Member since: 23 Jan 2011)
Been thinking about getting this. I have a bunch of phones. Have a Sony Ericsson phone which is good, so maybe will get this.
Also got an HTC Phone, Windows Phone, Samsung, LG, Motorola. I got a Bunch of them.
Will see. Might not get it.
18. duhh (unregistered)
i got a nokia too. u're point exactly?
or u're just wanna brag about the "look-at-me-i-have-a-lot-of-phones". seriously. get over it.
16. Pavel (unregistered)
i think Author did not understand that mobile bravia engine of reality display works just when you watching pictures or video.So Viewing angles of displays is not completely true!)
20. Umair Riaz (unregistered)
I Love the display and design of this phone which is just fantastic but the only thing i hate is its interface which is ugly and funny looking ,,, Anyways this is a good looking phone ,,, well done SonyEricsson
21. val31910 (unregistered)
hello guys does anybody have a comment regarding the battery life of SE Experia arc??im planning to buy this phone this week end..anybody pls tell me if the battery is ok or not..i have my windows phone LG optimus 7 and i regret buying it...so im planning to go back to SE maybe..
24. Musthafa (unregistered)
great phone and great features from sony ericsson again..this phone and Xperia Neo Avaible for Pre-Order at just Rs. 1000http://t.co/kNbSqCu
This is the good news for Indians only!
26. Marian (unregistered)
Guys I am going to buy this telephone, but I found rewiews on antoher sites, which has bad opinion about the hd cam recording. Does anybody have some experience with this please? Thank you.
27. LOL16LOL (unregistered)
Guys u dont know what are u writing about this phone! Do u know how perfect this phone is ! You maybe haven`t got an idea
28. huh? (unregistered)
Phonearena is run by Apple fanboys? Still saying iphone's display better than more ADVANCED displays? Is like telling people some manufacture's LCD TV is so much better than everyone else's LED TV! I bet when apple intro a OLED screen, these folks will say apple's OLED screen is the best. How Stupid!
29. vipul aggarwal (unregistered)
M using xperia arc n its a great phone to have in ur hands,great design great looks n evrything but really desperate for front facing camera...n also of its low ram memory wich causes it to hang wen downloading a bunch of apps...wish it cud have dese problems fixed else its d great n stylish sony phone with much happening features:-)