Sony Ericsson Xperia active Review

Sony Ericsson Xperia active Review

Smart and rugged, two words that don't tend to go together all that often, especially when it comes to phones. A light to moderate encounter with the floor would pretty much wipe out the majority of smartphones out there and as for the rugged-phone market, if you could save more than 1000 numbers on a rugged phone released in the past decade, you'd be in luck. So while rugged phones and smart phones have tended to keep their distance, after the game-changing Motorola DEFY paved the rugged-smart way, the market is now onto its next wave of rugged-smartphones with the DEFY's successor, the Samsung Galaxy Xcover and the Sony Ericsson Xperia active all vying for a place in your action-packed lifestyle. Today we'll be taking a look at the Sony Ericsson offering, with its rugged water resistance, dust proofing and pre-installed fitness apps coupled with its smart 1GHz processor, Android 2.3 and optimized user interface. Add to that the host of accessories the handset ships with and you're getting a pretty good deal out of the box. These include:
•    USB charging cable
•    Arm pouch for running
•    Stereo headphones (earbud variety) with attachable earhooks
•    2GB Memory card
•    Rubber Lanyard to secure phone to wrist
•    Additional back cover
Screen sizes above 3.7" were regarded a novelty little over a year ago, but with the rise of the Android has come an influx of 4-4.3 inchers, and with the Google Nexus Prime (4.6"), HTC Titan / Sensation XL (4.7") and Samsung Galaxy Note (5.3") just round the corner, there's little doubt that the trend for bigger screens is far from over. At a modest 3 inches however, the Sony Ericsson Xperia active firmly bucks the trend, demonstrating from the offset that it isn't trying to be a media monster, but instead a bulbous, nimble, weatherproofed action phone that can take a splash or dip (up to three feet / 1meter) while comfortably dangling from the supplied lanyard.

You can compare the Sony Ericsson Xperia active with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
The Xperia active's LCD display measures in at 3", has a resolution of 320x480 and is endowed with a couple of Sony Ericsson's own technologies, the first being their Mobile Bravia Engine boosting visual performance and the second a wet-finger tracking system enabling touch input even when the screen or your finger is wet. Viewing angles are surprisingly good, though at its brightest we would have liked the Sony Ericsson Xperia active to shine a little brighter. in turn, outdoor viewing isn't the greatest, so bear that in mind if you plan to take this active handset on a desert trek or a summertime hike.

Physically we've already alluded to the bulbous appearance of the Sony Ericsson Xperia active, so despite being small, at 16.5mm the device is bordering on chunky. Below the display are three capacitive buttons and the microphone while above is a LED notification, light sensor and in call speaker. Surrounding the display panel is a silver metal rim and neon orange detail (depends on color version). A volume rocker, power and camera button sit on the sides while the bottom of the phone houses two weather-sealed flaps, which reveal the 3.5mm headphone jack and micro USB port. Flip it over and the Sony Ericsson Xperia active's 5MP AF camera, LED flash and loudspeaker are all present. An added bonus for the customization fans out there comes in the form of the back covers, one black and one pearly white, both present in the box.

The handset feels plasticky which means you won't be too precious about it having the odd swing or knock. This makes sense given the dust and water-proofing. Water proof up to 1 meter is what you find in the rival models as well, allowing you to use it  in heavy rain and not worry if you spill water on it. However, you shouldn't swim with these phones.



1. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

any chance of this being a faulty unit?

2. PhoneArena Team

Posts: 258; Member since: Jun 27, 2006

Unfortunately, not. We double checked it with a second unit.

3. ghost_uwi

Posts: 47; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

two faulty units :P

4. jacko unregistered


5. balaklava

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

Great review, the info about the poor call quality was very valuable. I found this blog where they made an in-depth review about the pre-installed sports apps on the Xperia Active.

6. thouvou

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

I suppose you took a look at it's hard to believe that mini has good call quality,since active is based on that. I was looking forward to buying active and got very dissapointed by the call quality results very good review though

7. Artur

Posts: 4; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

Hello Dear, I 've just read your review, and I can't believe, that you put many nice pic's of SE xperia active, and you saying in your review that the phone has "Surrounding the display panel is a silver plastic rim"......... I've got this phone yesterday after I gave back SE xperia mini. Xperia active has Metal rim....not plastic as you describe. Second, you say that xperia active have: " while above is a front facing camera," There is no front facing camera. After 1 year having HTC Desire I sold it out, because the battery life was tragic, and was to big phone for me. Than week ago I've got xperia mini, and I was surprise how good phone it is.Only I didn't like the physical "Home" bottom which had feeling like after some use will be tear off....and the screen texture was getting funny way very fast greasy dirty.I see on xperia active the sreen quality is much better. What I found about bouth phones....the back speaker, the sound is to HTC Desire (horrible). Enjoy your xperia active. I don't understand how we can trust your review if you don't see the things clearly....

8. PhoneArena Team

Posts: 258; Member since: Jun 27, 2006

Thanks for the feedback, we've edited the review with the correct information.

9. Artur

Posts: 4; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

Not for the sony ericsson xperia active.

10. Artur

Posts: 4; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

Now I see you have changed, corrected. Unbelievable... I compare your review of xperia active with xperia mini.....You just use the same sentences from review from xperia mini in review xperia active..... What a lazy job you do..... In my best respect

13. Farkad

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

Hello, thanks for the the review, very well done. but I have a question: do you guys have any idea for the release date for North America? I've searched MANY web sites and SE website is not helping either! I've been anticipating this phone since its release to Europe, and my current phone is Killing me!! I'm just so tired of waiting that I might buy a different phone.....

15. Trixx

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

I have been using my Sony ericsson active for a month now and i have to say I am very well pleased with the device. call quality is ok. battery is just ok the unit still steardy tough , especially when in water. the only small prob it has is when the phone gets wet , the speaker becomes muffled, I have to wait for it to dry befor ethe speaker comes back to its normal sound. but all in all I love my unit. one of the best around comapring to other new mobiles that are too fragile.

16. brix102778

Posts: 1; Member since: May 16, 2012

Trixx you are right... To see and to feel is to believe... I have my new Xperia active and I been using it for 3 days already... Pretty fast and has good sound quality... Not to mention the toughness of the material used on the casing... I am a Mechanical Engineer that's why I know how tough this is... The casing was made out of tough plastic material combined with a metal aluminum frame w/c is both strong and light weight... Also had good and outstanding camera capture quality, I already used the 3D panoramic feature and the outcome was superb... This is one of the SMART phones that I encountered in my entire life... Imagine you could take pictures underwater... Nice one, now I am not afraid of bringing with me my cell phone at the beach or boating "island hopping and even fishing... Nice one sony...

17. Dydia

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 18, 2012

HI. I have a big problem with front camera. Does this phone even have it? Because when I call from skype, there is showing just back camera. Help me

18. OlleProductions

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 05, 2013

Just wanted to let you know that I read this review two years ago and wen’t ahead and bought the phone. It has since been with me for many hours training and I find it a really good training companion. I event went ahead and made my own app for it that I recently published to Google Play. It is called Move Tracker. Thanks for the great review that made me start the fun hobby programming project building Move Tracker!

19. _5er_

Posts: 1; Member since: May 21, 2014

After 2 years of use: -Hand strap band broke off -Back cover headphone hinge broke off - white spare cover is slippery as hell - useless -Microphone became terrible after 1 year - people can't hear me -Cam became blurry, surface not scratched - impossible to scratch

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Xperia active
  • Display 3.0" 320 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S2, Single core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 0.32 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1200 mAh(5.50h 3G talk time)

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