Sony Ericsson Xperia active Review

Interface and Functionality:
With a smaller than most display, the Sony Ericsson Xperia active’s UI does the right thing and borrows directly from the working formula found on the Sony Ericsson Xperia mini / Pro. This endows the user with all the benefits of Android 2.3.4, plus Sony Ericsson specific UI modifications enabling comfortable use on a miniature display. Most notably these tweaks include: shortcut screen corners, each housing between 1 and 4 application shortcuts that expand upon selection, a T9 portrait keypad for text entry with QWERTY available in landscape and redesigned widgets.

Due to the small screen, typing on the portrait on-screen keyboard is not among the best of experiences, so we would recommend sticking to the landscape QWERTY, which isn't as great as what we have on bigger phones as well, but is tolerable.

Pre-loaded applications include a data monitor app, Connected Devices (DLNA) and other Sony Ericsson standards such as LiveWare and TimeScape, which now includes plug-ins from Android Market, adding additional services that you can follow through the program, like Gmail or Foursquare. Device specific apps include WalkMate, a pedometer app which tracks your steps and the rather long winded iMapMyFITNEESS, a holistic fitness application that tracks workouts and nutrition and even connects to a separate heart-rate monitor that can be bought separately for accurate calorie consumption.

We were able to get localized in about 3 minutes, by using GPS satellites alone. When using aGPS, we were found instantly.

Internet and Connectivity:
The Sony Ericsson Xperia active offers quad band GSM and dual band 3G as well as the usual, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, microUSB connectivity as well as DLNA.

The internet experience on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active is satisfying on the whole though as can be expected, is hampered by the small 3" screen. This means that if you just want to check a couple of websites, or make a quick search the experience should be fine, though for longer usage it might start to get cumbersome.
The Android browser runs very well on the Xperia mini, with no significant delays in scrolling, zooming, etc. In addition, due to its 1GHz processor and native Flash support, you won't miss a thing when browsing. The phone stays responsive even when viewing a Flash-intensive website.

There's a 5-megapixel camera on the Sony Ericsson Xperia active which is also capable of recording 720p video. The interface is in tune with the rest of Sony Ericsson's new line, borrowing heavily from the Sony Cybershot camera UI. Most options are accessible within a single tap, and you can also customize their arrangement, so that what you need the most stays at your fingertips.

We managed to take some passable photos, though colors are somewhat dull and there is a lack of fine detail. The situation doesn't change much when you move indoors, with things just getting a little noisier. The LED flash is, unfortunately, pretty weak so won't help you improve the quality of your photos tоo much.

The same can be written about the 720p video. Again, we're witnessing a mostly blurry image that lacks fine detail and clarity, all the while having these accurate, yet somewhat dull colors.

Sony Ericsson Xperia active Sample Video:

It also features Sony Ericsson's new “3D camera” app, which is designed to take a 3D photo, although it is a single lens device.


As we said in the beginning, the Sony Ericsson Xperia active features the Mobile Bravia Engine, which makes viewing pictures and video on the phone's screen a much bigger pleasure. Out of the box, the handset is capable of playing H.264 and MPEG-4 video at up to 720p resolution. For other codecs, you'll obviously have to install a 3rd-party player.
Sony Ericsson's music player is user-friendly, with big buttons for easy navigation. You have lots of different goodies to play with, like equalizer settings and the xLOUD option, which should enhance the loudness of the speaker. We actually found it to add some low frequencies to the mix, making for even easier listening. Finally, there's the handy infinity button that lets you perform quick searches for a song's lyrics, karaoke videos on YouTube, artist's bio, etc.
The earphones included with the phone, the MH650 perform above average, with well-balanced sound which you can manipulate using the various equalizer presets. There are also a range of earbuds included.



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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