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Interface and Functionality:

With the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc, Sony Ericsson has changed the way its custom UI interacts with Android by only including the Timescape element, and mentioned 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 runs Android 2.3 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 Snapdragon MSM8255 chipset that is in the HTC Desire HD, and the T-Mobile myTouch 4G and carries the powerful Adreno 205 graphics chip making it one of the fastest handsets this side of dual-core. We did notice some stuttering every now and then, and slow-down with the custom widgets, however nothing drastic.

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, though 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 profiles from the phonebook.

One of the fancier functions in the interface is the Overview mode – pinch the homescreen 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, with the offer of some original functionality.

Internet, 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. Flash content, including videos, displays very well, and the whole mobile internet experience is great.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia arc has all the connectivity options other than 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 which we tested and works great.

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.

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