Camera and Multimedia:

The 8MP camera on the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc is with the new Exmor R sensor. It is back-illuminated, like the one on the iPhone 4. This feature, combined with a novel arrangement of the photo diodes, tailored to the fine pixel structure, should bring high sensitivity and less noise in low-light situations. Its 1/3.2" size is a far cry from the 1/1.83” on the Nokia N8, but the pictures are still very good.

The color representation is extremely accurate, detail is plenty, and the only issue we saw is a tad harsh noise suppression, which slightly smeared the details when light was scarce. The low-light snaps came out above average, probably thanks to the back-illuminated sensor, and the yellowish hue that we observed in all indoor photos with the iPhone 4 was present here only in one of four snaps. The LED flash is no Xenon, but does the job up to about ten feet, without casting weird shadows on the objects.

It also does a good job illuminating night video scenes, especially in Night Scene mode. Video is smooth at 30 fps, and the same good looking colors and fine detail are observed as in the stills.

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc Sample Video 1:

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc Sample Video 2:

The camera interface is touch-friendly and intuitive. There are six focusing modes – single autofocus, multi autofocus, macro, face detection, infinity and touch focus. Center, spot and average metering modes are covered as well, and for manual white balance setup incandescent, fluorescent, daylight and cloudy options are available. There are also an image stabilizer mode and four flash modes – auto, fill flash, no flash, and red eye reduction. The extensive capabilities of the 8MP shooter are rounded up with a bunch of scene modes such as Landscape, Portrait, Night Portrait, Sports, Beach and Snow, Night Scene, Party and Document. The smile detection algorithm can even be set to track a faint or a big smile.

Obviously a lot of Sony’s Cybershot expertise has gone into the camera interface, but a notable exception is the lack of any effects on the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc. No Negative or Sepia, nothing, which is puzzling, considering the wide range of other capabilities. There is a vertical strip with the latest pictures and videos captured on the right, and you can pull it left to reveal the rest in thumbnail view, which resembles the concept in WP7.

The music player is the same as in the other iterations of this UI, with flashy, but minimalistic interface, ten equalizers, the song recognition service Track ID, and the option to show related YouTube videos. The loudspeaker is outstanding. Strong, with deep base sounds and very clean and pure output, even at the highest volume.

The video player and the gallery are stock Android and the handset doesn’t support DivX/Xvid, so we had to download a free player from Android Market to watch our ripped TV shows with subtitles. The Mobile BRAVIA Engine can be turned on and off manually from the Display settings, but we can’t imagine a reason for it to be off, as it adds color and sharpness to the pictures and videos on the handset.

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