Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S Review

Introduction and Design

After redeeming its Android mojo with the sleek and capable Sony Ericsson Xperia arc, the company decided to out an upgrade as a stopgap flagship until it eventually makes it to the dual-core Nozomi rumored for next year.

We say stopgap, since the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S keeps the breathtaking design of its predecessor, but ups the ante with a still-single core 1.4GHz processor, 14.4Mbps instead of 7.2Mbps radio, and teaches the 8MP Exmor R camera some new tricks.

So the phone gets faster and allows you to do cool 2D and quasi-3D panorama shots, keeping its sexy design, but still doesn’t have a front-facing camera? Is that supposed to be compensated by the “S” for a speedier processor and baseband radio? Read on our review to find out...


The Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S is again just 0.34” (8.7mm) thin in the middle, which gradually becomes 0.39” (10mm) at both ends. The overarching ambition (pun intended) has been to arm the company with “one of the thinnest” punch line, and the result is beautiful.

You can compare the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Everyone we showed the handset to loved how slick it is, and even we seasoned veterans couldn't help but agree that tall, thin and narrow seems to be a good solution for big screen handsets. The size of the huge 4.2” display is barely uncomfortable at 0.34” thickness, and the arched profile makes it a breeze to hold and handle.

The 4.2” screen is of Sony's own Super LCD variety, with 480x854 pixels of resolution and LED backlighting. With the addition of the Mobile BRAVIA Engine to this screen type, borrowed from its TV lineup, Sony has come up with a new marketing title – the Reality Display. What it does in actuality is to rev up the contrast and sharpness of the picture when displaying photos or playing videos.

We can attest that there is a difference, although it is not as strikingly significant as the one between the Super LCD and the punchy colors of the Super AMOLED screen technologies, for instance. The display is bright enough for comfortably operating it in broad daylight, which is all fine and dandy, but the viewing angles, for that matter, are pretty poor. Contrast and color degradation when looking at an angle are almost akin to the older generation of LCD displays, and far from the excellent viewing angles on the IPS-LCD of the Xperia ray, for example.

The phone sports the previous Xperia line design with the thin buttons underneath the display, instead of the huge semi-circle for a home button we have in the latest Xperias. The three keys are illuminated with white LED lights, and have a nice rubbery feeling to them when pressed, instead of annoying clicks, making them fun to operate. The whole design is made of quality plastic.The back cover flexes a bit when pressed down because of the thin plastic, but the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S clocks in at 4.12 oz (117grams), which is very good for a handset that size.

The camera sensor is placed in the only space the engineering team could fit it, considering the 0.34” thickness in the middle - near the upper edge on the back - which means you have to be careful not to place your finger over the lens when shooting. Combine that with the rather smallish and somewhat hard to press shutter key on the right near the lower edge, and you definitely need to hold the phone with two hands when taking a picture, unless you use the touchscreen.

The power/lock screen key at the top is is slightly protruding to make it easier to find, but it's still the size of confetti, so just for checking what time it is, you have to fiddle with your fingers at the top, until you find and press it.

There is still no front-facing camera, which will be a disappointment to those who ever use one.

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S 360-degrees View:

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