Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S Review

By on October 24, 2011
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Look past the flaws and you’ll see something beautiful.

Good: Beautiful screen; Thin and lightweight; Great camera and decent Timescape UI
Bad: Poor viewing angles; No front camera; No hot-swappable microSD slot; Not a lot to offer over original Xperia arc
Price: AED 2,099
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.


Sony Ericsson was formed by Sony and Ericsson in 2001. The two giants of consumer electronics and mobile telecommunications respectively have had a bumpy ride since then. However, thanks to their new range of Android smartphones, things may be looking up for the embattled telecommunications company. Today we take a look at the Xperia arc S, an update of their flagship phone, the Xperia arc.

When I first got my hands on the arc S, I couldn’t help feel amazed at how thin it was. The phone is shaped like an arc, thin in the middle but slightly thicker at the top and bottom. Despite knowing this, it still felt much thinner than it actually was. Measuring at only 8.7mm at its thinnest point, it is only slightly thicker than Samsung’s Galaxy S2 but I doubt you could really tell that unless you measured them.

It is mostly made of plastic with a mirror finish covering the side, top and bottom but it in no way feels really cheap. I reviewed the white version and the combination of white glossy plastic on the front and back and mirror finish on the sides made the phone feel like it had class. I had the chance to play around with the black version of this phone and while I liked the shiny black, it gets covered in fingerprints almost instantly. The white version is no exception but you really don’t notice the smudges as much so the overall look of the phone isn’t compromised if you don’t wipe it down every day.

At the front, from top to bottom, you have a light sensor, proximity sensor and speaker above the screen and under it are the Back, Home and Menu buttons. On the top there’s the Power/Lock button and the micro-HDMI port. On the left there’s the 3.5mm headphone jack and on the right you have the microUSB plug, an LED indicator, a volume rocker at one end and the camera button at the other.  At the back there’s the camera and LED flash, a 2nd mic and a tiny speaker near the bottom.

The power button is round and seems rather small and can often be hard to press and find. While holding the phone I found myself accidentally touching the camera/shutter button, tucked away at the bottom right. The button itself is also small and takes a bit of getting used to because it is a two stage shutter button, one to focus, and two to click. The headphone jack can also be an issue if you have a plug that’s straight and not right angled. I found it annoying when I left the phone in my pocket and was listening to music. The bundled earphones however are right angled so they don’t have the same issue.

Overall the build quality was pretty decent, the battery cover was easy to remove and once you clicked it back into place, there weren’t any uneven edges. While holding the phone tightly you can hear creaks but they’re not too loud and I guess you have to expect these when dealing with plastic and such a thin phone.

Bundled with the phone you get a microUSB to USB cable, a charger, some manuals, earphones with call/pause button and different sized buds. You also get an 8 GB microSD card and a 1500mAh battery. The phone weighs only 117g, which is pretty light considering the iPhone4 and HTC Sensation XE weigh 140 and 151g respectively. It is however heavier than the S2 by 1 gram though when I compared the two, the Samsung felt significantly lighter. As mentioned previously, the arc S is very thin measuring in at 125 x 63 x 8.7mm compared to the S2 at 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5mm and the Sensation XE at 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3mm.

The Xperia arc S uses the same Scorpio processor as the Xperia arc but the clock speed has been bumped from 1 GHz to 1.4. It comes with the same Adreno 205 GPU as well. This is a single core processor bear in mind, the S2 and Sensation are both dual core and so is the iPhone4S. Using SunSpider the phone managed an impressive 2607ms which is quite astounding considering the Sensation XE managed 3184 and the S2 only 3416. I ran the test four times to make sure and I can only conclude that the Xperia arc S has a more optimized browser or SunSpider doesn’t like dual core processors.

The arc S runs Gingerbread version 2.3.4 which has various updates such as 3D sweep panorama and swipe with T9. It shares the same screen as the original arc which is a 4.2 LCD with a resolution of 480×854 and a pixel density of 233ppi.  Sony’s Bravia Engine helps sharpen images and improve the overall quality of your photos when viewed on the phone’s screen. The 8 megapixel camera has image stabilization, autofocus and is capable of taking videos at 720p. I was surprised to notice the arc S does not have a front facing camera. This is something that is found even on its own Xperia Ray. I can understand if they omitted this from the original arc but the arc S could have used such an upgrade for video calls, something its competitors can do that it can’t.

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