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Hands-on Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc Android Smartphone

Overall Rating

Senior Friendly Features

Cool Factor

9

Wireless Interface :

Bluetooth

Speakerphone :

Yes

Accessability Features :

Audible battery alert

Accessability Features :

Hearing aid compatible

Accessability Features :

Vibrating alert

Accessability Features :

Voice control capability

Quick Specs

OS Provided: 
Android
Service Provider: 
AT&T
Style: 
Candy bar phone
+ See more specifications

 

We first saw the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc at CES this year. It is a very thin, lightweight Android smartphone, with a curved back for easy holding (hence the name “Arc”). The screen is a very large 4.2 inches diagonally, and it has a slightly better than WVGA resolution of 854×480, which is beautiful to look at and easy to read. The large size is even enough for e-books via the Kindle or Nook apps, and it’s not a bad screen to play Angry Birds on, either. Sony has their Bravia technology in the phone, optimizing the display just as it does for their HDTV sets.

It’s a GSM phone, and in the U.S. it’s available through AT&T, and the first phone to run Gingerbread (Android 2.3). Between the new version of Android and Sony/Ericsson’s own tweaks, it’s easy to use and elegant.

The phone is really amazingly thin compared to any other smartphone with a screen this large. It’s 8.7mm thick, or about 1/3 of an inch. It fits in your hand comfortably, and the light weight will allow you to hold it easily for long periods of time. Of course, it has the latest in Bluetooth technology, so you can not only pair your favorite Bluetooth headset with it, you can stream music from the phone to any Bluetooth-enabled speaker set.

There’s a mini HDMI port on the side so you can connect it to your HDTV directly, giving you a VERY easy to see version of your phone’s display.

Build quality on this phone is excellent, as you’d expect from the Ericsson side with their expertise in building quality phones. Sound quality was good and clear on calls.

The 8.1 megapixel camera on the back can also shoot 720p HD video. It uses Sony’s Exmor R technology, giving it good low light performance, but the camera over-compresses and over-smooths the photos and videos. Though they look good on the phone, you may be disappointed seeing how mushy they look on your HDTV. For stills, sometimes lower megapixels are better, especially when it comes to overall quality. I know the marketing people want the specs to be amazing, but making up for it on the back end with low quality output is just awful. There’s no LED lights (which some people call a “flash”) for the camera, which can be a useful feature.

Speaking of specs, on paper it seems like it has some older technology. Many of the higher-end smartphones sport dual-core processors. The Arc’s single-core, 1GHz processor has no issues, here. The phone is responsive and actually snappy. Though it has 1 GB of internal storage, only about 1/3 of that is available for apps or other user items. There is a microSD slot, so there’s a possibility of up to 32GB of extra addable storage.

It is a 3G, not 4G phone, possibly because putting a 4G radio would have made it significantly thicker. The phone has a nice balance of features and surely the light weight and thin size are helped by this. There’s no fat, yet still plenty of extras and all the real features you need.

Overall, it is an elegant, well-designed phone with plenty of speed and power, with a big, bright, easy-to-see 4.2-inch screen and a handset that’s clear. The thin, light design feels great in your hand and is easy to hold onto for long talks, movies, etc.

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