The latest 2.3.3 Android operating system can be found on board the Xperia Ray with plans to make the 2.3.4 upgrade available as soon as possible.
Sony Ericsson boldly stated earlier this year to Tech Guide its goal was to become the No 1 Android smartphone – a feat the company has achieved in 16 countries around the world.
Australia is not one of those countries but it hopes devices like the Xperia Ray – which will have a stronger appeal to women who were put off by the bulkier larger screen models – will propel it in the right direction.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray will be available exclusively through Vodafone for as little as $5 a month on a $29 plan until the end of December before being released on the other networks.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Xperia Ray is more on the compact size to make it easy to fit in your bag or in your pocket.
But don’t assume smaller means less powerful. It has a 1Ghz processor, 512MB RAM and an 8.1 megapixel camera. There’s also a front-facing camera.
The device’s 3.3-inch screen is sharp and bright and still provides enough space to view apps, browse the web and access your messages.
Sony Ericsson calls the screen a Reality Display which incorporates Sony’s mobile Bravia Engine to provide excellent rich colour, clarity and sharpness.
On board memory is limited to 1GB which is mostly taken up by the operating system and apps but a microSD card slot can expand memory by up to 32GB.
Below the screen in the centre is a physical home key with a touch sensitive return and menu key on either side.
Along the top edge is the 3.5mm headphone jack and the on/off/lock key. On the left edge is the USB/charging and on the right the volume up and down control.
The Xperia Ray is 11.1cm long, 5.3cm wide and just 9.4mm thick and weights just 110g. It has a quality feel.
Speed is not an issue with the Xperia Ray despite its smaller size. We accessed the device’s many features, cruised through the menus and apps very quickly.
The Android operating system is complimented by Sony Ericsson’s very own interface to allow users to customise the handset and home screens.
This includes Timescape which can put all your phone and social networking activity in a widget on the home screen.
Speaking of social networks – the most popular of all – Facebook is also nicely integrated into the Xperia Ray.
Facebook albums appear in the device’s gallery while contacts and their details are also at hand so you’ll always be up with events and never miss a friend’s birthday.
One of the best features of the Xperia Ray is the 8.1 megapixel camera which features Sony’s Exmor R for mobile CMOS sensor.
Pictures taken with the camera were stunning with accurate colour and impressive clarity, brightness and detail – even for those pictures snapped in low light conditions.
And it has all the features you’ll find on a dedicated digital camera – flash, red-eye reduction, image stabiliser, touch focus and face detection.
It can also capture impressive 720p high definition videos.
While the smaller screen means a smaller device that’s easier to carry around it also means a smaller keyboard when typing out messages.
There’s the option of a full keyboard or a phone pad but either way was difficult in portrait mode with the virtual keys so close together.
Turning the Xperia Ray on its side in landscape mode made typing a lot easier.
Content is easy to come by thanks to shortcuts to Sony’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited. If you sign up to either the basic or premium plans ($3.99 and $9.99 respectively) you can stream music and even access songs on demand with the premium service from anywhere on the Xperia Ray.
With Video Unlimited there is easy access to more than 9000 movies which can be downloaded over wi-fi to the device.
On the battery side a full charge easily got us through a full day and to about mid-morning the next day so it was satisfactory.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray packs lots of features and abilities into a small device.
Despite some minor shortcomings, the Xperia Ray is a pocket rocket that can deliver a true smartphone experience without weighing you down.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray
Four stars (out of five)