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Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

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Sony Ericsson has this year set itself the ambitious task of becoming number one in the Android mobile phone market.

That’s a huge goal considering the calibre of the companies they are up against – Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola.

But Sony Ericsson has come up with a device that could well be its best weapon in this smartphone war – the Xperia Arc.   

The product takes advantage of technology from across the Sony business to create a marked improvement in screen quality, speed and the built-in camera.

DESIGN

The Xperia Arc is a good-looking phone with a large 4.2-inch screen and only three physical keys on the front face. When not active the screen is completely camouflaged into the black frame of the device.

But the true beauty of the device can only be appreciated when you hold it in your hand. The Arc in the Xperia’s name is evident on the rear panel of the device.

Sony Ericsson's Xperia Arc is just 8.7mm at its thinnest point

It is this “human curvature” Sony Ericsson has developed with great success of late and, in the case of the Arc, its concave shape fits nicely over your fingers.

It’s supermodel thin at just 8.7mm and a featherweight 117g. What helps keep the weight of the device down is fact it is made from lightweight plastic.

But on the down side this plastic feel makes it feel a little flimsy. Whenever we removed the thin back cover we were worried it was going to break. Thankfully it didn’t but it took away from the overall build quality of the product.

That aside, the Xperia Arc has lots of features to get excited about.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc is running Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating systemSCREEN

The device’s 4.2-inch Reality Display takes advantage of the mobile version of the Bravia engine used in Sony’s TVs.

The result is a screen with 854 x 480 resolution that is sharp and clear with life-like colours and excellent contrast. And it looked just as good in bright light and outdoors.

Viewing pictures and videos on the Xperia Arc’s screen is a rewarding experience.

CAMERA

Also on board is an 8.1 megapixel camera which takes top quality pictures and shoots impressive 720p resolution HD video.

Additional features of the camera include image stabiliser, geotagging, smile detection and several scene modes including landscape, sports, night , party and beach and snow.

The camera uses Sony’s Exmor R sensor which reduces image noise and helps maintain brightness in pictures shot in low-light conditions.

It’s also possible to share the images and videos captured with the Xperia Arc to your flatscreen TV using HDMI Out.

Our only criticism of the camera was the tiny capture button on the side of the device which needs a realty hard push to activate the shutter.

SOFTWARE

The Xperia Arc runs Android’s latest 2.3 software, otherwise known as Gingerbread.

Sony Ericsson has added its own software layer on top which includes Timescape.

This allows users to gather all of their communication in one place so it’s easy to see your friends’ latest messages, social networking updates and calls in a scrollable interface.

A similar interface is used to scroll through your gallery of images and videos.

It is possible to create up to five screens which can easily be populated by groupings of your favourite apps.

PERFORMANCE

The  Xperia Arc has a 1Ghz processor which makes the device noticeably faster than last year’s Sony Ericsson X10.

There is only 320MB of internal memory on the device but luckily there is a microSD card which can support up to 32GB of extra storage. The Xperia Arc ships with an 8GB microSD card inside.

Battery life got us through a full day and into the next morning which was about on par with similar devices of this kind.

CONCLUSION

In it’s bid to climb to the top of the Android smartphone market, Sony Ericsson has a solid contender with the Xperia Arc.

The device offers the style, functionality and features that make it stand out in the increasingly crowded Android smartphone landscape.

Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc is available now through Optus and Vodafone.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

Price: $899

Four and half stars (out of five)

www.sonyericsson.com.au