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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc review [PC Supporter]

Source: PC Pro Mag [July edition]

The last time Sony Ericsson endeavored a big screen Android phone, we weren’t mostly impressed. The Xperia X10 bragged a large, bright, high-resolution 4 inch display, but it had major faults. The Arc is the inheritor to that handset, and it makes a striking first impression.

  Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

As with the X10, this is mainly down to its screen which completely snips the show. It’s larger than the X10’s at 4.2 inche, and matches its resolution at 480 x 854, but it’s much brighter and pithier. In fact, at maximum brightness, and with the help of Sony’s Bravia Engine picture enhancement technology, the Arc’s LED-backlit screen looks spectacular.

It’s marvelous screen on which to watch movies and also to view photos; if you elegant watching on a bigger screen the HDMI output lets you go large.

Its looks are also worth residence on: at its thinnest, the Arc measures just 8.9mm from front to back and weighs only 116g. The rear panel curves in slightly, so it sits easily in your hand. Plus, that curvature means it doesn’t scratch and scuff as much as others when you lay it on a float surface.

The touchscreen is more responsive than it was on the X10, with hardly a hint of delay of quake as you sweep from one Android desktop to another, pan around web pages and zoom in and out. That’s despite a vigorous selection of Sony Ericsson’s own widgets, apps and OS customizations.

Of these, we hold the same mixed opinion as we did before. We like the tweaks Sony Ericsson has made to folders – they pop up in an attractive transparent overlay window – and when you create folders you’re given the option to name them there and then, instead of having to edit them later. The toolbar that runs along the bottom screen gives lasting access to common features, and can be customized with shortcuts and folders.

We like the idea of Timescape, which joins not just Facebook and Twitter feeds, but also recent phone and text activity, displaying items as cards in a 3D rolodex-style view. In practice, however, you can fit only six cards onscreen at any one time; give us a less fancy 2D list view any day.

Under the hood, the Arc is powered by the same single-core 1GHz Scorpion processor and Adreno GPU (backed up with 512 MB of RAM) found in the Xperia Play, the HTC Incredible S and the HTC Desire HD. Games are dispatched with aplomb, and it’s a dammed sight slicker in general use than its predecessor too. This combination of bits and bobs secures sound benchmark figures. We ran the SunSpider JavaScript test in the native browser for a score of five seconds; the BBC homepage loaded in an average of seven seconds; and the Android-specific Quadrant benchmark app returned a score of 1,378. All these compare well with the immediate competition – it’s slightly quicker than the incredible S in SunSpider, and slightly slower in Quadrant.

Against the iPhone 4, it’s competitive too. More notable are the Arc’s battery results. We measured 70% remaining after our 24-hour test, which is remarkable for a large-screen smartphone. It’s a result that suggest a couple of days of moderate use are well within the Arc’s compass, and in use we found we needed to charge it only every other day.

The 8-megapixel camera is worthy of high praise to. The big screen makes a wonderful viewfinder, and the pictures and 720p video it produces are top-notch. There’s good detail and contrast, reliable color production both inside and out, and performance is good. The only gripe we had was with the JPEG compression, which is fairly aggressive; it isn’t disastrous, but it’s obvious when you zoom in that some fine detail is being lost, especially in dim lighting.

There are other niggies too, and the first concerns build quality. It may look gorgeous, but the plastic rear panel feels flimsy, and it creaks and moves a little, even when snapped in place. The three buttons below the screen feel plastically and insubstantial, and we take objection to the positioning of the headphone jack. With a phone this large, having a plug digging out at the side doesn’t make it particularly pocket friendly.

Perhaps more serious is that the GPS radio is uneven, sometimes locking on to satellites in a moment, while at other times taking many minutes to give a positional fix. That’s a concern if you plan to rely on your phone as a satnav.

Website http://www.sonyericsson.co.uk

Specifications

Single-core 1GHz Scorpion CPU ● 512MB RAM ● 320MB ROM ● 8GB microSD card ● 4.2in 480 x 854 TFT ● quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE/3G/HSDPA ● Bluetooth 2.1 ● 802.11bgn WLAN ● 8mp camera ● GPS ● light, accelerometer and proximity sensors ● 1,500 mAh lithium ion battery ● Android 2.3 ● 2yr RTB warranty ● 62.5 x 11 x 125mm (WDH) ● 116g

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