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November 13, 2011

Sony-Ericsson Xperia Arc S Review

The Sony-Ericsson Xperia Arc S did not deviate much from the original Arc except for the bump in processor speed (and the additional colored variant) so it’s not really a huge improvement, in my opinion. Nevertheless, those extra clock cycles will certainly be of help once your handset needs it. Check out our full review after the jump.

Having owned and used the original Xperia Arc for a couple of months now, I can say that there’s no significant improvements on the user experience when I moved up to the Xperia Arc S. Of course, I think most of you would agree that a 1.4GHz mobile processor still sounds better than a 1.0GHz.

As to why Sony-Ericsson did this move with the Xperia Arc line is still unknown to us and yes, we still have to see a dual-core handset from the manufacturer.

In any case, I think the Xperia Arc and Arc S is among the sexiest Android handsets around with its thin profile and arched back-panel — all the right curves at the right places. It feels a bit plasticky but not plasticky-cheap. It’s very light too at just 117 grams. The 8.7mm profile makes it one of the thinnest handsets around.

It may not have a stand against all the dual-core Android phones around in terms of performance and full HD videos but it can hold its own.

The 4.2-inch display of the Arc S is gorgeous (as in, Coca-cola sexy), bright and crisp. The glossy finish makes it prone to glare in the outdoors but that’s a reality with most handsets and tablets nowadays.

The 233 pixel density of the screen is actually lower than the 245ppi on the much older Xperia X10 but the display quality is way better. Sony-Ericsson attributes that to the Reality Display with the Sony Mobile Bravia Engine. I would say it’s very similar to the quality of SLCD screens.

At the back is the huge lens for the 8MP camera which is flushed way close to the edge of the unit that you’ll always block its view when you start shooting photos. It comes with a small LED flash and a secondary microphone for noise-canceling.

And speaking of the camera, the Arc S has got one of the best cameras in a smartphone I’ve tried (oftentimes besting the camera of the iPhone 4). The sensor is fast and accurate, delivers nice crisp image and well-saturated colors. The built-in Image Stabilization pictures sometimes helps as well.

Here are some sample photos taken from the Xperia Arc S.

There’s also an option to take panoramic photos using Sweep Panorama and even 3D Sweep Panorama which you can later one view on a Sony 3D LED TV. Here’s a sample of a panoramic scene I took.

The panorama shots don’t offer the same detail as the regular shots but they’re pretty decent still (not fit for print, IMO). It would have been more impressive if the image quality were the same though.

You can check out the whole collection of photos in the gallery here. The dedicated button is supposed to make taking photos easier but in this case, it was really hard to press down that I always end up using the on-screen shutter.

The Arc S can only take 720p HD videos and the quality is not as impressive as the photos but still very good. Unfortunately, it does not have a secondary front-facing camera you can use for video calls.

Check out sample video recordings from the Arc S below:

Like many of the handsets in the Xperia line, the Arc S comes pre-installed with Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread with an added layer of UI called TimeScape. It’s simple, fluid and consolidates a lot of your messages in a single stream. Sony-Ericsson also added a few more widgets for customization of the home screens. There’s only 5 home screen and you can no longer adjust that number (unlike in other models where you can pick between 3 to 7).

The native browser is fast and good but you can always download your own favorite browser at the Android Market like Opera Mobile or Dolphin browser. As an Android device, you have access to hundreds of thousands of apps in the Market, half of which are free.

Performance of the Arc S is fairly good but as I mentioned earlier, you would not really significantly feel the difference (for the most part) if you are coming from the original Arc. The additional 400Mhz clock speed does help in some instances like gaming, video and similar tasks.

Quadrant score for the Arc S gave us a 1631 compared to the 1289 for the older Arc. That’s a nice 26% increase in performance for a 400MHz bump in clock speed. Not bad actually.

There were some area in the hardware configuration that we were hoping Sony-Ericsson could have improved on instead — like the 512MB RAM (which is actually just 340MB) and the 1GB internal storage (only 340MB is actually usable).

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S LT18i specs:
4.2″ LCD display @ 480×854 pixels (233ppi)
1.4GHz single-core processor
Adreno 205 GPU
Qualcomm MSM8255T Snapdragon
Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine
512MB RAM
320MB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD (8GB included)
HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, WiFi hotspot
Bluetooth 2.1
8MP autofocus camera w/ LED flash
720p video recording @ 30fps
GPS w/ aGPS support
FM radio tuner
micro-HDMI port
1500 mAh Li-Po battery
Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread

The speakers are found at the lower back end of the handset, just below the iconic SE logo. The audio is fairly loud but since it’s at the back, it often muted when you place it down on any surface. Sound quality is a bit tin-ny at higher volumes and lacks a hit of bass.

Fortunately, that less than expected audio performance was redeemed by the paired in-ear earphones that came in the box. Sony-Ericsson provided a really good pair of comfortable earphones (with a built-in mic) and sound quality was way better with it.

Call quality is good and voice calls are clear but sometimes I find it a bit odd that instead of showing a status “calling”, the dialer says “connecting” as if it’s a 3G call and not a cellular call (a minor thing really).

Sony-Ericsson forgot to bump the capacity of the Li-Po battery to match the increase of the CPU speed and that might affect battery life of the handset. As such, we are experiencing almost similar or sometimes even shorter battery life of one to one and a half days of normal use.

The Xperia Arc S offers a good combination of great design, impressive camera, relatively good gaming & multimedia — over-all, it’s got a pretty good performance. It doesn’t boast the power of most other dual-core handsets but can handle most tasks just the same.

The Sony-Ericsson Xperia Arc S retails for only Php18,700 over at Widget City. It now comes with more variety of colors — pink, blue, black and white. Pretty good deal for such a nice handset.

Disclosure: Widget City provided us with the review unit.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S announced

33 Responses to “Sony-Ericsson Xperia Arc S Review”

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    why my sony xperia arc s battery madaling ma lowbat?! kakainis! tapos yung phone ko nag iinit bakit ganito di siya katulad nang ibang phone kong lagi mo siyang ginagamit di siya iinit..

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