Sony Ericsson Xperia arc First Impressions by Darren

Darren Humphries
Columnist from Oshawa, ON Canada
Published: May 9, 2011

arc 1

For the last few days I’ve been playing around with the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc from Rogers Wireless.  This is one slick phone with a super slim profile, 4.2-inch screen, 8-megapixel camera, and lots of other goodness.  I’ll be doing a full review later this week but wanted to give you my first impressions of this Android 2.3 device:

  • It’s thin!  At its slimmest it’s only 8.4mm with a bit more thickness at the top and bottom.  It really gives this a super svelte look but for me it’s almost too thin.  It seems like it’s all screen and initially I was worried it would snap in half in a strong breeze, but it’s plenty tough enough.  The result is a slick looking phone that slips into any pocket...just don’t sit on it. What’s surprising is that this phone doesn’t feel big.  With it’s 4.2-inch screen you would think it would seem huge but it really doesn’t.  Very cool!
  • When you look at and hold the arc it’s hard to believe it has a 4.2-inch screen!  The TFT screen covers most of the front of this Xperia and is a true 16:9 at 854x400 resolution.  Colours look very nice with photos and videos as they are actively adjusted using the Sony BRAVIA graphics engine.  Overall the display is very good but could do with just a bit deeper black.

arc 2

  • Probably the most marketing-worthy feature of the arc is its 8.1-megapixel camera and it certainly does do a nice job.  Colours and contrast are quite good for a phone, but just be aware that your photos may actually look better on your Xperia arc than your computer because of it’s BRAVIA engine: kind of a weird little bit of irony.  Video capture goes up to 720p and looks quite good.  One nice little feature is that touching the screen to focus your picture can also make it snap the picture automatically.
  • Strangely enough the Xperia arc only has a 1GHz Snapdragon processor.  This is really a marquee device for Sony Ericsson, so you would have thought it would be a dual core monster like some of the newest phones from other companies.  Having said that, I haven’t had any problems with the arc in terms of performance.  For most everything it has plenty of pep and doesn’t need much more.

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  • So far, battery life has not been great for me.  Now, that’s probably because I am putting it through its paces but I’m surprised at how quickly the battery drains.  I’ll have to check to see if there is anything in the background that is gulping down all the juice; some widgets are known for being hogs like that.
  • The things I am not crazy about so far: the buttons and the virtual keyboard.  The power button is on the top and is a recessed small round one; it’s hard to quickly find and hard to press.  I realize you don’t want a power button that is overly exposed but this is just kind of nuts.  The camera button is also a bother as it’s hard to press.  The on-screen keyboard is just not good at all. Error correction seems to be all over the place and it’s frustrating to use.  Maybe I’ll get used to it, but so far I don’t like it.
  • One refreshing thing is that Sony’s Timescape UI is no longer front and center, which is a good!  I have not been a fan of Timescape at all, but it’s there for those that do like it.  It certainly does run very smoothly on this phone, I just don’t get why you only want to have one tweet, status or text message showing at a time.  Anyway, it’s not obtrusive at all, so...bonus points!

Despite the minor negative points I do have to say I like the Xperia arc so far.  I love having such a great camera in a phone and a large screen that doesn’t feel huge.  More to come in the full review later this week..