The Sony Ericsson Xperia Active is a perfectly nice little smartphone, which isn't compromised in any way because of its outdoor/sporty ambitions.
The Android 2.3.4 software is packed with functionality and extra features added as part of Sony Ericsson's user interface, with the phone featuring a good camera, decent enough 720p video output and generally smooth, hassle-free operation all round.
The capacitive water-resistant screen is very sensitive to the touch, with no noticeable slowness or hindrance caused by its waterproofing and 'wet finger' sensitivity.
Sony Ericsson's Android customisations are nice, for the most part, adding in little animations, user-friendly icon dragging and dropping features, Facebook stuff all over the place and hiding away many more clever touches to discover.
It really is waterproof. The very last thing we did when compiling this review, just in case, was dunk it in the sink for a few minutes. It survived. Everything still works. The rubbery stoppers and secondary internal case do the job.
The low-end screen resolution of 320 x 480 means text isn't as sharp as it is on many other Android smartphones today. It's not unreadable and does work well in outdoor light, but if you do a lot of reading the slight blotchiness may become an annoyance.
Despite its toughness claims, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active feels rather light and plasticky. We haven't exactly tested it to destruction, but it doesn't feel like a tough, outdoor phone. Plus the plastic buttons around the edges, and the camera button in particular, seem rather flimsy.
Media playback is once again a weak point on a Sony Ericsson phone. You won't be copying across your AVI film collection to this one, not without converting everything to MP4 beforehand.
It's another good performer from Sony Ericsson. The Xperia Active is little more than the company's Xperia Mini in a chunky, water-resistant case, but if that's what you want... this is it.
We're used to 'outdoor' mobile phones coming in awful shells and lacking features, but that's not the case here. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Active is a fast, usable, modern smartphone, that just so happens to be a bit better sealed off from rain and coffee than most.
If you want a perfectly capable, cute, light and small phone that's waterproof and doesn't compromise on performance, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active's a fine choice. Your only choice, but still a perfectly good one.