One of the complaints about the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc was (and still is) the pretty woeful battery life. The 1500mAh power pack may have been useful in older phones, but it just couldn't cut it on the Xperia Arc with that vivid screen and hungry thirst for juice.
Indeed, one sales rep at a large high street mobile phone retailer told us: "The phone's great – but I can't lie, the battery's shit". If that's his sales patter, you've really got to worry.
So, we picked up the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray with a slightly heavy heart and prepared to find that Sony Ericsson had fitted it with something pointless like a 400mAh battery due to its size.
We nearly fell off our chairs to discover that this little baby has a 1500mAh unit inside it too – the same as its big brother, but on a screen that's much smaller.
It seemed too good to be true, but you know what? We're really thrilled to say it wasn't. Because here, in the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray, we have an Android handset where we can confidently say the battery life does not completely suck.
Sony Ericsson quotes the talk time as up to 7 hours and standby time as up to 440 hours, depending on your network band type. With moderate use, you'll still probably not get anything more than two full days out of it. But you'll certainly notice it go a long way.
We got some fantastic readings out of our evaluation unit.
We're talking taking it off charge at 7am, some pretty heavy twitter usage for a couple of hours, an eight mile run (using both the RunKeeper software and FM radio simultaneously), about 20 minutes worth of streaming music over Bluetooth to the car stereo, sending about 12 texts and eight emails, plus about 30 mins worth of calls. At this rate, we still had 32% by 7pm.
That's quite commendable since Android smartphones (even Gingerbread handsets) aren't known for being phenomenal with battery. If you barely use the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray, you'll notice it lose about 1% an hour on battery, but these things are always subjective and depend on the strength of your signal and various other factors.
You're pretty connected in every conceivable way with the usual suspects including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and HSDPA/HSUPA included. We weren't overjoyed with the signal strength of the Wi-Fi unit, as we mentioned in the Contacts and calling section of this review, but everything else works as you would expect.
The GPS packs a powerful punch for such a small baby and we managed to get a signal indoors a fair distance from the window within five seconds from a cold start.
HSDPA really does live up to its name, and data flows down from the ether into this handset like molten lava when loading web pages. We still can't get over how bloomin' fast this is at displaying websites.
Bluetooth streamed across to our car stereo with no issues.
Sony Ericsson provides its own remote sync software, which helpfully enables you to sync your contacts with its servers. That's nice of it, but we can't help wonder why bother when Android is based on Google, which offers contacts sync out of the box. Still, it's there if you want it.
NFC is not included on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray – not that we expected it to be. Sony Ericsson is not one of the handset manufacturers pushing the technology down our throats, and obviously doesn't view it as crucial to the Xperia user base.
DLNA is naturally supported (we'd be surprised if it wasn't, since Sony was the firm to bring it to us originally years ago) and helpfully enables you to share your media on the big screen via either a PS3 or supported TV.
We think it's restricted to Sony Bravia units, because we struggled with our Samsung TV. However, getting it connected to the PlayStation was a dream, and we were very pleased to be able to bore friends with our holiday snaps in glorious Technicolor!