Sony Ericsson Xperia Active review

Android for the exercising socialite

Sony Ericsson Xperia Active
A rugged Android handset - but it's still smart and modern

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The Sony Ericsson Xperia Active arrives running Android 2.3.4, with Sony Ericsson applying its usual user interface over the top.

Again, the Active sits somewhere in the middle of the company's 2011 mobile phone range, taking the 'four corners' icon system we saw working to such great effect on the Xperia Mini and Mini Pro and teaming it with the Android 2.3.4 software, which has all the same options and nuances found in the much larger Xperia Arc S.

Sony ericsson xperia active

The basic system is Android as usual - five scrolling Home pages that take a mixture of app shortcuts, icons and live widgets...

Sony ericsson xperia active

...and if that's not enough space for all your app shortcuts, Sony Ericsson has stuck a collapsing icon slot in the corner of the screen, each of which can hold an additional four app-launching icons.

Sony ericsson xperia active

Editing these links is simple. Long-pressing on an icon enables you to bin it or pull it out and drop it on to the Home screen. Or, if you're browsing the phone's app listings, holding one of those enables you to pull it into a vacant corner slot.

There's another new little app-dragging feature that arrived in Sony Ericsson's 2.3.4 software update - Facebook sharing. When dragging an icon, a little blue pull-down tab appears along the top of the screen, letting you drop the icon on to it and generate a Facebook status update with a link to the app's Android Market listing.

Sony ericsson xperia active

Sony Ericsson has also included folder support for quite some time. Dragging one app on top of another leads the phone to assume you want to make a folder, so up pops a folder, along with the option to give it a name.

Sony ericsson xperia active

There are also plenty of widgets on the Xperia Active, which are Android's way of adding interactive content to your Home pages. The Favourites & Call Log above is one of the best options, pulling out your favourite contacts and sticking their icons into a grid, with a separate tab showing recent calling activity.

It's well worth donating a Home screen to it, if you're a big user of today's smartphone's legacy phoning features.

Sony ericsson xperia active

If you're not impressed by Sony Ericsson's slightly bland visual approach, there are a few Themes to jazz it up. They're little more than wallpapers that change the Home screen background and add a subtle effect to the Menu pages, but it's a useful option.

And, of course, the phone supports Android's animating Live Wallpapers, although only one, Google's Maps background, comes pre-loaded. It worked without crunching up the phone or causing any drop in performance.