Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S review

A minor phone processor update or an essential Android refresh?

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S
Android 2.3.4 and a faster processor feature on the new smartphone

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Sony ericsson xperia arc s

We liked the original Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc very much indeed. This is almost exactly the same, so we like this a lot too.

For owners and fans of the original Xperia Arc, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S is way too similar to the original phone to recommend upgrading to. But the software updates are useful and the processor boost a welcome if mostly undetectable enhancement, making this upgraded Xperia Arc a very good buy for anyone after a sleek, high-performance smartphone.

We liked

The 4.2-inch screen is about as good as it gets. It's between this and the legendary Samsung Galaxy S2 when it comes to the best brightness and colour reproduction on a mobile phone, with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S's Reality Display a constant joy to read on and poke.

The camera app is very fast and full of features. The resulting shots perhaps aren't quite as good as they could be, but for versatility, ease of use and features the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S camera is a winner.

Sony Ericsson's developers are on fire when it comes to Android enhancements. Compared to the excellent original Xperia Arc, this newer 2.3.4 software features even more social features, loads of tiny usability and visual tweaks, plus a great clone of the Swype line-drawing keyboard.

We disliked

The 720p video isn't amazing in terms of picture quality. The frame rate is solid and smooth, but the clips lack some clarity and detail. For a high-end Android device, it's not quite up there with the higher-quality 1080p-capable handsets.

Sony Ericsson's approach to widget design is a bit random. There's no coherent feel to it, the powerstrip replacement buttons are too big, with many of the widgets making the screens look rather messy when placed next to each other.

The slim phone means slim buttons. Finding the power button requires a small amount of mental focus, while the tiny camera shutter and volume rockers would benefit from being pumped up a little.

Final verdict

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S is a slim, bright, powerful Android smartphone that shows off the mobile operating system to its very best. The screen is fantastic and the processor and memory perform well enough to keep the Android experience running smoothly and quickly.

However, the hardware upgrade in here isn't really noticeable at all. We never felt the original Xperia Arc was in any way underpowered or slow, so the 1.4GHz upgrade seems a bit pointless.

It's a lovely phone, but if the launch of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S means the original Xperia Arc starts selling for a big discount, you'd be just as well of picking that one up instead. Both are excellent mobile phones.