Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Sony Xperia Arc

Sony-Xperia_arc_Black.jpgNEW DELHI: Rarely (make that "never") have we seen so many features in a device that is so slim and stunning to look at. Although mainly made of plastic, the Xperia Arc is a sight for sore eyes. 

The front is dominated by the 4.2 inch, 854 x 480 pixel (jargon alert) Reality Display, powered, we are told, by the Sony Bravia Engine. SuperAMOLED it is not, but it is remarkably clear and bright. 

There are three metal buttons beneath the display for menu, home and back — no search button here, much to our surprise. There is a metallic accent along the sides which houses the volume rocker, the dedicated camera button, the micro USB port and headset jack, while the top houses the power and screen on/off buttons and a microHDMI port. 

But impressive though the front and side is, it is the back that is breathtaking —arching inwards to give the device an incredible 8.7mm thickness at its thinnest point and housing an 8.1-megapixel camera lens with single LED flash. 

There is a fair bit inside the sleek casing — a Qualcomm MSM 8255 processor, which combines a 1 Ghz processor with Adreno graphics, 512 MB RAM, 320 MB onboard memory (an 8GB card is bundled with the package ) and stacks of connectivity options. The phone tips the scale at a mere 117 grams — quite a feat! Powering all this is Android 2.3, over which Sony Ericsson has placed its skin with the Timescape for social networking alerts on your homescreen. 

Honestly, we are not great fans of Timescape as the cool factor of flicking through your latest updates wears out soon. The large screen is terrific for reading, browsing the Net, viewing videos and even for tweaking images. Sony Ericsson has also thrown in a document viewer (QuickOffice). 
Sound quality was excellent when it came to playing music, but for some reason, seemed to fade while making calls, even with the volume maxed out. We occasionally had to strain our ears a bit to find out what the person on the line was saying. 

Where the Arc really shines is in the camera department. It has numerous shooting options and the results, especially in daylight, border on the brilliant with sharp images and almost life-like colours. Credit for this goes to the mobile CMOS sensor in the camera — a rare case of specs being backed up by performance. 

HD (720p) video was very good too and on par with what we had seen on the Nokia N8. We could not find much fault with the Arc, except the plastic construction and tiny buttons. And of course, there is the "charge-a-day" syndrome that affects all Android handsets, when all notifications — from mail to news to social networks — are running. 

At 28,500, the Arc is not exactly cheap and goes up against some very stiff competition, especially from HTC, which has the likes of the Desire HD and Incredible S with similar specs (the Desire HD has a bigger display), although neither's camera or appearance can hold a candle to that of the Arc. 

And that really sums up the Arc's main strength — it's a terrific option for those who want a good-looking smartphone with a terrific camera. Android finally has a shooter!

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