Stylish upgraded smartphone one of thinnest on the market

Sony-EricssonXperia Arc S has more going for it than just its classy looks — it’s also faster, says Noel Campion

THE Sony-Ericsson Xperia Arc S is one of the best looking mobile phones out there, but looks are not the only good thing about this device.

The main upgrade the Arc S has over the original Arc is a faster 1.4GHz processor which is significantly faster than the 1.0GHz of the Arc. Why go to all the trouble of upgrading the process in their flagship Arc S and not make it a dual core is puzzling but no doubt that will come in the Arc 2? I really love the look and feel of the Arc S as it weighs in at just 117 grams.

It’s also one of the thinnest phones available at 8.7mm, and although the back is made of thin plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap. The 4.2-inch screen is average for an Android smartphone these days, but it is both bright and crisp in part thanks to the 233 pixel density and the Sony Reality Display with the Sony Mobile Bravia Engine.

I did a lot of testing and comparing this screen against the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Sensation and found that the colours were natural and bright but the viewing angles were nowhere near as good as either of the other two.

If you tilt the screen too much the colours become washed out, but in general use this doesn’t distract too much from a screen that is otherwise fantastic to use.

Sony-Ericsson are known for their excellent cameras and the Arc S sports an 8MP camera with a LED flash and a secondary microphone for noise-cancelling. The sensor is fast and accurate, delivers nice crisp image and well-saturated colours.

The built-in Image Stabilisation is a big help in taking good snaps, but extra features you won’t see in any other phone is the option to take 3D Sweep Panorama photos which you can later one view on a Sony 3D LED TV. This is a great feature — if you have a 3D TV to show it off with! The dedicated button is handy but I found you had to press it a little too hard to take the shot, making it difficult not to shake.

Image quality is excellent in ideal lighting conditions, but even lowly lit environments produced surprisingly good shots with impressive levels of noise.

Disappointingly the upgraded Arc S only supports 720p HD video, and although the quality is good it isn’t on a par with the still shots. Most other phones in this bracket have gone with 1080p HD video.

And, like the original Arc, the Arc S still doesn’t have a front facing camera for video calls. This is another strange omission which may turn some potential buyers right off this phone — there are so many more reasons now for using video calls than there were over 10 years ago when it first came out.

The one thing I do like is that the Arc S comes with a mini-HDMI port and cable for connecting it to a HD TV. This is great for photo slideshows, or showing off your latest videos. It works very well by mirroring on your TV what’s on the phone.

Arc S is a fully fledged Android phone with Gingerbread 2.3.4 pre-installed with Sony Ericsson’s Timescape UI bolted on top. If you don’t like Timescape you don’t have to use it, but It’s simple, fluid and consolidates a lot of your messages in a single stream. Sony-Ericsson also added a few more widgets for customisation of the home screens. There’s only 5 home screen and you can no longer adjust that number, which is a pity as this is possible with other Android phones. Still most users won’t need the extra screens.

Call quality is pretty good and the external speaker is adequate for both calls and listening to music, although it lacks bass like most smartphones. The supplied in-ear headphones are excellent for both calls and listening to the radio or music — good bass and sound clarity.

The overall performance boost with the faster processor is evident in general use, but more significantly in gaming, video and even simple things like taking a photo.

I don’t think there’s enough of a reason for an existing Arc user to upgrade, but those looking for a stylish smartphone will look good with the Arc S in a choice of pink, blue, silver or white.

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