Sony Ericsson Xperia active review: The Rainmaker

GSMArena team, 03 November 2011.
Pages: 12345678»

Introduction

Flick it, kick it, throw it, wet it. Drag and drop it. And watch it come back for more. The Sony Ericsson Xperia active is a survivor. The rugged smartphone has a Bravia Reality display and exchangeable covers, 1GHz of oomph and HD video, and plenty of sporty apps. It's got you - tucked under an arm strap. It goes wherever you go.

Durable smartphones are becoming an Android-exclusive niche and Sony Ericsson want in. But the Xperia active believes that an IP67-certified phone doesn't have to be all muscle and no charm.

The Xperia active is a cute little phone - the action-scene body double of the Xperia mini. Go ahead, laugh it up, Sonim. This is a phone that doesn't take much pocket space, which is a big plus in our book. And no, they don’t have to be cargo pockets either.


Sony Ericsson Xperia active

The IP67-certified Xperia active is supposed to withstand water immersion in up to a meter for as long as half an hour. It's also dust-proof and shock-resistant. Before you ask, we're not going to test it to the very limit of endurance. Like we said, some real heavy duty rugged phones can sneer all they want. It's just that a compact sporty smartphone for both urban and wilderness hikes may as well have the last laugh.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 3.0" 16M-color LED-backlit LCD capacitive touchscreen of HVGA resolution (320 x 480 pixels) at around 192 ppi
  • Bravia Mobile engine
  • Dust and water resistant, wet-finger tracking
  • Dual back cover design for increased protection
  • Arm case and wrist strap in the bundle
  • Android OS v2.3 Gingerbread
  • 1 GHz MSM8255 Snapdragon processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 5 MP autofocus camera, single LED flashlight, Geo-tagging, image stabilization, smile detection, touch focus
  • 720p video @ 30fps
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot functionality and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS, Wisepilot navigation
  • microSD slot (32GB supported, 2GB card included)
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor, notification LED
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • TrackID music recognition
  • Relevant package of apps
  • MicroUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Adobe Flash 10.3 support
  • 1200mAh Li-ion battery

Main disadvantages

  • No secondary camera, no video calls
  • No smart dialing
  • Loudspeaker has below average performance
  • Typing is uncomfortable on the small screen
  • No DivX/XviD support

The Xperia active has the specs and looks of an Xperia mini. What you get is a full-featured smartphone with some high-end ingredients like the Reality Display, Snapdragon processor and HD video. It's a phone for an active lifestyle - it's got the proper build and the right set of apps. Sony Ericsson did not skimp on the in-box accessories either.

The Xperia active doesn't quite look the typical rugged phone, no ribbed hardened rubber case. It's definitely sporty though and the compact size more than makes sense for a handset you’re likely to take on jogs or bike rides.

Se Xperia Active Camera Se Xperia Active Camera
The Sony Ericsson Xperia active live shots

With Sony Ericsson planning to focus exclusively on smartphones, they know they need to add more variety to their lineup. That includes distinctly niche phones like the Xperia active. Keeping an eye on the competition is a good thing too. The Xperia active seems to fit comfortably between a Samsung Galaxy S5690 Xcover and a Motorola Defy+. And being the smallest of the bunch isn't necessarily a bad thing. They don't call it survival of the biggest, right?

So, the Xperia active is the kind that thrives on action. Let's get busy then and see what the rugged droid is really made of.

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