Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc review: Android de Triumph

GSMArena team, 1 April 2011.
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Final words

A year ago it seemed Sony Ericsson’s lack of inspiration was becoming chronic. With delayed updates and boring uniform looks the XPERIA lineup was going nowhere.

But something happened and they’re now keen to make up for lost time: a whole new generation of Android smartphones, new type of displays and camera sensors, the PlayStation phone. They’re even about to unlock the boot loader of the new XPERIA family – something Sony Ericsson have been denying developers for years.

The XPERIA Arc is a big part of that – probably the most important part of the plan. The Arc is Sony Ericsson’s first Gingerbread droid, the first to have the new Reality display and Sony’s new Exmor R camera sensor. They’ve given it the best they have but the tech inside doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s the bold lines and compelling elegance that show Sony Ericsson know how to treat a flagship.

The company’s slimmest smartphone is easily the most beautiful to date. The phone looks so good we’re wiling to forgive some of the design choices that were probably forced on the team: the lens and shutter key placement, the non-hot-swappable memory card slot or the lack of auto brightness control.

The Arc has it all in terms of features: big quality screen, awesome 8 megapixel camera and HD camcorder, the latest Android. Not less important, the phone has a soul and spirit.

Probably the only place it falls short is not being quite as future proofed as a proper flagship should be. It will be a while before dual-core phones start hitting real hard but when they do, the Arc will be vulnerable.

In a few months’ time it will be competing with the likes of the I9000 Galaxy S, which at that point should be running Gingerbread too. The LG Optimus 2X and the Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II will be out of its reach.

The LG Optimus 2X is keen to double the Arc’s bet with a dual-core Tegra2 chipset, but users should be ready to compromise the screen and the premium looks.

LG Optimus 2X
LG Optimus 2X

For both looks and performance, the Samsung Galaxy S II looks like it’s worth the wait. On top of the dual-core processor, powerful graphics chip, huge storage and the new Super AMOLED Plus screen, you’ll get an 8 megapixel snapper with 1080p video recording.

Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II

If the two handsets above are out of the Arc’s league, the smartphones to follow are more or less its equals. Each has a trick up the sleeve and you’d be wise to carefully consider your priorities.

All in all, whether it’s the cameraphone (Nokia N8), or the Super AMOLED droid (Samsung Galaxy S), or the Google Phone (Nexus S), or the Windows 7 phone (HTC HD7) – the Arc could be your handset of choice. A choice you’re unlikely to regret either.

Nokia N8 Samsung I9000 Galaxy S Samsung Google Nexus S HTC HD7
Nokia N8 • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S • Google Nexus S • HTC HD7

In the end though, is the Arc worth it and did Sony Ericsson make a difference? The answer is yes, though not without reserves. The XPERIA Arc more than any other recent phone puts Sony Ericsson back on the map as a premium device manufacturer. And the Arc does command a premium.

Sony Ericsson's own XPERIA Neo costs some good 80 euro less and almost the same feature set sans the exquisite looks. Both offers solid smartphone experience and capable imaging but the Arc's looks tell a story. It's beautiful and powerful and will stay so at least for a few months. Enjoy and don’t let the dual core gang spoil your party. That’s for Sony Ericsson to worry about.

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