Below the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc display we find the same three keys as on the X10. You get a Back button, a Home key that brings up recently used apps tab upon a long press and a Menu key.
The three keys we mentioned are all well defined, so even if a bit thin, they’re unlikely to pose a problem.
Above the display we find the proximity sensor and the earpiece. Sony Ericsson initially claimed there should also be an ambient-light sensor present here, but automatic brightness control was not enabled on either this test handset or the pre-release unit we had earlier.
The left side of the XPERIA Arc holds the 3.5mm standard audio jack.
The tiny power key and the microHDMI port are on top of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc. The power key is too small to be comfortable, though being slightly raised helps a bit. It certainly takes some time getting used to.
Unfortunately, an HDMI cable isn’t supplied in the box so you will need to grab one yourselves if you are into streaming your photos and videos to an HDTV.
The XPERIA Arc’s microUSB port is in the top right corner with a status LED above. The thin volume rocker is below and the miniscule camera key is all the way at the bottom. Considering the solid imaging potential of the XPERIA Arc we would have definitely preferred a larger and more convenient shutter key. This one is too small and placed too close to the corner. On a second thought however, most of the Arc’s direct competitors don’t even have a camera key (think iPhone 4, Optimus 2X and Galaxy S II).
What we are more concerned with is the location of the 8 megapixel camera lens on the back. Too close to the edge, it is extremely likely to get covered by a finger when holding the handset in a position to shoot. You have to be extremely careful not to ruin your shots. That’s a problem with the iPhone 4 too.
The loudspeaker grill is the other thing of note at the back. It’s placed on the other end of the backplate and due to the phone’s curved design it won’t get muffed too easily.
Removing the battery cover reveals the non-hot-swappable microSD slot, the SIM slot and the second microphone pinhole, used in active noise cancelation during calls.
The Arc’s battery capacity is 1500 mAh and it’s said to last for up to 430 hours of stand-by or up to 7 hours of talk time.
In actual usage, we managed to squeeze just over two days of moderate-to-heavy use (a few calls, an hour of browsing and an hour of gaming per day plus the occasional shot).
In conclusion, the general handling of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc is decent, though the sleek design poses some usability questions. The tiny shutter key, the non-hot-swappable microSD card and the lack of auto-brightness are our biggest grudges with the Arc.
The inward curve makes the handset pretty comfortable to hold. It doesn’t sit as nicely in your hand as the Sony Ericsson smartphones that use the human curvature design (outward curve), but the phone’s suave elegance more than makes up for that.