Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S review: S as in Sophomore

GSMArena team, 14 October 2011.
Pages: 12345678Ľ

Introduction

Raise your hand everybody who at any point these past few months wanted an Xperia arc. Whoa, not bad. Hardly a surprise though. Who wouldn't want it? The Xperia arc is pure class, a daring display of skill and style.


Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S official photos

Now, you might just want to keep those hands up. Cause the Xperia arc keeps on coming. Nothing wrong with Sony Ericsson wanting you to continue to want their top droid. They had more than one way to go about it. Obviously, a price drop wasn't one of them. A facelift? Maybe, if it were any other phone. It's the Xperia arc though and we need to show some respect.


Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S official photos

So, seven months later, Sony Ericsson proceed with the upgrade. An overclocked processor, the latest Android release and some new paint jobs - this is not an upgrade that makes the original obsolete. It's an upgrade nonetheless and we'll treat it as one until proven otherwise.

Letís take a look at an already familiar feature set, shall we?

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM /GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 4.2" 16M-color capacitive LED-backlit LCD touchscreen of FWVGA resolution (480 x 854 pixels) with Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine
  • Android OS v2.3.4 Gingerbread
  • 1.4 GHz Scorpion CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 chipset
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geotagging, 3D Sweep Panorama
  • 720p video recording @ 30fps with continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • microSD slot up to 32GB (8GB card included)
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Voice dialing
  • Adobe Flash 11 support
  • Deep Facebook integration
  • microHDMI port
  • Ultra slim (8.7mm at its thinnest point)

Main disadvantages

  • The competition has dual-core CPUs and better GPUs
  • Display has poor viewing angles
  • No front-facing camera
  • No smart dialing
  • Non hot-swappable microSD card slot
  • Shutter key isnít particularly comfortable

Looking at the specs, the question forces itself on us. Was this necessary? If you already own the Xperia arc, the answer is clearly no. But the Xperia arc S is not for people like you anyway. It isn't its goal to send the company's flagship into retirement. Nor was it forced upon the company by the circumstances. Like the Xperia neo V had to fill in for the original Xperia neo, because of the 8 megapixel sensor shortage after the devastating Japan earthquake.

The Xperia arc S has more to do with publicity rather than adding value. Sony Ericsson are right to want their flagship back into the spotlight. That's what the new version does. Never mind that the familiar deal-breakers are still here.

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S
Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S live pictures

To be fair though, the Xperia arc S comes with Android 2.3.4 out of the box, which the previous Xperia phones released in 2011, will be getting later on. The 2.3.4 update brings some good new stuff:

  • Sony 3D sweep panos: panorama shots that can be rendered on compatible 3D TVs
  • Screen capture - grab a screenshot anywhere on your Xperia
  • Enhanced Facebook integration
  • Swipe text input - works just like the popular Swype, but it's T9 Trace
  • USB on-the-go functionality (requires Sony Ericsson LiveDock)

Google Talk with Video Chat is part of the package too but you won't be able to enjoy it on the Xperia arc S, which doesn't have a front-mounted camera.

Anyway, comparison is not the point. The Xperia arc S is not supposed to better the original Xperia arc. It's not improvement that Sony Ericsson were after, it's repetition. It's been a while since they last had a winner like the Xperia arc. When you do, you want people to know about it.

Well, there'll be plenty of repetition in our review but we can't help it. But still, we guess you're as eager as we are to know how much faster and better the Xperia arc S actually is. Follow us on the next page where the action starts.

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