The all-plastic Sony Ericsson Xperia ray stands at 111 x 53 x 9.4 mm and tips the scales at 100 grams sharp.
Designwise, there seem to be two schools of thought in the Sony Ericsson Xperia family. The Xperia Arc, the Neo and the Play are based on the same concept, while the Xperia ray belongs with the new Mini and Mini pro.
Although the ray isn't modeled after the flagship Arc, we have to say we like the sleek sharp lines and the minimalist intensity of the styling. The big hardware Home key plus capacitive Back and Menu keys has its advantages over a strip of three buttons, for both looks and usability.
The Xperia ray will be available in standard Black and White colors plus Gold and Pink. We're dealing with the Black version here and it's quite the looker. It's not a retail-ready unit so there's a chance the look might change slightly.
The front of the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray is almost completely covered by scratch resistant glass that will protect the 3.3" Reality display and the rest of the phone's face. The rear surface is matte plastic, which is good to the touch.
Speaking of the display, it has FWVGA resolution (480 x 854 pixels), for a 16:9 aspect ratio. It's smaller than you would expect of a 3.3" screen due to the wider aspect. Still, the high resolution gives it 297ppi pixel density. Numbers aside, the graphics look really smooth.
The Mobile Bravia engine promises enhanced contrast and colors and from what we've seen so far on previous models, we're inclined to agree. Still, the display is not too bright overall, which reduces sunlight legibility, and also suffers from some contrast and color loss when viewed at an angle.
Above the screen is the usual lineup of an earpiece, proximity and ambient light sensors and the front-facing camera. Below the screen is the hardware Home key flanked by capacitive Back and Menu keys.
The Home key is a bit stiff but it got our attention with the illuminated strip around it. It can glow in different colors - white, red, green and blue. This has great potential - if the software puts it to proper use. So far what we've noticed is during charging it glows orange and it turns to green once ready.
The left and right sides of the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray are not terribly busy. The left houses the microUSB port (uncovered), which doubles as a charger plug and on the right we have the volume rocker. It's small, thin and not very comfortable to use.
On top there's the Power/Lock key in the middle, which is small, rounded and comfortable to press (though not prone to accidental presses), and the 3.5mm audio jack.
At the bottom there's the mic pinhole and the lanyard eyelet, plus a small groove to put a fingernail under and pull the back cover open.
The back of the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray is flat and the battery cover is made of soft matte plastic.
The star of the show here is, of course, the 8MP camera lens with its trusty friend, the LED flash, right next to it. The flat rear surface however gives the lens virtually no protection against scratches.
The loudspeaker grill is at the bottom side of the back and there's the Sony Ericsson logo just next to it. The logo protrudes ever so slightly so the loudspeaker doesn’t lay on the table directly, but it still gets muffled when you place the phone flat. The secondary microphone is near the camera/flash duo.
The microSD card slot is under the battery cover and it's obstructed by the battery, so you have to switch the phone off every time you want to swap the microSD card. It's the same story with the SIM card but that's not such a big issue.
Speaking of the battery, Sony Ericsson have managed to fit a massive 1500mAh battery in the slender frame of the Xperia ray. This should give the phone enough juice for up to nearly 18 days of standby (in 2G, a bit more in 3G) and almost 7 hours of talk time (in 2G, exactly 7 hours in 3G). The battery is also good for 36 hours of non-stop music.
Having handled so many 4+ inch phones, they were starting to feel normal but the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray surly reminds us of what regular-sized handsets feel like. While the 16:9 3.3" is a tad on the small side, it's beautiful to look at and makes for great ergonomics and pocketability. The build feels pretty solid, even the plastic back cover is not too thin or flimsy (which is a common problem with thin phones).