The Sony Ericsson Xperia ray makes no changes to the software borrowed from the Arc and the Neo. What it means is you get Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread with a very polished custom skin and a nice package of apps.
We have a video of the user interface in action, which is a good starting point.
The Xperia ray has a five pane homescreen (you can't add or delete panes), with four docked shortcuts (two on either side of the launcher shortcut). Those are visible on all five homescreen panes and are user configurable: they can be either single icons or folders with multiple items in them.
The homescreen also does a neat trick called Overview mode. Pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homescreen panes and a new screen opens up with a cool transition. All your widgets gather there and you can click the one you want and go to its screen.
In terms of functionality, it’s similar to the HTC Leap view or what Samsung do in TouchWiz. However widgets here are not crammed in small hard-to-read screens. Instead, they’re all shuffled on a single screen, so they can better use the space and remain as big as possible.
The Xperia ray has some custom-made Sony Ericsson widgets in addition to the standard set. Those include the Timescape widget (there's a dedicated app too) and a Mediascape-like widget for photos and videos (the actual app isn't there anymore, the standard gallery is back).
The app launcher puts shortcuts in the bottom corners. They let you sort your icons within the grid. You can either go for the automatic options (alphabetical, most used or recently installed) or you can manually shuffle the icons.
Creating folders is simple, using the iOS logic (and visual layout). You drag one icon over another and a pop-up prompts you to select an icon and a name for the folder you’re about to set up.
The lockscreen is standard Xperia fare. Which means you get notifications for Facebook events too. The standard notification area and task switcher are of course present and accounted for.
The Snapdragon chipset has been around for a while and we know what to expect from it in terms of performance. Sony Ericsson already used this setup in several of their phones and the Xperia ray is on par with the Arc and the Neo. The results are virtually identical, within the usual benchmark margin of error. Looking back at some of our other benchmarks, the Xperia ray even manages to outperform old high-enders like the Samsung Galaxy S.