All SMS/MMS communication is organized into threads. Each thread is laid out as an IM chat session, the latest message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them (against deletion).
You can use search to locate a specific message in all conversations. You can also activate delivery reports.
You can add multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.), which will convert the message to an MMS.
Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there’s no unified inbox for other email services.
The generic email app can do that however. It can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes and you have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online.
A preview pane splits the screen in half - one side lists the emails, while the other shows the currently selected email.
This works both in portrait and landscape and you can easily drag the separator between the two areas to make one bigger. Unfortunately, this feature works much better on a tablet than on the Xperia ray's small screen.
Google Talk handles the Instant Messaging department. The GTalk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.
As for text input, the Xperia ray offers a pretty standard keyboard. By default, the portrait mode keyboard is multitap, but you can switch to QWERTY too. Though the tall, narrow screen makes typing on a portrait QWERTY harder than on most phones - at least you have spell correction to sort out minor typos.
Flipping the phone to landscape however tells a whole new story. The on-screen keyboard takes more than most the screen and leaves only two lines for text. It does give you large, easy to tap buttons though.
Haptic feedback can be enabled for the keyboard, which helps improve accuracy.
One addition to the keyboard is a row on top that gives you left/right arrows to move the cursor and a hide keyboard button. You also get the usual "handle" to move the cursor when you tap in the text field. Another tap and hold brings up the copy/cut options.