Sony Xperia acro S review: Daring droid
The retail box features a dock
The retail box of the Sony Xperia acro S is slightly different from what we had for our preview. Inside is a rather large GreenHeart charger, which pairs with the microUSB cable to charge the phone. An in-ear headset is also available, with two extra sets of earbuds in the box.
You'll also find a dock, which you can use for placing the Xperia acro S on your desk or night stand. It's nicely build but offers little in terms of functionality - there are no HDMI ports, 3.5mm jacks or battery charging compartments on it - just a microUSB plug that can only be used to charge the device. Nonetheless, a stand is a nice accessory, but one that few people would actually pay extra for, so it's good that Sony included it in the package.
Sony Xperia acro S 360-degree spin
The Sony Xperia acro S measures 126 x 66 x 11.9 mm and weighs 147g. That's rather thick and heavy for a phone with a 4.3" screen, but at least it has that IP certification and reasonably large battery to show for it.
Design and build quality
It's easy to recognize that the acro S is a member of the Sony Xperia family. It may lack the transparent stripe, characteristic to the NXT lineup, but its design is the familiar combination of right angles and curves. There's also the SONY logo styled with the company's instantly recognizable font to give away the smartphone's allegiance.
We really like how the Sony Xperia acro S looks - the absent transparent element has cost it some character, but has given it a more serious look, which many will certainly appreciate. The high quality build materials also help the aesthetics, but we have to deduct a few points for the rather thick waistline. With a 4.3" screen the nearly 12mm thickness might not be a deal-breaker in terms of usability, but it hurts the high-end feel a bit.
Above the screen of the smartphone you get the earpiece, flanked by the front-facing camera lens and the proximity sensor. An ambient light sensor is also available to take care of automatic brightness adjustment here, while a LED light glows red or green depending on charge status and blinks whenever there's something that requires your attention.
Below the screen, there are three the three capacitive keys (Back, Home and Menu) typical of the Xperia lineup. Just like on the Xperia S, the capacitive keys are big enough, but they've been tweaked to require a proper press rather than a light touch, which benefits usability once you get used hitting them with a little more force.
The three wired ports - microUSB, 3.5mm and microHDMI - are on the top of the phone. They are all hidden under plastic flaps to keep dust and water away.
The right side of the Sony Xperia acro S holds a trio of controls - the power key, the volume rocker, and the dedicated shutter key. Sadly both the power key and the camera button are on the thinner end of the side, which makes them a bit hard to use. We still prefer an imperfect shutter key to no key at all, so Sony is actually doing a bit better than the competition here.
The volume rocker isn't that great either - its move is rather short and the feedback isn't good, so it will take some getting used to.
On the left side of the Sony Xperia acro S we find the microSD and the SIM card slots. Once again, there are protective covers over them, but this time they tend to cause some issues. While the microSD cards are relatively easy to operate for people with smaller hands, the push-to-pop mechanism might be hard to access by anyone with larger fingers.
The SIM slot is even worse - you need to use you nail to drag out the tray where you insert the card. And that's hardly comfortable for anyone but ladies with long nails.
The bottom is pretty boring compared to the rest of the phone. It features only a lanyard eyelet which is accessible through a removable bottom portion of the back panel.
The back of the Sony Xperia acro S features one of the stars of the show - the 12MP camera lens. It's located in a busy area in the top half of the smartphone - the loudspeaker grille, LED flash, and NFC chip are right next to and so is the secondary microphone.
The back cover is made of soft matte plastic, which feels good and hides fingerprints well. Behind it sits a 1910 mAh battery, which is rated at up to 290h of stand-by on 2G networks (310h on 3G) or 6h and 40 mins of talk time (7h 10 min on 3G). Those are all decent numbers, but the battery isn't user-accessible, so carrying a spare battery isn't an option and neither is replacing your unit when it starts to get worn out.
Update, September 11: We put the Xperia acro S through our battery test and found it to be average. It can last just over 36 hours on a single charge. If you decide to drain the battery with calls only, it will take you a bit over 7 hours (on a 3G network). Doing the same with web browsing takes 5 hours 15 minutes or you can watch 5 hours and 40 minutes of video. You can learn more about our testing procedure over here and the full battery test write-up over here.