When Sony Ericsson sent me the phone to review, I didn't quite know what to expect. I'd read about the launch of the Xperia Arc alongside the Xperia Play (better known as the PlayStation Phone) and the Play had pretty much stolen the Arc's thunder. When I held the Arc in my hand however, I was surprised as to how incredibly light it was, and how incredibly thin. I used the phone for about 2 weeks so I think I'm in a pretty good position to review the product with all it's positives and negatives.
The screen is powered by what is called the "Bravia Engine." I don't know quite what that entails, but I'm guessing it uses the same sort of technology as found in Sony Bravias. On turning on the device, I was amazed to find an incredibly sharp screen that really was a visual delight! Once I had it set up and going, I found the interface on the device to be smooth, without any stuttering or lag in performance. Previous Sony Ericsson Android Devices have received a lot of flak for having outdated Android operating systems installed, but the Xperia Arc has managed to turn that around and comes pre-installed with Android 2.3 "Gingerbread."
I realized very soon that I wasn't a huge fan of the keyboard that was part of the Android system and decided to dig around to find a way to change it. The thing I love about the Android open system is that while Apple would never agree to have workarounds present in the iTunes store to change the look and feel or usability of the iPhones, Android devices have no such problems. I realized I could download Swype on my device that made my life a LOT easier, and I was good to go. If you don't know what Swype is, click here to check out the video I'd posted of it working on my Samsung Galaxy S.
Sony Ericsson phones usually take full advantage of Sony's technology and is probably why they have the best cameras on any smartphones around. The 8 megapixel camera on this phone works like a charm and takes fabulous pictures! I realized it was pretty useless for you guys for me to just post up pictures I'd taken on my phone, so I'm going to work on taking photographs in varying light conditions with my Arc as well as my iPhone 4 to show you guys side-by-side comparison shots. Check back for that post very soon.
Because it's an Android device, you have access to all the literally thousands of software applications in the Android Market including Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, etc. Since the last time I tested out an Android phone, there seem to be a lot more available games and useful apps made for the OS. Also since then, Amazon has launched it's own Appstore for Android which makes it possible to buy, or download free, all the apps that are available. The paid Android Market apps are not available on phones in the UAE so I think the Amazon appstore would come in handy to be able to do that. However, I didn't test that part out, so I'm not 100%sure on that one.
Like any device, the Xperia Arc is also not without any cons. As I mentioned, the Arc is one of the slimmest smartphones I've ever seen and is also super light. I've read reviews about the phone that talk about this and say the phone feels cheap and plasticy. While this may bother some people, I'm actually quite happy having a device that weighs very little and doesn't feel like a slab of metal. Somehow mentally, I feel like a phone like the Arc would be more able to survive a fall than the solid iPhone 4, which in my head would smash to pieces if it were to fall to the ground. I don't know whether that is true and lucky I've never had my iPhone4 fall and I'm not about to do a test drop with the devices! I just know that the build quality doesn't bother me. What DID bother me however was the battery on this device. While I'd love to be able to give the phone a glowing review with no faults, the truth of the matter is, the limited battery life did give me a few problems. If I was out till late and hadn't had the opportunity to charge my phone, the Arc would just completely die on me- a problem I've never experienced with my iPhone 4. Having said that, the phone does (unlike the iPhones) have a removable battery so a lot of people might choose to swap the battery around, or to plug the phone in their car chargers or at work. I happened to be using the phone during the World Cup during which I was tweeting constantly, taking pictures, calling friends and didn't have access to a charger.
All in all I can safely say that the Xperia Arc is one of the best Android devices I've seen till date. While I've loved the HTC as well as the Samsung Galaxy device in the past, I still remember having to deal with issues like problems changing the on-screen language or alarms going off in the middle of the night. Sony Ericsson always managed to get the design right, as well as the camera which is extremely important to me. The only reason I stopped using the device? Sony Ericsson sent me over the Xperia Play to.. well.. play with!!! I can't WAIT to give you guys my review on the much awaited PlayStation phone! In the meantime, if you have any comments or questions about the Arc, feel free to voice them in the comments below. Hope you found this helpful.