All the smartphone hype at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was about dual core models like the Motorola Atrix but making just as strong an impression on us was the single-core Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.
Ostensibly just another Android smartphone with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 512MB RAM, 480 x 854 pixel screen, and 8-megapixel camera, it doesn't wow just from looking at the spec sheet, but once you use it its charms quickly come to the fore.
Most obvious of the Arc's qualities is its design. At just 8.7mm thick it is noticeably slimmer than a fair chunk of the competition, and the curved design on the metal back both looks and feels great. Packing in a 4.2in screen, its 125mm x 63mm height and width could prove a little large for some but overall it’s a very nice device to handle.
A single slab of glass covers the front section, but unlike some it doesn't incorporate touch-sensitive buttons but. Instead it has three slim physical buttons nestled below the screen. While we're not averse to touch-buttons per se, which do actually prefer physical ones for practical reasons, particularly as it means you can activate the screen without having to reach for the power button on the top.
Also up top is a mini-HDMI port for hooking the phone up to your telly while the left side adds a headphone socket – we'd prefer this to be either on the top or the bottom so it doesn't snag on your pocket when headphones are attached. The right is home to a camera button, volume rocker and microUSB while the bottom adds the all essentially lanyard loop.
All told, whether choosing the black or silver versions, this is a classy looking, well built device that we'd certainly be happy to whip out in public. The only possible complaint is that its 117g weight is deceptively low, giving it a slightly flimsy impression.
The 4.2in LCD screen is superb. It uses Sony's new Reality Display technology which eliminates one of the layers required in the manufacturing process. Combined with the Mobile Bravia engine it results in great black levels, vibrant colours and very good viewing angles. The 480 x 800 pixel resolution is nothing exceptional but it's typical of the genre and entirely adequate.
Inside you'll find 8GB of onboard storage, while a microSD slot will let you expand this by another 32GB.