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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc - Apps, Calling, Battery and Verdict

By Edward Chester


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With Android having a vast number of apps available in its Marketplace you can add an almost infinite amount of functionality to this phone and even tweak the interface by adding different keyboards and such like. However, what you get out of the box should be plenty to get you going.

The general messaging experience is excellent with a superb onscreen keyboard, a well presented simple SMS app, and comprehensive email support, as well as included Facebook and Twitter apps. Android's continued inability to zoom in and out of html emails is still rather baffling and the keyboard isn't quite as good as the iPhone but otherwise, this is a great phone for keeping up with all your world's goings on – we particularly like the landscape email layout.

The web browser has Flash support ready from the off, so watching online videos and interacting with flash websites can be done straight away. What's more, the speedy processor means said video plays back surprisingly smoothly. Otherwise, the browser is generally speedy and easy to use. Incidentally, there's no new fangled connectivity on offer here, just standard 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Finding out where to go and how to get there is made easy by included GPS and Google's excellent mapping and navigation services, and of course you can download fully fledged sat nav apps as well. Meanwhile, entertaining yourself en route isn't so easy as the default video app doesn't support much in the way of video files. Instead you'll either have to convert your video files or download another video player. For storing all that music, videos and photos there's a microSD slot, which should come filled with an 8GB card. Sadly there's only 400MB of in-built storage but you can swap out the 8GB card for up to a 32GB one instead

Thankfully, making calls on the Arc throws up no major causes for concern though the speaker is a bit pathetic, with it distorting at full volume, which is slightly odd as it does a decent job when playing video and music. Contacts are also very easy to navitage and are auto populated when you sign into your Google, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Battery life is typical of a modern Android with it practically requiring an overnight charge every other day.

The final consideration for this phone is price, and again we can safely say it hasn't tripped up. At around £400 SIM free, it's pretty much on the money with contracts or £25pm getting you the phone for free.


If you like your smartphones sleek and slim yet still packed with features, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc should be high on your list. It's among the thinnest phones in its class yet packs in a large high quality screen, has a better camera than most – with a shutter button, and has all the connectivity you'd expect of a modern smartphone. Yes, it lacks a dual-core processor but it's still plenty fast enough and is competitively priced. Simply put, it's a great buy.

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April 28, 2011, 10:38 pm

I've had my Arc for a month now, having received it on the day of release. My favourite aspect of the phone is how it manages to pack such a large screen into a relatively small frame. The 16:9 aspect ratio also makes the phone easier to handle, as it cuts down on the phone's width. The camera button is a bonus, but frankly I don't take photos often enough to care that much.

Personally, I would have swapped the camera button for a search button any day. If I had a search button, I wouldn't need Google's search widget on the home screen as a button would make the widget redundant.

And why is the power/sleep button on the top of the phone? It's used constantly, it should be more accessible. The Galaxy S2 appears to have gotten this right by placing this button on the side of the phone, right where your thumb would be.

On the whole though, I'm rather chuffed with this phone.

P.S. @Ed: 'Exmor' is a technology used by Sony in their CMOS sensors. 'Exmoor' is a national park in Somerset and Devon. Just saying :)


April 28, 2011, 11:51 pm

now that phones are being used as mp3 players more and more, I was wondering if you would consider mentioning the sound quality from the headphone jack, like you already do with the built in speaker.
It doesn't have to be anything fancy only a sentance or two, what would be important though is to use some dedicated decent quality earphones (ie not the headset that comes free with the phone), then the overall sound quality from the phone, ie is there any 'white noise' from the phone (like the n95 has),
and finally is it better or worse sound quality than an ipod/iphone (a well known yard stick).

as I say with phones being used as a persons sole mp3 player and the industry actively moving people away from a dedicated mp3 player to a mobile phone mp3 player (apple switching the iphone to the ipod event?) this information would be vastly useful to the review,
then in future you can look to putting a dedicated headphone jack sound quality score exaclty like you do with a mp3 player review.


April 29, 2011, 2:13 am

I've occasionally plugged my SE530s into the Arc. The sound quality is better than I expected from a smartphone, and comparable to my iPod Classic. The equaliser options do a pretty good job of shaping the sound to your tastes. There may be a little more background noise present than what I would expect from a dedicated player, but it shouldn't ruin the experience. By comparison, the background noise generated by my HTC Hero effectively rendered the thing useless as a media player.


May 4, 2011, 2:14 pm

I've had the Arc for about a week now, to replace my HTC Desire. What I like the most about the Arc is the available screen estate vs the phone size. The phone is by no means bulky, and the screen size is awesome. Surfing and typing on the bigger screen is a much better experience than the HTC Desire.

The camera + battery life are other strong points. The decent camera actually makes the phone an excellent pocket camera, if you have good lightning. Battery life is quite good as well, it can last a full day of heavy usage.

The HDMI output is an excellent idea as well. My phone package in France has an included HDMI cable, and it makes the phone a media player in a pinch.

Now, the points of concern:
- The Bravia engine *eats your battery alive*. Turn it off if you care at all about battery life. The engine does make pictures more vibrant and less edgy, but the battery cost makes it hard to justify.
- Wifi reception is weaker than the HTC Desire. My access point's wifi power is on low (less radiation, blah blah); and the Arc has trouble connecting in my bedroom (distance = 15m, through 3 plaster wall). The HTC Desire and my laptop has no trouble connecting, while the Arc occationally loses wifi signal.
- Shiny plastic body means that wiping finger prints off the phone would be part of your usage pattern.

Voila. For me, the phone is a satisfying package, a worthy replacement for my "aging" HTC Desire.


May 4, 2011, 9:58 pm

Screen looks a bit wishy washy, or is that just me?
And does anyone understand what I'm talking about? ...

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