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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S - Hardware Features and Interface

By Edward Chester



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The mere presence of a button for the camera is also a huge boon. The impact of this is diminished somewhat now that Apple has added the ability to use the volume button on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 to take a shot – it used to be a nice quantifiable and genuine advantage of other phones over Apple's devices – but it's still good to see it present. Unlike the iPhones' the button on the Arc S can also be used to launch the camera app. However, the button itself is so small and stiff that it's actually a bit awkward to use, especially with the body of the phone being so thin, but as it's there at all it's still worthy of praise.

Similarly the power button is small and fiddly, and is on the top edge where it's difficult to reach one handed, all of which makes locking your phone's screen a little more awkward than we'd like. Thankfully the Home button underneath the screen can be used to unlock the screen so you can gain access to your phone quickly and easily with just one hand.

Just finishing off our tour of this phone's physical features, alongside the earpiece are an LED indicator, to show when you've got a message or the phone is charging, and the proximity sensor for turning the screen off when you're on a call. Below the screen are the three main navigation buttons (Back, Home and Menu) which are physical rather than touch sensitive. Their low positioning makes them a little difficult to reach but this does allow more room for the screen.

The right is home to a rather small volume rocker and the back houses the camera, noise cancelling microphone and mono speaker. Finally, on the bottom is a lanyard loop alongside the main microphone.

Moving onto this phone's interface, it runs Android 2.3.4 which along with the faster processor is the only thing that currently separates it from its predecessor that runs 2.3.3. We say currently as there will be an update rolled out to the older handsets that will bring them up to date.

There aren't a huge number of extra features or even stylistic changes in this new version but there are a few titbits.

Starting from the top, though, this is an Android phone so the first thing you're greeted with is a host of homescreens ready to fill with shortcuts and widgets. You get five screens in total and when you get the handset you'll find all of them have at least one example widget or shortcut, the majority of which we rapidly removed due to being a bit useless.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S 5

One such example is Sony Ericsson's Timescape widget. This shows a stream of messages and updates from your social networking services as well as missed calls and text messages (you can even download extra plugins for it for such services as Foursquare). However, the presentation of Timeline has always been and remains poor. With the processor update it is at least slick and fast now but the whole vertical scrolling carousel styling is a pig to use.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S 4

Other widgets include a TrackID tool for quickly listening to the world around you to pick out what song's playing, Music and Video Unlimited links for quickly accessing Sony's music and video download and streaming services, a data usage monitor and the ever useful quick switches for turning on/off wi-Fi, 3G data, Bluetooth and switching to a low brightness mode.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


October 25, 2011, 5:24 pm

I haven't even read the review but am bewildered as to why the first page does not give a price for this phone and the date of the review is 1st September!

In addition, how do we feed back issues with the reviews and website now? I sent an email to the web master but didn't get a reply and it seems there are common annoyances that are preventing us from making these comments sections really useful e.g.

1) Why do I have to log in every day?
2) Can I get an update when someone has replied to or added to the thread?
3) Can we see comments on the mobile site?


October 25, 2011, 5:52 pm

I'm not actually sure why the price isn't appearing. I guess that's a new bug...

As to the whole comments section, I'm afraid we're stuck with this system for a while yet, though alternatives are being looked at. All the things you want have long since been requested by the writing team as well, I can assure you.


October 25, 2011, 7:57 pm

I don't know why but I find the recent Sony phones just plain ugly! they just look a bit cheap and uninspiring.
Saying that, I think most smartphones are just boring bricks nowadays.
No company's take any risks in design anymore...

Ed, thanks for taking the time to reply to Orinj, its nice to know people are listening.

Ala Miah

October 25, 2011, 11:45 pm

If you want to save 2-30 quid just go for the Arc, it's great. Also worth noting it will get ice cream sandwich update in 2012 so you will have the latest google toy to play with.

This phone is great for watching tv shows and films on the widescreen as the quality is excellent. I bought it for this reason alone.

p.s how difficult is it to put in some code to store a cookie on the local machine so it remembers you're login? literally takes 2 mins for a web developer yet hasn't been done since site launched! Pathetic!


December 8, 2011, 3:32 am

All other things aside concerning the Xperia Arc, if you're looking for an Android phone and scheduling is important to you, you definitely want to avoid buying this device. There is simply no way to edit a single entry in a repeating series without altering the entire series. Following 2 weeks of correspondence with Sony Ericsson and 3 update downloads which didn't help at all, the company finally admitted they had nothing to correct this serious, basic deficiency and had no plans to do so. Every other half-decent PDA device - even cheaper, less sophisticated ones - provides this option. Other Android manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung claim that their smartphones include this scheduling option, so if you're into the business end of an Android smartphone, keep away from the Arc.

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