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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S - Interface and Performance

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

More useful additions from Sony Ericsson include the ability to take a screenshot by holding down the Power button and selecting the option from the popup.

The Swype-like trace-to-type keyboard is also very welcome. It works by predicting what word you were aiming for by tracking the movement of a single finger as it vaguely moves from letter to letter in one motion. It doesn't have quite as good prediction as Swype but we actually preferred it as it doesn't otherwise interfere with the normal two-handed typing experience – Swype uses a slightly different keyboard layout and can be thrown off if you type at speed with two thumbs.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

Perhaps the two most crucial additions, though, are the Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited services. These tap into Sony's huge entertainment divisions to provide music download and streaming services for music and movies. Setting up Music Unlimited is cumbersome as you have to go to the Music Unlimited website to create an account before you can use the app, and you have to be a premium subscriber too. Once done the interface is slick and easy to use and the selection is impressive, as it is for the video selection. However, with many new movies costing £11.99 to download, it's not quite the revolution in streaming media one might have hoped for.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S 7Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S 8

Boosting the processor speed of the Arc S from 1GHz to 1.4GHz hasn't resulted in a hugely noticeable improvement in performance over its predecessor but it's just about enough to keep tabs with the competition. General navigation is snappy and apps open promptly, with just a little less pause for thought than the slower model. However, it's notably not on par with dual-core models so if you're looking for the snappiest performance then you're better off with those handsets.

Part of the problem, however, is Android, which still doesn't feel quite as slick and integrated as iOS, Windows Phone or even the latest BlackBerry OS. It is actually faster than many of these as it does away with some of the fancier animations as you move from one task to the other, but equally some of these animations are what make for a smooth journey through using your device. It's all subtle stuff but especially now that iOS 5 is out, the arrival of Android 4.0 can't come soon enough as it should bring smoother graphics and even tighter, more integrated features.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

Still, Android and the Arc S does have some distinct advantages. The web browser supports Flash so can play back videos embedded in webpages, and the extra processor speed means playback is generally smooth. You also get an FM radio and much easier multimedia file management than iOS. Well, it's easier if you're prepared to just drag and drop your files onto the device rather than use iTunes.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Orinj

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?

Ed

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.

Sapporodan

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!

yadan

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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