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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S - Multimedia, Calling and Verdict

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Video playback support on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S is only decent compared to other Androids, with only our MP4 files playing back in the default media player, and divx, mkv and mov all failing to play – you can of course download other players but hardware support for these is variable. In contrast the Samsung Galaxy S 2 will play most video file types straight out of the box. Those that do play do look amazing, though, thanks to Sony Ericsson's Bravia video playback enhancements – colours pop, dark detailing is good, and motion is smooth.

If you want to shoot your own video, the camera will oblige with 720p HD Ready footage running at 30fps. This is a step down from the 1080p offered by some of the most high-end phones but it's plenty enough resolution to capture the moment. In terms of quality it's a little better than average with a decent level of detail and steady smooth action. It does, however, lack dynamic range and can get pretty noisy pretty quickly, though both these are typical problems with phone cameras and the Arc S copes better than most with no really distracting artefacts.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

Likewise the camera is good but not amazing. With 8 megapixels on offer, it's on par with all but the Nokia N8 in terms of raw detail level, and shots are generally well exposed with vivid colours. However, we're not talking about a revolution in quality – shots are still very compressed looking with even modest pixel peeping revealing inadequacies as compared to proper compact cameras. These are just particularly good for a phone.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S 2Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S 3

Also, thanks to an excellent camera app that includes options for exposure metering, white balance, self timer and various scenes, it's easy to get a good shot in most situations (we do wish more phones would offer the ISO control that Windows Phone does, though). There's also a really easy panorama mode where you just pan the camera around and the phone automatically stitches the image together. You can also do 3D panoramas, though you can only view the resultant images on a 3D TV via the HDMI output.

Also good in most situations is battery life. Well, more like adequate actually. You should get a day and a half to two days of average use. As per usual, you can extend this greatly if you reduce much of your data usage or you can zap it in a day if you play games all day.

Call quality, meanwhile, is excellent. Noise reduction is employed to keep noise around you from overpowering your voice while the earpiece delivers powerful, natural sounding vocals. The loudspeaker, though, is rather weedy.

Verdict

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S isn't a phone that blows us away. In fact, considering it's Sony Ericsson's current top of the line, it's a bit disappointing. There's no dual-core processor and the build is underwhelming. However, just as with the original Arc, the Arc S packs in the essential features, has a nice screen and a great camera. What's more it's available for a decent price, making it a sound investment if you're not after the absolute biggest and best.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Camera 8
  • Performance 7
  • Usability 7
  • Value 8
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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