Hereís my review of the Sony Xperia Ray. Recently, Android phones have been getting bigger and bigger. The Xperia Ray bucks this trend with a smaller-than-average display that retains the resolution of a larger one.
Itís difficult to tell in pictures but the Ray is absolutely tiny. It's got a 3.3" WVGA display. These days WVGA displays range in size from 3.7 all the way up to 4.7Ē and beyond.
While a 3.3Ē display doesnít sound that much smaller than the iPhoneís 3.5Ē you have to remember that they have different shapes (aspect ratios). Compared to the Rayís display the iPhoneís is much more square. Anyways, while the iPhone is just slightly taller itís noticeably wider.
The small display and high resolution results in a very high pixel density. This means the display is very sharp. At 854x480 it can actually display slightly more information than the Galaxy S II's 800x480 display
The Ray feel absolutely dainty in my hands. It's a relatively narrow phone so it fits nicely in my hand. Itís definitely a phone youíre less likely to drop. It also makes it extremely easy to use with just one hand.
While itís not blindingly bright, and doesnít have outstanding black levels itís still a very nice display thatís as sharp as a tack. Outdoors it works well in bright sunlight.
There are volume buttons on the right side along with a microUSB port on the left. On top is a power button and a headphone jack.
The Ray continues Sony Ericssonís recent tradition of having menu buttons that donít light up. In front, the back button is on the left and the menu on the right. The home button is located in the middle. It doesnít light either up but the area above it does. It serves as a status LED that lights up different colours. I donít think you can change which colours the LED lights up for different event.
As far as design language goes the Ray has a lot in common with the Xperia Pro Mini. Instead of having hard shiny plastic on the back like the Pro, Play and Arc the Ray has a rubberized battery cover. The Ray also has a physical home home button which is round along with capacitive menu and back buttons. Thereís no chrome on side of the phone - probably due to the thinness. The power button and headphone jack are also unique to the Ray.
Build quality seems middle of the road. The back cover is plastic with a rubberized coated. The phone does flex a little when I twist it but this also probably means it can handle being dropped.
You get one English keyboards which is unique to Sony Ericsson. I usually only type in portrait mode. It auto-suggests words above the keyboard. I found that I often accidentally selected an auto-suggested word. This is probably due to the keyboardís small size.
It also has a swipe feature (not to be confused with SWYPE) which works just like SWYPE. While I'm not a big SWYPE user I thought it worked better than swipe. I suspect this is do to the fact that I tend to use swipe with my thumb while I tend to use my index finger with SWYPE. This is a function of the size of the device.
In portrait mode I preferred typing with just one hand. It's too small to use two.
The Ray ships with a 8GB SDHC (my demo unit has a 4GB). To change the card you have to remove the battery.
The Ray captures 8mp images. Outdoors image quality is quite good during the day. There isnít too much noise and colours are realistic. Indoors the Ray struggles a little. It uses unrealistically slow shutter speeds plus noise levels are a little high for my taste.
In low light the Ray isnít very useful. The camera has a LED but it doesnít act as a flash. Itís actually a video light which you either leave on or off. It doesnít flash automatically when you take a picture. Instead you turn it on and then take your picture and even then itís not as bright as a flash. The x10 also had this idiotic feature.
The camera has a sweep panorama feature. You take a picture and then move from left to right. The Ray will create a 180 degree panorama photo. Itís not perfect - when I tried it there where wavy horizontal lines because I didnít move smoothly enough. Hopefully with practice I can minimize this. So, while I didnít get awesome results with sweep panorama I still thought it was a cool feature.
I found that recorded videos were a little soft using the default settings. It turns out that the culprit is a very aggressive digital image stabilization. Turning it off sharpens things a little - just make sure you hold it steady.
The Gallery looks like the stock Android gallery app but it also has Facebook integration to go with the Picasa integration which is already built in. I like this approach of adding to the gallery app rather than replacing it.
Thereís a Connected devices program which lets local DLNA devices stream music, pictures and video from the Ray via WiFi.
Other included extras are McAfee VirusScan and WaveSecure, Video, OfficeSuite and SEís TimeScape program.
I didnít try it but McAfee WaveSecure allows you to lock and wipe, track via GPS and track which SIM cards have been inserted along with backup and restore all remotely. WaveSecure takes up 4MB of storage while VirusScan takes up 2MB. Both can be removed if you don't use them.
Video Unlimited is a video streaming program which uses Sonyís proprietary video streaming service. Apparently, if you buy or rent a video you can also view it on a compatible Sony TV or Blu Ray player. Videos on the the Ray look great because of the small displayís high pixel density.
OfficeSuite is a MS Office file viewer. You have to upgrade to the Pro version if you want to be able to edit and create new files.
TimeScape is Sony Ericssonís Social media program. It consists of a Widget and a program. You use to aggregate your text message, emails, Facebook account, etc. TimeScape takes plugins so as new plugins are added you can add to itís functionality.
You get a second generation 1Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which has better graphics performance compared to the first generation one. Performance-wise Iíd say the Ray is adequate. Everyone I showed the Ray to was impressed with how snappy it was. My only comment is that thereía a slight pause from when you press the power button to when the screen turns on. Itís a very minor issue but it had me pressing the power twice a couple of times.
RF performance seems about average.Sound quality is decent.
Given that the Ray only has a 3.3Ē display and a 1Ghz single core processor it ships with a pretty generous 1500mAh battery. You should be able to make it through a day without a charge. Still it's best to charge it every night.
You may think that youíre giving up too much by going with a tiny 3.3Ē display but the fact of the matter is the Ray has sufficient specifications for most users plus it has an awesome form factor to boot. So, if you donít want a pocket busting 4.7Ē monster phone but donít want to give up too much performance take a look at the Ray.
The Ray can also be a good weekend phone - especially after it drops in price a little. It's got the power of a bigger phone with the portability of a feature phone.