I just got a Rogers branded Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc. Here’s my review.
The Arc has a very large 4.2” 854x480 LCD but at the same time it has a very narrow bezel. The Arc is about the same width as my Google Nexus One even though the Nexus One has a smaller 3.8” display.
My Arc from Rogers came with the phone, micro USB cable, 850mAh (4.25W) AC adapter with USB port and a 8GB Micro SDHC card. It didn’t come with a micro HDMI cable. There is no Rogers branding anywhere on the body of the Arc. Only the software is customized.
It’s a very thin phone. It gets its name Arc from the fact that the back has a slight curve to it. Despite the large screen the Arc feels really light. In this case I’d say it’s a bad thing because the lightness makes it feel kind of cheap. The battery cover feels really thin. Given the large screen I think SE should have shipped the Arc with a metal battery cover. The whole phone just feels too plastic.
On the left is a headphone jack. On the right is a micro USB port along with volume and camera buttons. On top is the power button plus a micro HDMI connector. There’s a lanyard connector on the bottom.
There are 3 physical buttons in front; back, home and menu. The menu and back buttons are flipped around compared to most Android phones (including the SE x10). While I appreciate that SE included physical buttons they don’t light up. So they’re slightly confusing to use in the dark since they’re flipped and don’t light up.
Back to the screen. It’s big and bright. It has a good viewing angle with respectable blacks for an LCD. I don’t have any complaints about it. If you’re wondering whether 854x480 might be too low resolution of a 4.2” display don’t worry, it looks fine to me. SE mentions that the Arc has a Sony Bravia engine. It’s just marketing speak to draw attention to the fact that they paid a lot of attention to the display and the drivers and software surround it. That said, the display is quite good. I’m in the middle of writing an review of the Motorola ATRIX. Long story short it’s got me looking more carefully at other phone displays and one thing I’ve been paying a lot of attention to is how a phone displays colour gradients - specifically the background in the default Google picture gallery which takes your pictures, blows them up and softens then as a background. On the ATRIX is the background is a mess with lots of banding. On the Arc the background is extremely smooth with no detectable banding at all.
Out of the box I got an English on screen keyboard along with a Korean and Chinese one. I’d say the English keyboard is merely adequate. It’s not as good as the default Samsung, HTC and Motorola keyboards. I’d say it’s even slightly worse than even the default Gingerbread (Android 2.3) keyboard. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that the Arc is too thin. I can’t get my hands in a comfortable position to type with both thumbs. Another problem is that the bezel is too thin so part of my palm sometimes touches the display. Again, I wouldn't say the keyboard is terrible but it’s merely adequate.
While both the x10 and Arc are powered by 1Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processors the Arc is powered by a newer version which has substantially faster graphics. Indeed the Arc feels noticeably faster than the x10 though part of this reason is because the Arc has Android 2.3 while the x10 is currently running 2.1.
You get 512MB RAM. The Arc I tested came with an 8GB micro SDHC Card. You can swap it with an up to 32GB card.
The camera has a resolution of 8MP - same as last years Xperia X10. However the megapixel count doesn’t tell the whole story. The x10 is a poster child for the argument ‘more is not better’. The x10 had an awful camera that didn’t work in any lighting condition. Unless you can hold it perfectly still is was very hard to even get a picture that didn’t have blur and even it wasn’t very good. The video mode was no better. Even though a later software update enabled the x10 to capture high definition video, video quality was so horrendous I don’t have a large enough vocabulary to describe it.
So onto the Arc’s camera; first off, the flash is actually a flash as opposed to on the x10 where it’s more of a (useless) light. Although I find the Arc prefers to use a flash more often then I’d like when it’s in auto mode. Picture quality indoors is quite good and outdoors it’s excellent. AF speeds aren’t slow but I wish it was as fast as the iPhone 4 or Samsung Galaxy S.
Videos are captured at 720P but there is an extremely aggressive digital image stabilization. It’s so aggressive that it takes away most of the video resolution and it makes the camcorder app feel laggy. Anyways, quality is good if you leave the IS off.
I appreciate that SE included a dedicated camera button, but thinness of the Arc makes it hard to hold still. Another observation is that the camera is too close to the edge - it took me a while to get used to that.
With the x10 SE was criticized (and rightfully so) that they were too slow with Android updates. I should point out that SE was listening and recently added multi-touch support and promised a Gingerbread update for the x10 later this year so excelsior to them. Anyways, to expedite updates SE has customized the ARC in a way that they’re less dependant on a specific version of Android. We’ll have to see whether these changes do indeed allow for faster updates - I’m hopeful given their turn of face on the x10. They originally said the 2.1 update would be the last.
SE has customized the main menu so it’s more like the iPhones in that there are screens of program shortcuts that you scroll through left and right rather Android’s huge list. I don’t have any screen shots of the Arc because everything has a red tint when I try to take screen shots.
Included is SE’s Timescape widget allows you to view updates from Twitter and Facebook along with your recent calls, messages and even Roger’s UrMusic. You can scroll through them from your home screen. Timescape can support additional services via extensions.. You can download additional extensions for: Foursquare, LinkedIn, VZnet, Hyves and Orkut.
SE has gotten rid of their Mediascape program which was a bit too ambitious in my opinion.
There is now a Media Server app which can stream pictures and videos stored on the Arc via WiFi to DLNA enabled devices like a XBOX 360, PS3, WDTV, a PC with Windows Media Player, etc.
I tested it with my WDTV Live. I turned DLNA on and tried to access the Arc using my WDTV Live. After that the Arc asked me if I wanted to authorized the WDTV Live. You’ll have to pull the window shade down to see the prompt. It won’t actually say WDTV Live, instead it will list it’s mac address. Anyways once I authorized it I could browse photos, videos and music stored on the Arc. Photos worked fine but I found video would start lag a few minutes in. I’m not sure if the lag is caused my the Arc or by the strength of my wireless network.
SE includes Office Suite viewer, if you want to edit and create office documents you’ll have to pay for the pro version.
There’s a program called LiveWare manager which will automatically launch a program if you connect the AC adapter or attach a headset or attach headphones.
Overall the SE customizations are useful and not too heavy. The only thing that I really wish SE had included is an screen orientation lock like you get on the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S.
The Arc is powered by Android 2.3 so the browser supports Flash 10 plus you can use the Arc’s 3G as a portable WiFi hotspot so you can get your computer/tablet online. Android 2.3 also brings SIP VOIP support.
Now this is an ARC from Rogers so let’s talk crapware. Crapware is stuff the carrier loads on a device that you can’t uninstall easily. Can you imagine if you bought a new computer and you couldn't remove some of the extra programs that the vendor loaded? I’m talking extra browser toolbars, program trials, that sort of thing. Generally you get 2 or 3 extra apps on Bell and TELUS so I was shocked that Rogers includes 8 extra icons that you can’t remove: Ringbacks, Ringtones, Shop, Storefront, My Account, On Demand, urMusic and Mobile Backup. Now I don’t have anything against these programs but you should be able to remove them if you don’t want to use them.
RF performance is about average. Both incoming and outgoing call quality were rough sounding though the outgoing is much more so.
The Arc comes with a 1500mAh battery. It should make it through the day though you’ll have to charge it each night.
Overall the Arc has fast performance with an excellent camera, very good display and the most recent version of Android. Overall it’s quite pleasant to use.
My only complaints about the Arc are it feels too plasticy for my taste. It’s also difficult to type on because it’s bezel is too skinny and there isn’t enough ‘phone’ to grab onto. Another problem is that the Rogers version of the Arc is a too over customized.
New Infinity Blade character
My iPhone 5 ringtone: Bah, Bah, Black Sheep.
Sony Xperia ZL | Nokia Lumia 620 | Samsung ATIV-S | Blackberry Z10 | Samsung Galaxy Camera | Reflections on 2012 | HTC Windows Phone 8s | Samsung Rugby LTE | Huawei D Quad XL | Google Nexus 4 | Apple iPad Mini | HTC One X+ | HTC Windows Phone 8X | Nokia Lumia 920 | Sony Xperia T | Parrot Zik | LG Optimus G | Samsung Galaxy Note II | Motorola DEFY PRO | Motorola RAZR HD LTE | From iOS to Android | Apple iPhone 5 | HoFo at the CWTS coverage | Rogers LTE Rocket Hub ZTE MF28B | Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 launch | Motorola RAZR V | Motorola ATRIX HD LTE | Back to School Guide | HTC One V | Huawei Ascend P1 | Sony Xperia ION | Nokia Lumia 610 | Nexus 7 | LG Optimus L7 | HTC Titan II | Sony Xperia U | OtterBox Commuter for HTC One X | Samsung Galaxy S III | HTC One S | Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE | Nokia Lumia 900 | HTC One X | Apple iPad 3 | Sony Xperia S | Samsung Galaxy Note | Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 | Nokia Lumia 710 | Blackberry Playbook OS 2.0 | Casemate Pop for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Commuter for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Defender for Galaxy Nexus | Nokia Lumia 800 | Motorola Pro+ | Blackberry Curve 9360 | Asus Transformer Prime | Galaxy S Glide | Blackberry Bold 9790 | Nokia N9 | 2011 Gift Guide | HTC Amaze 4G | Acer ICONIA Tab A501 | LG Optimus LTE | Case Mate TANK | Samsung Galaxy S II LTE | Motorola RAZR | Samsung Galaxy Nexus