Sony Ericsson Xperia arc - Right on the Mark

Launch SRP: S$888

Overview & Design

A[r]ching for Style?

The Sony Ericsson Xperia arc has been on our radar for quite some time now - we initially did a short preview article with a video overview on the classy looker. The Android 2.3 device comes as one of the latest additions to its increasingly Android-crowded mobile space, but with a fairly unique preposition. Not only does the wiry phone boast of a unique design, it also comes with a huge 4.2-inch Reality Display touchscreen with the new Mobile BRAVIA Engine technology. Is the arc as good as it promises to be? Let's start with a recap of its design aspects:

The 4.2-inch screen practically takes the whole real estate on the front, save for three thin slightly curved physical controls. They have been clearly demarcated with symbols, so its pretty easy to distinguish from one another. Unfortunately, these symbols don't light up, leaving us pretty confused when in the dark.

Off the bat, we must say we are impressed  - the phone is really very thin, light, fashionable, stylish and classy. However, because of this attention to weight, the phone's sturdiness feels somewhat compromised. As a result, the device feels fragile because of the light materials used to construct the arc with its rear plastic cover feeling like it can be easily snapped into two pieces. The other smaller area of concern we had was with the arc's fingerprint-friendly shiny sides which  should have been replaced with a matte material finish. 

While we are fans of the simple and clean design, we felt that more attention to detail would have benefited the physical buttons used across the device. For example, the tiny power button was too flushed for comfortable use while the shutter button required better positioning.

Apart from the above concerns, the overall handling experience was positive with its scarce weight of 117g evenly distributed across a comfortably-sized body.

The arc is slightly thicker than a pencil, and stands at a mere 8.7mm thick, roughly 5mm thinner than the original X10, and definitely thinner than most of the other Android phones out there. It is also lighter as well, tipping the scales at just 117g.

 If you look carefully at the back of the phone, you will notice that the arc stands out from most smartphones because of its thin and uniquely curved profile. From left to right: camera button, volume controls and micro-USB port. The volume button is rather short but presents good feedback. The camera button, like the power button, is really small and is placed too far right for quick snapping.

If you look closer at the right profile, you will spot a small notification LED light which serves as an alert for ongoing phone activities such as incoming messages and battery charging. We definitely appreciate its presence but not so much so of its inconspicuous positioning. It should have been present on the front face or at the top of the phone.

On the left profile lies a lone 3.5mm headphones jack.

The phone also comes with a HDMI video output on the top that's protected by a small cap.  The power button sits on the other end  - tiny and flushed, we found it difficult to press and sometimes, locate.

 The groove at the bottom makes for easy removal of the back cover. However a word of caution: do use less force as the cover is relatively fragile.

Our initial impressions remain consistent to our first trial over three months ago - the user experience is largely a positive one due to its slim build and lightweight body. On the other hand, we weren't big fans of its small, sometimes, impractically positioned buttons and unlit symbols (the latter has resulted in occasions where we find ourselves awkwardly fumbling in the dark).

9.0
Design
8.5
Features
9
User-Friendliness
8.5
Performance
9
Value
8.5
The Good
Thin and light build
Unique 'arc' design
4.2-inch Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine
Snappy and capable 8.1-megapixel camera with f/2.4 lens
The Bad
Small and impractical physical buttons
Needs to be handled with care