Sony Xperia Arc

So the most striking thing about the Xperia Arc is that it's running Android 2.3 gingerbread. Outside of the Nexus S, this is the first other device we've seen running google's latest smartphone OS, and what's even more surprising is that the Xperia Arc is running it atop a 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 instead of Samsung Hummingbird like the Nexus S (which is essentially the reference platform for Android 2.3). The whole thing felt very snappy and responsive on the Xperia Arc, and we ran a couple of browser benchmarks on the Arc just to confirm our suspicions, screenshots of which are in the gallery below. 

The Arc is visually striking, deriving its namesake from the concave curved backside which is 8.7 mm thick at its thinnest point. The unfortunate downside for the Arc is that the material is fingerprint-magnet plastic just like the Galaxy S and Nexus S - it feels slippery in the hands and looks it too. That said, it's hard to really gauge everything in just a few minutes time, and the Arc does impress. The other curious bit is that there are only three of the four android buttons on the Arc's face - back, home, and menu. Search is curiously absent. 

Sony is taking a nod from Apple (though it seems everyone is this CES) by giving its display a brand name. Sony calls its admittedly bright 4.2" TFT-LCD a "Reality Display" and claims it has some secret sauce from Sony's BRAVIA TV heritage which improves quality. I'm not entirely sure what that actually entails, but the display indeed seemed bright and vivid, and viewing angles were good.

Similarly, the camera CMOS in the Arc is Sony's own backside-illuminated Exmor R, and is coupled with their own f/2.4 optical system. We didn't get time to test out the camera, but it'll be interesting to see how Sony's own in-house camera silicon compares to the stuff we've seen from OmniVision being installed in nearly every other smartphone.

Sony Xperia Arc
SoC 1 GHz MSM8255 (45 nm Snapdragon)
GPU Adreno 205
RAM 512 MB
NAND 8 GB microSD
Camera 8.1 MP, Autofocus with LED flash, 720P Video Recording
Screen 4.2" 854x480 LCD-TFT "Reality Display", Capacitive Touch
Bands (UMTS)

HSPA+: 800/850/900/1900/2100

Bands (GSM/EDGE) GSM/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900
Height 125 mm (4.9")
Width 63 mm (2.5")
Depth 8.7 mm (0.3")
Weight 117 grams (4.12 oz)
I/O microUSB, BT, 3.5 mm audio, WiFi

Sony has its own skin running atop Android 2.3, which dramatically changes the application launcher, dialer, notification bar, and a bunch of other places. You can see a bunch of examples in the gallery. It actually bears a striking resemblance in style to Sony themes on other devices like the PS3, but I'd still imagine people would prefer stock Android, especially since 2.3 really brings striking UI changes. Availability of the Arc will be late Q1 to Q2 2011. 

Huawei IDEOS X5
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  • Mikey Mouse - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    What's cool about the Ideos is it's supposed to be a "budget" device, but seems to not too far behind the top tier phones.

    It also runs stock vanilla android, this alone means I'm pretty much in love.
  • warisz00r - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    Same, same!

    Also, the thickness of 8.7mm DOES make the X5 one of the thinnest smartphones around.
  • warisz00r - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link


    After seeing the Huawei up close, I figure that it's no way near 8.7mm thin. Typo?
  • deputc26 - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    Yep I thought the same thing, has to be a typo or it WOULD be the thinnest smartphone as the current record holder is the infuse at 9.0mm
  • Mikey Mouse - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    11.4mm Thick.. Still, I think it's not bad considering the price point this is targeting. Apparently it's launching here for about NZ$500 which makes it half the price of the Galaxy S
  • TareX - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    Easily the best looking phone. On the software side, it's EXTREMELY responsive and fluid... all the video demos I've seen comfirmed this fact. The widgets are a feast for the eyes, and the camera app is insane. EXCELLENT PHONE... except...

    ...for the catch:

    In order to make it that thin, they had to remove the front camera. There'll be no video calling in the future of this phone. Instant dealbreaker for me.

    And I love the Gingerbread surprise, SE.
  • poohbear - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    u know i was all excited about video calling, but i never ended up using the feature! used it once to check if it was working, and that's it! its just not something i wanna do, i found out i prefer just hearing the other persons voice, allows me to multi task while talking instead of just staring at them, and heck i already know how they look and im gonna see them soon enough, so why bother? Im on the phone to talk, and that's what i do.
  • TareX - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    Maybe for you.... but for me, my parents live in another continent, and I video call my mother everyday. My friends are all over the world as well. It's quite important.
  • Belard - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    When I was buying my first smart phone 2-3 months ago... I had the choice of the Xperia or new Samsung Galaxy S Captive and I've been using SONY Cell phones for about the past 8 years.

    Obviously, the screen is better on the Samsung. I like how the SONY felt - the previous model is thicker (which I preferred) but a tad heavier. I also prefer the main buttons being real.

    But that stupid rubber cover for the top-mounted USB port and older Android OS made me go with Samsung and the ALOED screen finished it off. Obviously the newer SONY has the newer OS... but still... The rubber covers ALWAYS sucked and still suck. Samsung uses a sliding cover

    If I went with the SONY, I'd have ripped it off.
  • guidoq - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    All these Android articles are getting silly. Would this be a story if it was about the iphone?

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