First review of 2012: Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S


An update to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc released last year, the Arc S brings in a new processor, updated camera, and an extra letter. Who knew that the letter “S” was such a big deal?

The second Arc model in a year, the Arc S isn’t a huge upgrade from what we saw briefly in the first Arc model. In fact, it’s not a huge departure from many of the Sony Ericsson models we’ve seen this year, complete with similar specs.

In the hand, the plastic build is comfortable and easy to hold, while the back can feel a little slippery. Aesthetically, it’s a good-looking phone, with minimal design fussiness.

Sony Ericsson’s customised Timescape interface to Android OS still feels as good as it did on the Sony Ericsson Neo and Ray, and it now features a perfect blend of easy-to-use smartphone menus, app removal feature, and shortcuts in the dock.

While touch is obviously the dominant force here, Sony has left a couple of physical buttons to play with, making it possible to switch the device on, raise and lower the volume, and press the camera shutter. With the exception of the volume, though, these buttons were stiff and hard to press.

Phone calls and texts are easy to make, and we still like the onscreen keyboard with its excellent spell check feature left from recent Sony Ericsson devices. Overall, the performance of regular day-to-day phone activities is strong on this handset.

Strength can also be found in the screen, with vibrant colours and clear images. There’s a bit of wash-out if you view the screen off-axis, but it doesn’t seem to impact the quality dramatically.

Battery life is on par with 2010 standards: you’ll get a day out of it, but probably not much more. After checking the specs, we learned that Sony Ericsson uses the same capacity battery in the Arc and the Arc S, despite boosting the speed of the latter. This would contribute to the poorer battery life of the S.

The issue with battery life wasn’t the big negative for us, though, and we were left wondering what the extra “S” could possibly mean. Perhaps it stood for “Slow”?

Despite the new and faster processor, the Arc S is not speedy, with significant lag between finger presses on the touchscreen and jumps between apps. Half of the time, the Arc S is speedy and solid, but then it can just as easily be slack and slothful, moving at the rate of a sleepy slug.

When it hits these lulls, the menus are slower to respond, animations aren’t performed, and programs don’t open quickly.

We’re also surprised at the camera technology present in such a premium phone. While the quality and speed of the 8 megapixel shooter is excellent, the lack of 1080p video is a little disheartening, as is the absence of a front camera. No front camera means no video chat, and while not everyone is using this feature in their handsets, it’s been present in top-tier mobile phones throughout 2011. Its absence puts the Arc S behind the competition at this price point.


The Arc S doesn’t represent a significant upgrade from the Arc, so won’t be a compelling buy for owners of the original. And while it lacks some of the speed, features and endurance of other smartphones it is a slick-looking smartphone with a good camera and strong interface.


Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Camera is very fast; HDMI port can be useful;
Battery needs to be a lot better; No front-facing camera; Physical buttons require determined finger presses; Performance can lag;