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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £334
inc VAT

The Arc S has a faster processor and better battery life than the original Arc, and even costs slightly less SIM-free, but the 3D and USB features aren't compelling reasons to upgrade


Android 2.3, 4.2in 480×854 display

The original Sony Ericsson Xperia arc impressed us with its slim design and latest version of Android, but we were worried that its single-core processor might be underpowered compared to the slew of dual-core smartphones appearing on the market. The follow-up to the Arc goes some way to addressing the power deficit, but instead of doubling the cores Sony Ericsson has fitted a faster 1.4GHz single-core processor.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

Current Xperia arc owners don’t need to feel they’re missing out, though, as the Arc S isn’t hugely different from the original. It still runs Android 2.3 and has the same 4.2in screen, and despite the 40% faster CPU the S doesn’t feel any quicker than the original Xperia Arc – Android runs smoothly, but we didn’t see any particular improvement when multitasking.

The phone has a sparkly plastic rather than metal casing, which may put some people off, but it also helps keep the weight down – at only 114g it’s one of the lightest big-screen smartphones we’ve used. Sony Ericsson has generously included an 8GB microSD card, and there’s 1GB of internal memory.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S right

We were expecting the faster processor to reduce battery life, especially as the Arc S has the same battery as the Arc. However, in our light usage test where we play an MP3 file on a loop, the phone lasted for almost 40 hours – a seven hour improvement on the Arc. Depending on your use of 3G, GPS and Bluetooth, the Arc S should last a full day or even two without charging. Installing apps such as Advanced Task Killer and Juice Defender should help reduce the need for charging too.

As we went to press, Sony Ericsson’s website still mentions USB Host support on the Arc S page, which is rather misleading. The phone itself doesn’t support USB OTG (On-The-Go) – the official name for USB host support. Instead, you have to buy an optional LiveDock (part code: DK10, £30), and it only supports keyboards, mice or gamepads, so you won’t be able to use it to attach storage devices, for example.

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Price £334
Rating *****
Award Best Buy


Main display size 4.2in
Native resolution 480×854
CCD effective megapixels 8.1-megapixel
Flash LED
Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB
GPS yes
Internal memory 320MB
Memory card support microSDHC
Memory card included 8192MB
Operating frequencies GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 800/850/1900/2100
Wireless data EDGE, HSPA
Size 125x63x9mm
Weight 117g


Operating system Android 2.3
Microsoft Office compatibility Word/Excel/PowerPoint/PDF viewers
Email client POP3/IMAP/Exchange
Audio format support MP3, e-AAC+, WMA, WAV
Video playback formats MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV
FM Radio yes
Web Browser Webkit
Accessories headphones, data cable, charger, HDMI cable
Talk time 7.5 hours
Standby time 19.2 days
Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 39h 59m

Buying Information

SIM-free price £334
Price on contract £31-per-month, 18-month contract
SIM-free supplier
Contract/prepay supplier

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