Mobile Phones Guide

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S review

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S - A Second Show

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Overall rating 8.5/10
Thin and light
4.2-inch display with Mobile Bravia Engine
Snappy 8.1-megapixel camera with f/2.4 lens
Capable 1.4GHz processor
Small and impractical physical buttons
Incremental upgrades from its predecessor, the Xperia Arc

Introduction, Design & Performance

The Second Arc

We covered the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc extensively in April - from its unique and slim arched design (hence, its namesake) to its 4.2-inch Reality Display touchscreen that featured the new Mobile BRAVIA Engine technology. But barely 6 months later, its updated successor, the Arc S, joins the playground of Android smartphones. So what's new with this refreshed unit? Let's take a look.

Same Arc, Same Looks

If you are looking for intrinsic changes to the overall look of the phone, you might very well be disappointed. That is not to say the Arc S looks bad. In fact, the smartphone retains the stylish and modern look of its predecessor. With the Arc S being outwardly identical to the Arc, this means the good and the bad things on the Arc stay. Fortunately, Sony Ericsson has pumped up the color variations from two to five (Pure White, Midnight Blue, Misty Silver, Gloss Black and Sakura Pink). Otherwise, dimensions, weight, and button size/layout remain unchanged.

Benchmarking the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

So what makes the Arc S different? Hardware-wise, it comes with a faster and more powerful 1.4GHz processor. To give readers a gauge of what to expect in terms of performance, we have adopted a few benchmark tests specific to the Android platform.

Within this page, we'll be looking at two specific benchmarks, both of which are downloadable via the Android Market.

  • Quadrant: It measures the device's performance based on its CPU, I/O and GPU. Simply put, Quadrant is a benchmark that gives you a general idea of how your device performs against other Android devices.
  • NeoCore: It is targeted towards the device's GPU performance. This is especially important given how smartphones of today have evolved into an alternative, high-powered device that dabbles in heavy graphical interfaces and gaming.

Do note that the above two benchmarks are not absolute in measuring performance, but they give you a good rough estimate of where the device stands against the competition. Our tests were conducted on devices from a fresh reboot on their respective stock firmwares. To show how the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S performed against similar smartphones, we compared its results against the following high-end Android devices (a mixture of dual-core and single-core smartphones) - HTC Sensation, Samsung Galaxy S II and Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

Smartphones Compared
Device Sony Ericsson
Xperia Arc S
HTC Sensation Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Ericsson
Xperia Arc
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255T (Single-core 1.4 GHz)  Qualcomm Snapdragon
(Dual-core 1.2GHz)
ARM Cortex-A9 Exynos
(Dual-core 1.2GHz )
Qualcomm Snapdragon
MSM8255 (1GHz)
GPU  Adreno 205 Adreno 220  Mali-400MP  Adreno 205
RAM   512MB  768MB 1GB 512MB 
OS  Google Android 2.3 Google Android 2.3  Google Android 2.3 Google Android 2.3

If you look at the Quadrant benchmark scores, the Arc S did slightly better than its predecessor.  Unsurprisingly of course, since the Arc S comes with a faster and more powerful 1.4GHz processor. To give you a good gauge of how the Arc S's score compares to the dual-core smartphones, we have also included the latest two smartphones from that particular category. As you can see, the Arc S sits comfortably almost halfway in between the Arc (1GHz) and HTC Sensation (dual-core 1.2GHz), with Samsung's Exynos chipset still taking the lead.

However, when it comes to the NeoCore scores, all devices gave remarkably similar scores. With an FPS score of 59.3, the device is almost neck and neck with the dual-core phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Sensation. while that may sound like a testament  to its capable performance, you can't entirely rely on benchmark scores to gauge a device's performance, especially for a casual consumer device.

From our hands-on experience, the Arc S was pretty speedy and lag-free even with multiple apps running in the background. We experienced no lags and crashes while surfing the web, or opening various apps and switching between them in quick succession during our test run. In essence, you get a responsive phone with smooth transitions and enough horsepower for fluid multi-tasking.

Sounds good so far for raw processing prowess. On the next page, we share multimedia and battery life performance before we conclude.