The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, the latest model to join the Xperia family, is a stylish, ultra-lightweight smartphone that will turn heads.
At first glance, you will be impressed by how slim (8.7mm) and lightweight (117gm) it is. The sleek, super-slim Arc is so light that it makes the iPhone 4 feel bulky in comparison.
The smartphone boasts a 4.2in Reality display with Mobile Bravia Engine, and is flat in front but sports an unusual concave back, hence the name.
It is Sony Ericsson's largest screen on a handset to date. The large screen takes up most of the front because the Home, Back and Settings buttons take up very little space at the bottom.
Take off the flexible plastic back cover and you'll find the Li-ion BA750 battery, 8GB microSD card and SIM card slot. The wafer thin plastic cover is light, but can be easily scratched.
So ladies, try to not chuck this beauty into your handbag if you want to keep it scratch-free.
This sleek phone houses a 1Ghz Qualcomm MSM8255 processor (Snapdragon) and an Adreno 205 graphics processor which is the same pairing used in the Xperia Play, a model catered for gamers.
So this smartphone not only looks stylish, it also packs a punch in terms of display quality, performance and speed.
The Arc comes with the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). This will certainly excite almost any Android user because the latest version of Google's OS comes with a slew of improvements.
As a fairly new Android user, I am impressed with its tight integration with Google Apps and native applications for Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Calendar.
For instance, you can easily manage your Gmail by adding and removing labels, just like you would do on your desktop PC. Watch your contact list magically populate as Android intelligently grabs your friend's profile photo from your social media accounts.
The Arc works well enough as a phone. It's easy to make and receive calls, and send text messages. You can even create shortcuts to your favourite contacts on the homescreen.
The Xperia Arc also holds up well in terms of speed and touchscreen sensitivity. You can switch from the homescreen to the applications drawer quickly without any lag.
Surfing the Internet is a joy on the Xperia Arc because of its ultra-sharp display and Android's Voice Search feature.
Impress your friends by simply speaking the name of a website and a list of matched websites will appear. Voice Search works best with popular websites such as Google, Yahoo! and, of course, The Star Online. Also, the nifty Voice Search allows you to speak instead of typing out commands such as "send text," "listen to," "navigate to," "call" and "send e-mail."
Pinch-to-zoom which was introduced first with the Xperia X10 works well on the Arc too. However, the grey resize bar (showing the plus and minus sign) which appears and blocks part of the display when you are pinching and zooming is somewhat redundant.
The Xperia Arc comes with an 8.1-megapixel camera that is comparable to any point-and-shoot camera phone. The array of features the camera offers are impressive.
You can control exposure value, toggle image stabiliser, adjust white balance and even switch on geotagging to add location information to your photos.
The camera also offers scene selection and comes with Landscape, Night portrait, Sports, Portrait, Night scene, Beach and Snow, Party and Document modes. You can even select up to three types of shutter sound. Now that's a whole lot of customisation for a camera phone.
You can capture photos in 4:3 or 16:9 resolutions. However, zooming is only allowed when shooting in 2-megapixel mode.
When holding the phone in landscape mode, you are able to take pictures by pressing down the tiny camera button on top or use the touchscreen mode to capture shots.
I prefer to use the latter because you would need to really hold the smartphone firmly and depress the camera button fully to take a shot. Using the camera button would cause you to shake the camera in most instances.
There is no front-facing camera on the Arc, so you can kiss your self-portrait moments good bye!
Video recording is adequate and it supports autofocus during recording. It takes a few seconds for the camera to adjust itself when an object comes into view.
The smartphone also comes with a port for HDMI output so all you have to do is hook it up to a HDTV to view your HD videos.
Sony Ericsson phones are generally known for their music playback capability. The Arc carries on this tradition by providing simple playback controls and comes with a wide selection of preset equaliser settings.
Also, setting your favourite MP3 song as ringtone is as simple as selecting it by clicking on the Settings button during music playback.
Timescape lets you view all your communications at a glance. You can check your missed calls, text messages, Facebook and Twitter updates from a single location.
You can also drag down the Notifications Bar to easily view updates on missed calls, messages, social media and network connections.
The downside to having such a thin, feather-weight phone with a large screen is the short battery life.
With moderate use of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, and snapping the occasional photo and sharing it on Picplz (sorry, no Instagram on the Android), the Arc allowed me to enjoy six hours of battery life.
You can disable vibrate mode and Haptic feedback to further save battery.
The phone heats up slightly if the vibrate mode is left on and notifications keep coming via Google Talk, Twitter or Facebook.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc will appeal to the style conscious or gadget lover who doesn't mind spending a little extra for a beautiful product. The attractive phone will surely make heads turn and fuel many conversations.
However, the big turn off to most people would be the short battery life but this is only expected from a phone with a 4.2in screen.
The Arc is one of Sony Erisscons' most feature-packed smartphones and is worth checking out if you looking for an Android phone running the latest version of the OS.
Pros: Incredibly stylish, slim and lightweight; large ultra-sharp screen; display is great for viewing videos and playing games; lots of handy features.
Cons: Start and camera buttons are tiny and unresponsive; heats up easily; short battery life.
NETWORK: GPRS, EDGE, GSM 850/900/1800/1900
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
DISPLAY: 4.2in (854 x 480-pixels)
CONNECTIVITY: HDMI out, aGPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD (8GB card included)
STANDBY/TALKTIME: 400 hours/7 hours
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 125.0 x 63.0 x 8.7mm