Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play, Arc, Neo, Pro impressions

Yesterday evening I had a hands-on with Sony Ericsson's latest Xperia phones, the Play, Neo, Arc and Pro at the London #XperiaMWC event. I have already covered my impressions of the Xperia Play here.

The four (including the Xperia Play) Xperia are a triple assault by Sony Ericsson on the Android market. Each has its own distinguish features. The Xperia Arc represents Sony Ericsson new Xperia flagship, an ultra slim smartphone with a large 4.2" screen. Sony Ericsson has also catered for users wishing for a hardware QWERTY keyboard - in this case, the Xperia Pro. Finally the Xperia Neo is a mid-range phone that shares many of the features found on its more expensive sibling, the Arc.

Apart from the Xperia Play, the three Xperia shares identical DNA - a Sony Bravia reality engine, HDMI port, 512MB RAM, 320MB internal storage, 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon SoC and a slim 8MP Exmor R backlit sensor. All four runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread and are fitted with Sony Ericsson's own User Experience Platform UX.

Of the four devices, I spent the most time with the Xperia Play, hence why I thought it deserves its own post. There were only one or two Xperia Pro in the event, so I only got to play with it for a couple of minutes. The slide out QWERTY keyboard feels good and the keys had good travel. I also like that the keys are well spaced. However I can't comment on how well the keys are in real life usage. Hopefully I will be able to acquire a review unit.

The Xperia Arc and Neo are basically the same device with a different size screen and design. The Neo looks and feels like Sony Ericsson's last Symbian device, the Vivaz, and features a human curvature back design (as indeed the Pro) and a smaller screen like the Pro. It feels more comfortable in my palm compared to the wider Xperia Arc.

Both the Arc and Neo has similar performances. There were slowdowns but the Sony Ericsson rep has told us that this was because the units were running on preproduction firmware. They all run on Sony Ericsson's Timescape UI which works well. The homescreen can be zoomed out, but unlike other Android launchers, you get an overview of all the widgets currently active. Press any of the widget and you will be brought to the correct homescreen tile.

Sony Ericsson has not confirmed pricing for any of the devices. The Xperia Arc, Neo and Play are said to be launching in March 2011, with the Xperia Pro arriving in April.

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