Flash in the hand
The 720p HD video is smooth and seamless, and there’s a basic video editor that allows you to chop the ends off your clips. Unlike its big brother the Xperia Arc however, there’s no HDMI connection which would allow you to transfer it directly to your TV.
The Mobile Bravia engine makes for a good movie viewing experience but the battery takes a hit
The browser is standard Android and the odd aspect of the screen isn’t a hindrance except when it comes to inputting info such as web addresses. That’s because the keyboard when you’re holding the phone in portrait mode defaults to the alphanumeric type because of the small screen, though you can switch to a full Qwerty keyboard by turning the phone on its side. That little niggle aside, the browser supports Flash, which is always a bonus.
Films look pretty good despite the screen’s relatively small dimensions – you can certainly get away with watching a full length movie, just about, due in part to Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine derived from the company’s fancier TVs. Fortunately, this feature can be switched off to preserve your battery life. There’s an online link to Sony’s Qriocity service allowing you to rent or buy recent movie titles from their online store – the latest blockbusters are £12 a pop mind.
While you’re watching you can take advantage of Sony’s xLOUD Experience, which gives a boost to the phone’s loudspeaker – not just for media, but also for ringtones. The music player looks and sounds good and comes with TrackID for identifying mystery tunes on its built-in FM radio or indeed any other audio source.
Plenty of tempting features, but you'll need to charge it daily
As for on-board software, besides the riches available from the Android Market there are trial versions of OfficeSuite and WisePilot satnav software, but you’ll need to pay extra for the full versions. There’s 300MB of memory on board and it comes with its own 4GB microSD card, though you can bump this up to 32GB if you like.
Battery life isn’t great and the 1500mAh model barely delivered a full day of fairly heavy use. Call quality is decent as well, with voices coming through the loudspeaker clearly and without excessive compression.
The small screen won’t appeal to everyone, but if you can get used to it, there’s a massive amount of features built into the Ray for a comfortable midrange price. ®
More Android Phone Reviews
the iPhone 4S
Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray Android smartphone
Hate to break it to you, Dave...
... but it IS a proper-sized FWVGA screen.
"The capacitive screen’s a bit of an odd one. Diagonally, it measures 3.3in, but that actually translates to 480 x 854 pixels, offering an unusually widescreen resolution, like a dinky little cinema screen. It promises over 16m colours and looks as sharp as a tack, but there’s really no getting round the fact that for a smartphone, it’s rather on the small side."
Umm guess what? This is is the standard resolution of all Sony Ericsson, Motorola etc Android phones - you know, smartphones you regularly review here...
Small screen? If you want a big screen, buy an Arc S, simple... it's called having a choice, something some manufacturers will never give you.
I still have yet to be convinced a dual-core processor in a phone is actually useful. My Desire HD @ 1.2GHz cuts through every task like butter.
Also, small screens? This model is deliberately designed that way. Are you being obtuse? Because the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S has a 4.2" screen and was reviewed right here on El Reg, to huge acclaim, despite a single core 1.4GHz CPU.
Why? Because the specs aren't as important as sheer usability and feel.
Well, they have a big screen, big powered phone. It's called the Arc S and it recently picked up a 90% score on here.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, Android 2.3.4 is optimised for single-core cpus, so having a dual-core makes little sense - in most cases it'll have little benefit on performance and it definitely kicks battery life down a notch or two.
So, given Sony have met this year's apparent "needs" with the Arc, maybe the Ray isn't aimed at people for whom bigger is always better - perhaps it's for people who don't want to fill their pockets with gigantic slabs of glass?
"Not to mention it's priced at the same level as faster handsets."
really? It's easily available for £290 unlocked and I can't think of any faster phones that you can pick up for that price. The more I think about that it's actually pretty cheap for a Snapdragon handset with a very good camera. As others have pointed out putting a dual-core chip into a phone like this would be pointless. A bit more RAM would be a much better and cheaper idea.