Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc preview: First look

GSMArena team, 10 January 2011.

8 MP Camera

The XPERIA Arc camera usability might be damaged a bit by the lens location or the iffy camera key, but it still remains one of the deviceís key selling points. An 8 megapixel autofocus snapper is surprisingly rare to see at the top end nowadays, despite the fact that Samsung INNOV8 has been available for more than 2 years now.

And, no the HTC Desire HD doesnít count as its image quality doesnít come quite close to that of the XPERIA Arc.

But first thing first, the user interface of the Arc camera has been slightly redesigned. You now have a bar with five shortcuts to popular features at the right, a bar with the latest captured images on the left and still camera/camcorder toggle at the bottom.

The five most comfortable shortcuts allow you to change the capturing mode, resolution, to pick a scene, turn on flash and enable/disable touch capture (i.e. take a shot by pressing the viewfinder).

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Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc
The XPERIA Arc camera interface

Upon pressing the menu key you get some extra customizable options like focus mode, white balance, geo tagging and image stabilization. As is to be expected from a device in this class the XPERIA Arc also packs face detection and smile shot.

The image quality is quite good although the unfavorable weather conditions around our parts still prevent us from passing a final verdict. We can confirm though that thereís plenty of fine detail in the XPERIA Arc shots and the color balance and saturation seems spot-on.

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A couple of Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc camera samples

The noise levels arenít bad, although the applied noise reduction might be a bit too harsh. Still, with a few more months remaining until the Arc is released, we expect the final units to be tuned to produce even better images. Now it wonít come anywhere near the Nokia N8, but it has an excellent chance of getting the silver medal in the smart cameraphone category.

Photo quality comparison

Weíve also added the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc to the database of our Photo Compare Tool. The Toolís page has a quick how to guide and also what to look for.

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Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc in the Photo Compare Tool

HD video recording

The HD video recording is also a really popular feature recently and the XPERIA Arc is doing pretty well (at least specs-wise) with its 30fps. Videos are pretty smooth, although they seem a little low on contrast and fine detail. Itís nothing that a little tuning of the post-processing algorithm cannot fix, we hope.

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Switching to camcorder mode

Check out this 720p sample that we captured with the XPERIA Arc. Once again we have to remind you that we used a pre-release unit and that the weather conditions weren't exactly perfect.

Alternatively you can download this untouched sample, taken straight from the device.

First impressions

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc is a promising smartphone Ė it looks sleek, feels smooth and packs a very decent camera. And chances are that it will improve even further before it hits the shelves as there is plenty of time until then.

Yet the high-end smartphone market is becoming more and more overcrowded with each passing day. Itís where most prestige is earned and understandably every company wants to play a key role there.

You have the LG Optimus 2X that puts the dual-core Nvidia Tegra to the table and the Motorola Atrix that will even add 1GB of RAM. The Apple Phone 4 is always in the thereabouts when high-end smartphones are discussed and we are waiting for Samsung to bring in the Galaxy S successor next month at the MWC. That could either be a global version of the AT&T-bound Infuse 4G or (fingers crossed!) something even better. Not to mention the Google Nexus S, which is certain to get speedy Android updates.

So, hot and camera capable as it might be, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc will have a hard time in the market. It will have to pull off an equally impressive performance when we meet again for a full review in a few months if itís to stay in the fight for the top spot.