Sony Ericsson at Mobile World Congress - a summary
23 February 2011 by Olav Hellesø-Knutsen
Sony Ericsson announced four smartphones at MWC this year. The Xperia Arc, Xperia Play, Xperia Neo and Xperia Pro. Read our first impression of the new phone models
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc was announced at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year, so this was actually not a new phone model. And the Xperia Play was no longer a secret when million of North Americans saw a Super Bowl TV commercial a week before the Mobile World Congress started. That leaves us with the Xperia Neo and Xperia Pro as the two new smartphones during MWC. We were expecting something more, such as a Xperia Mini Pro successor but these models might come a little later this year.
Please make sure you read the Xperia Arc paragraph for information about the new display- and camera technology also used in the Xperia Neo and Xperia Pro.
Comparing the Xperia Play with a Sony PSP or PSPgo is a natural thing to do. All three portable game consoles has the well known game controller buttons we also find on the larger Sony PlayStation games consoles. The build quality of the Xperia Play game keys are similar to the other controllers, but the touch-pad like analog keys are something not seen before. We did not find it easy to use this keys on any of the pre-installed games, but the project planner told us none of the pre-installed games except the Dungeon Defenders are fully optimized for use with the thumbpad optical keys. These keys are of best use when steering game elements requiring circular movements.
Screen visibility is much better on the Xperia Play than the older PSP with its TFT LCD display. We brought the first generation of PSP-1000 with us to the Sony Ericsson booth for a comparison and it was a huge difference. We took some pictures of the two devices under a spotlight and while it was difficult to tell of the display on the PSP was turned on, the Xperia Play was viewable from all angels.
While both the Xperia Play and PSP has a 16.7 million colour display, the Xperia Play resolution of 854 x 480 pixel is much higher than the 480 x 272 resolution on the PSP. But it is the screen visibility and not the resolution that is prominent when the two devices was compared side-by-side.
The games we tried were all running smoothly. Only one time during a car crash did we see some lag in the motion. As the Android 2.3 Gingerbread is a multitasking operating system, some apps might have been running in the background while we where playing Asphalt. All in all, the game experience was excellent and we are looking forward to test the Xperia Play when more games are released. We were told the demo devices had the final os installed, but we are not sure if this is the case because all had a prototype sticker attached.
The optional docking station called DK300 will let you charge the phone and connect it to your speakers at the same time. We know some of you do not like having the 3.5 audio jack connector on the side of the phone, but we can see two reasons why Sony Ericsson has chosen to do it on the Xperia Play. One is that it fits well with the docking station. The other is that when you play games, the top and bottom of the phone is where you place your hands to use the game controls.
It was emphasized over and over that the Xperia Play not is the PSP successor. The Xperia Play is not the best gaming device, nor the best smartphone out there. It is a mix of both.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play image gallery
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play highlights
The thinnest part is at the center of the phone and the Xperia Arc form factor follows up on the statement from last year where Sony Ericsson said all future models will have the Human Curvature design philosophy.
Xperia Arc is so far the phone with the largest display from Sony Ericsson. It is 4.2 inch large, has 16.7 million colours, is called Reality, has 480 x 854 pixel resolution with a Mobile Bravia Engine. In our opinion, it is the best display Sony Ericsson has made to this date. The Mobile Bravia Engine improves noise reduction, sharpness, color management and contrast enhancement. The Bravia Engine was developed jointly by Sony and Sony Ericsson for improved image quality on mobile displays and it sure works. We have not been able to directly compare the Xperia Arc display with Samsungs Super AMOLED Plus or LGs NOVA display so we can't claim it is the best we have seen, but it sure is one of the best.
It is easy to vanish in the crowd of new Android smartphones with 4 inch devices in an event like Mobile World Congress. You will have to do something special to stick out of the crowd. The Xperia Arc does not have the fastest CPU or the largest display, but we think the distinguish form factor and generally high end features should be attractive to many consumers. The 8.1 megapixel camera has the resolution you would expect from a high-end device in 2011 and a f/2.4 aperture and a Exmor R CMOS sensor, you'll get low light capabilities we haven't seen before in a mobile phone. We haven't tested any other phone models with the same image quality in low light conditions as the Xperia Arc has. Another nice camera feature we have been looking for in a long time is that the camera is instantly ready for the next shot after an image is captured. There are no 2-second delay here. It is instantly ready for the next shot.
The Exmor R sensor are also active during 720p HD video recording.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc is one of the 6 Xperia phones which has ANT+ support. ANT+ facilitates the collection, automatic transfer and tracking of sensor data for monitoring of personal wellness such as heart rate, power meter, step count data, position data, bicycle speed data and much more. Read more about ANT+ in this article.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc image gallery
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc highlights
Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo highlights
Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro highlights
The Xperia Play, Xperia Neo and Xperia Arc will be available in March this year, while Xperia Pro are in stores a little later. We do not know the price for these devices, but we expect the Play to go for EUR 600+, the Xperia Arc for 500+ and the Xperia Neo for around 440 Euro.
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Brilliant round up, thanks. It's easy to compare the devices this way.