Honey, I shrunk the Xperia arc. No, that's a different story. And yes, we like the Sony Ericsson minis. But that's not how the real story of the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray goes.
They did things to the Xperia arc. They took out its beating heart and carved a new phone out of it. But this isn't a scary story, it has a happy ending. It feels the Ray was always living inside the Xperia arc, waiting to be released. Like a seed that will grow a new plant.
That's how we imagine the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray was born. They cracked the rock open to get to the gem.
The Xperia ray had to shed off layers of armor but lost none of the courage. It's got all the exciting ingredients of the Xperia arc. The sharp BRAVIA engine display is there and so is the 8MP camera, complete with 720p video recording. And the ray is impressively thin too. It is one of the most compact members of the Xperia family, and one of the handsomest phones we've seen.
Sure, the arc is slimmer but it's a massive handset. The mini is tiny but too chubby at 16mm. If you want a really slim and compact droid, the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray is one of the few that fit the bill.
The screen takes much credit for the phone's good looks. The BRAVIA engine unit has the impressive pixel density of 300ppi. We had a close look at the advantages of the BRAVIA engine and the improvements are tangible.
The screen isn't the only thing to borrow from the wealth of Sony experience. The 8MP camera packs an Exmor R sensor, which boasts improved low-light performance. It also captures 720p video with continuous autofocus - on paper, you get the same camera as in the Xperia arc.
Before we go on with the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray's story, you should get to know the protagonist better. Here's the list of all the virtues and the vices as we saw them:
- Quad-band GSM /GPRS/EDGE support
- 3G with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
- 3.3" 16M-color capacitive LED-backlit LCD touchscreen of FWVGA resolution (480 x 854 pixels) on Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine
- Android OS v2.3 Gingerbread
- 1 GHz Scorpion CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 chipset
- 512 MB RAM
- 8 MP autofocus camera, LED light, geotagging
- 720p video @ 30fps, continuous autofocus
- Front facing VGA camera, video calls
- Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
- GPS with A-GPS
- microSD slot (32GB supported, 4GB card included)
- Accelerometer and proximity sensor
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
- Stereo FM radio with RDS
- microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
- Voice dialing
- Adobe Flash 10.2 support
- Slim design at 9.4mm thickness
- Large 1500mAh Li-ion battery
- Screen viewing angles could have been better
- No smart dialing
- Loudspeaker has below average performance
- No DivX/XviD support
- Non hot-swappable memory card
- No HDMI port (the arc and the Neo have one)
We have Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread covered with Sony’s Timescape UI, which is actually really nice and smooth. It has a few nifty animations for moving icons and stuff of that nature but everything is smooth and performs great. We also have built-in screen capture, something I wish ALL Android phones had stock. Long press the power button up top and you have a screenshot option anywhere, anytime. We have almost zero bloatware so that is nice. Other than a few awesome things like Sony’s Music and Video Unlimited we have Facebook, Track ID for caller ID, McAfee Security, Office Suite Pro and that is all. Everything else is Sony bundled apps and games. This being the first Sony Ericsson device I’ve used in a while I’m extremely pleased with performance of the software and overall user experience. The UI changes slow nothing down and really enhance Android in a good way. This is one of a few UI’s I’d actually consider keeping and not replacing with a custom ROM.
We wont take too much time here as we have your average 1.0 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 512 MB of RAM here so there shouldn’t be any surprises on performance. We scored a very decent 1869 in Quadrant and the Vellamo benchmark results were actually what impressed me. Beating almost all single and dual-core phones to date. Not sure if this was a fluke or Sony just does it right, as I had the same results on three tests. Take the results as you will, the performance on this phone is great for the specs so I’m going to just go with it.
Great battery life
Battery life, at about 1.5 to two days under regular usage, is impressive too. That’s because the Ray has a 1,500mAh battery also used in more powerful cell phones.
Finally, the Ray doesn’t fail to impress in the multimedia department. Photos are sharp and detailed even in low light, and additional features like Smile Shot and Sweep Panorama taken from Sony’s Cybershot range of cameras make shooting a pleasure. Videos, too, are smooth and relatively noise-free.