Editor rating : 8
Editor rating : 8
Editor rating : 8
Editor rating : 8
Editor rating : 7.5
Sony Ericsson has created a niche for itself in the smartphone arena with their recent Android smartphones. The company recently launched their latest entrant in the popular Xperia range, called the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray. Currently, there is cut-throat competition amongst leading smartphone manufacturers and Android phones are being manufactured at a dime a dozen. But, does the new Xperia Ray pack enough to warrant a buy? Read on to find out.
On video: Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray
Design and Build Quality
The Xperia Ray has a 3.3-inch screen and weighs 100 grams and cannot be counted as a big phone by any means. It looks sleek with the matte finish on the sides and back and the embossed Xperia logo. The all-glass screen in the front with an arc at the top and the bottom add to the stylish look as well. The top consists of the power button, along with the headphone jack that slightly protrudes from the body. The right consists of the volume rocker, while the microUSB slot is located to the left. Two capacitive buttons along with the home button are situated under the 3.3-inch Bravia Mobile engine LED-backlit LCD display that has a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels.
Volume rocker switch could have been a little bigger
The tactile feedback of the buttons is good, but as a personal preference, the volume rocker button could have been a little bigger. The camera and single LED flash on the back have a silver border to them that adds to the look. A particular thing to notice is that the SIM card slot and microSD card slot are housed under the battery, so there’s no hot-swap feature available for changing memory cards.
Overall, the Xperia Ray is easy to hold in your hand. It isn’t on the heavier side at all and definitely gives a feeling of superior design and build.
Features and Performance
The smartphone is powered by a 1GHz Scorpion processor with an Adreno 205 GPU, an MSM8255 Snapdragon chipset and runs on the Android 2.3.3 OS. Running on top is SE’s stock Timescape UI that displays Facebook, Twitter and other extensions as tiles that you can scroll through on your home screen. It looks good, just like on the earlier devices, but it's pretty average, as far as functionality is concerned. The screen response is quick and doesn't have any lag, whatsoever.
Sleek and stylish body
Sony has also included a few themes and skins, but they've kept them to a minimum, which is good with all the bloatware that manufacturers have been putting these days on their devices. Xperia Hot Shots, the UEFA widget, Wisepilot and Touchnote are few of the new apps that come bundled with the device. Home screen widgets are standard with toggle switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Silent mode and Brightness along with the Timescape widget, Google search and weather icon. The interface is simple, but swift, while the navigation is effortless.
The Xperia Ray continues to live up to the merits of the music player that the previous versions had and it’s fair to say that it doesn’t disappoint. MP3, eAAC+ and WAV are supported out-of-the-box, as far as audio is concerned and video format support is for MP4, H.263 and H.264. Those looking for playback for other formats will require to download third party apps from the market. SRS WOW enhancements haven’t been included, but irrespective of that, the sound is loud and clear. The music player has a nice little feature, which changes the background colour lighting depending upon the album art, which adds up to the looks. There’s an instant 'like' button next to the song title that directly connects to your Facebook likes. The infinity button helps find music videos, or karaoke videos on YouTube, search artist information on Wikipedia and lyrics on Google. It works quite well and might come handy for those instant karaoke music sessions.
The music player
The speakers are based on Sony’s xLOUD audio filter technology and the sound from them is crisp and clear. However, the bundled headphones aren’t the best and they have a lot of audio leakage. For a better music experience, we’d recommend you purchase another pair of headphones.
The device is 3G capable, like most other devices in the market. Other connectivity features include Wi-Fi with hotspot capability, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and EDR, microUSB 2.0 and the basic GPRS/EDGE connectivity. The device is DLNA-enabled as well which allows it to wirelessly stream music and videos to other DLNA devices. However, neither NFC support nor USB on-the-go is present on the device and while we’re at it, we'll just mention that Bluetooth 3.0 would have been a good addition, as well.
Power button and headphone jack on the top, two capacitive buttons and home button below the display
Besides the stock Google maps, Gmail and navigation apps, a data monitor app is pre-installed, which is quite handy, if you’re on 3G and wish to know your current data usage. An Adobe Reader app is bundled, along with the Sony update center app and a LiveWare manager that shows the current connected ports in the device. Besides this, the basic alarm clock, calendar, calculator and sound recorder apps come pre-loaded. Surprisingly, the phone doesn’t come with any pre-loaded games.
The timescape UI
The Ray has an eight megapixel rear camera with Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor with auto-focus and an LED flash. The smartphone doesn’t have any dedicated camera button and you might have that odd moment of frustration when the camera doesn’t recognize your touch and doesn’t click. A single click adjusts the focus, following which the camera snaps a picture. But, for those times when you’re on a picture clicking spree, the responsiveness is a little slow, due to the touch-to-focus-and-click mode. The front VGA camera is decent and performs well during video chatting sessions or whilst clicking self-portrait pictures.
Pictures appear bright on the Bravia Mobile engine
Video shooting is up to 720p and it does perform quite well. There’s very little jitter and shooting videos is quite smooth. Auto capturing mode for image shots does all the dirty work for you, whereas the normal capturing mode for both photo, as well as video shooting has image stabilization options, metering, white balance and focus mode options. The flash is quite powerful and images in low-light conditions are captured pretty well.
The Xperia Ray comes with a 1500 mAh Lithium-ion battery. In our battery test, the battery exhausted itself after three hours of video, two hours of music playback, two hours of streaming and one and a half hour of calls, which brings it to a total of 8 hours 30 minutes. Normal usage lasts around one and a half day on a single charge and at optimum brightness, which is quite good.
A 3.3-inch screen smartphone at Rs. 20,000?
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray is priced at Rs. 20,000. With that price, it competes with the likes of the Google Nexus S and the LG Optimus Black and the HTC Desire S. The eight megapixel camera is brilliant, but the smaller 3.3-inch screen size may not appeal to everyone and as mentioned earlier, the smaller keyboard will take some time to get used to. Also, 1080p recording isn’t present and the internal memory is a mere 1GB, out of which only 300 MB is available to users. Yes, the smartphone performs pretty well with whatever features it has and has the Bravia Mobile engine, too, but choosing this phone over the other ones currently in the market will be more due to personal taste and choice than for the features it possesses.
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