Let’s be honest, when you think smartphone, you think iPhone, just like tablet device makes you think iPad and MP3 makes you think iPod. It’s probably the most talked about smartphone and perhaps the most popular in terms of pure handset sales. Obviously there are an army of Android running smartphones out there (along with their allies Windows and Nokia) but out of the ever growing bunch only a handful actually have the potential to take on Apple’s handset. The Xperia range has always been good but will its latest addition, the arc, live up to the reputation of Sony Ericsson’s Xperia family or will it fail and bow down to the iPhone?
Sony Ericsson say of their flagship phone: “Start with premium materials. Stir in some beautiful curvature. Squeeze down to 8.7 mm. And there it is, a perfect palm fit: the slim, lightweight and strong Xperia arc.
And now for Apple’s engineering rhetoric: “All the breakthrough technology in iPhone 4 is situated between two glossy panels of aluminosilicate glass — the same type of glass used in the windshields of helicopters and high-speed trains. Chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic.”
Helicopter glass is all well and good but as we reported last year, it is statistical the most fragile smartphone on the market (or at least it was back in November when the stats were released.)
Though we do not know for sure until it’s properly tested, it’s probably safe to say that the Sony Ericsson will be able to take more of a whack than an iPhone without cracking into tiny pieces.
Appearance wise, it’s all subjective. Some may prefer the more stylish approach of the thin, curvy arc but for me the iPhone’s simple and classic look is one of its strongest features and I really don’t like the three fiddly buttons on the front of Xperia’s.
All discussions about iOS go down the same well-trodden route. It always centres on Apple’s strict control over apps. Apple fans say it’s the reason iPhone is so good because apps are trusted and secure, but the Apple haters call them totalitarian. I’d love to have a whinge about Apple but in the name of journalism I give my honest opinion which is: Apple are damn right with maintaining quality apps but there are better ways to go about it. For me Android is taking the market by storm because it is the future of mobile OS. Let’s face it Google are at the forefront of web innovation from Gmail to Street-view to Google Earth and Google Goggles. Apple have the hardware nailed but its Google all the way in terms of software and it’s as simple as that.
One thing that it is too often forgotten though is that the iPhone is a hybrid: a phone and an iPod. Just like the BlackBerry is designed for business users the iPhone is for music fans. If you won’t get the use out of the iPod then forget the iPhone.
And one more thing, updates. Apple are genuinely smooth in their delivery of updates whilst Sony Ericsson may keep you waiting for the latest Google OS, but if you’re patient it’s not a problem. If though you are inclined to have hissy-fits then take a think about updates.
The iPhone 4 camera offers 5-megapixel photos and HD video plus FaceTime but, Xperia arc blows it out of the water with an 8.1 megapixels HD camera with Sony Exmor R™ for mobile CMOS sensor (that lets you capture high-quality movies and stills in low light) and a HDMI connector to view your shots on a HD TV.
Winner: Arc (x2)
Apple- 960×640 pixels backlit LCD display
Xperia- 854×480 pixels 4.2” Reality Display with Sony Mobile BRAVIA® Engine
Though Apple is better in the pixel department, the BRAVIA Engine has a great reputation. Minus hardcore smartphone users the difference won’t be too noticeable between the two. Both have their pros and cons it has to be a draw in the screen department
Ignoring Apple’s antenna disaster, performance is the same as the screens. You can number bash all day long but these are both high-end smartphones that should run smoothly and efficiently every time otherwise they’re useless. Going on pure reputation Apple’s hardware tends to come out on top against competitors, but the likes of Sony Ericsson are whacking out more and more impressive handsets.
The Xperia has all the Google classics; Gmail, Google calendar, Google maps, Google talk. It also has 3D games, USB support, Face Detection and Geo tagging (for the camera), WiFi, Android market, noise shield (for calls), motion gaming and much, much more. You could think of something a smartphone could have and this will have it.
Apple on the other hand has, motion gaming, the App Store, Wi-Fi, the iPod and FaceTime but after that you’re struggling to find more worth talking about.
When you’re buying a top-end smartphone unless you have excessively high or extremely specific spec requirements it all comes down to the features. The iPhone 4 and the Xperia Arc can both run well, are well designed and aren’t going to explode after two weeks but the Xperia can do so much more. On paper it wins hands down, but in saying that some people don’t need as many features and prefer are more solid, reliable handset that focuses well on certain areas (whilst ignoring others) rather than a jack-of-all-trades phone.
Overall Winner- Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc