Mobile Phones Guide

Preview: Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray

Preview: Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray


Preview: Sony Ericsson Xperia ray

Shining Through with the Xperia Ray

Sony Ericsson has been bulking up its Xperia lineup of smartphones in the recent two years - anyone remembers the Xperia X10 series? This year, the flagship Android Xperia Arc joins the growing portfolio alongside with the new Xperia Mini series. This time, the new Xperia Ray takes center stage, with a unique preposition: the phone sets to fill a niche of customers that are looking to transit over from feature phones to smartphones as well as appeal to the fairer sex. In a nutshell, the mobile device combines the best from each category - form and function. We first had a look at the Xperia Ray when it made its appearance at the recent CommunicAsia 2011 event, and off the bat, we were impressed with its slim and solid aluminum chassis.

The phone itself is only 9.4mm thin. Its narrow, but sturdy aluminum build makes for easy handling.

To get a feel of how its 3.3-inch screen looks, we took a picture of the phone beside the old HTC Desire's 3.7-inch touch screen. The phone's form factor is similar to those on the feature phones: small, elongated and thin. The screen is impressively bright despite its smaller size.

The Ray spots a clear black glass front when it is switched off or on standby. Like the Arc and the new Mini series, the mobile device is packed with the Mobile Bravia Engine to enhance its display.

Like its bigger cousin Xperia Arc, the Xperia Ray comes with an 8.1-megapixel camera with Exmor R lens. We were impressed with our initial attempts with the camera - auto-focus was speedy and accurate and colors were accurate too. There's no physical camera shortcut button though in a bid to keep the phone as compact as possible.

The Xperia Ray features five home screens that give users easy access to frequently used apps. Sony Ericsson previously featured the smart four-corner UI on the Xperia mini series to increase user accessibility. Likewise, the company has also added a special touch to the Xperia Ray - a nifty widget that facilitates easy one-touch calling on its small screen as seen in the picture above. 

On entering a text input box, the phone starts off with an old-school alpha-numeric keypad in portrait mode... 

... but switches to the QWERTY keyboard format in landscape mode. While the latter was intimidatingly small on first impressions, we had no problems typing with it. 

On first impressions, the Ray struck us as a powerful phone with smartphone capabilities (Android 2.3 OS, 1GHz processor, 8.1-megapixel camera, 854 x 480 pixels screen resolution) stuck in a body reminiscent of a feature phone (3.3-inch touchscreen on a body that weighs only 100 grams). Keeping it small, compact and accessible to a niche crowd has compromised certain additions to the phone that we might like to see, e.g., a camera shortcut button or a HDMI port. However, this combination has seen definitely seen success in a market like Japan. Nonetheless, our experience on the phone has largely been a positive one so far - speedy browsing, receptive touchscreen, bright display and good imaging quality with fast auto-focus.

  Key highlights of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray

  • Google Android 2.3 OS
  • 3.3-inch capacitive touchscreen / 854 x 480 pixels
  • Single-core 1GHz processor
  • Up to 32GB microSD (external)
  • 8.1-megapixel rear camera 
  • Facebook inside Xperia
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • AGPS
  • 1500mAh battery
  • 100g
  • 111 x 53 x 9.4mm
     
  • Available from Q3 2011
  • Available in black, gold, white and pink
                      

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray is slated for a Q3 launch in Asia Pacific, including Singapore, in four colors: black, gold, white and pink, local pricing is yet to be available at the point of writing. The Japanese market will get it slightly earlier with official sales starting from 27th August onwards, priced at ¥37,000 (approx. S$582.657) with a 2-year contract. Pre-sale orders for the smartphone at Docomo (black is not available in Japan) has already started from the 12th of August.

For now, our first impressions direct from Japan and its pricing should set your expectations of what the Ray can offer and who is its target group. Stay tuned for our in-depth coverage on the phone's design philosophy and concept as well as our upcoming review.