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Design: Sony Xperia S vs Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S (with Video)

With the new Sony Xperia S comes a new design direction for the Xperia line. Sony term it their ‘Iconic Identity’ and it hasn’t just landed on the Xperia S – it can be expected on the Xperia P and U as well. Iconic it may be, but it’s also markedly different from that found on the Sony Ericsson arc S and other Xperia handsets of old. In turn, we decided to compare the designs of both these handsets in a bid to better understand Sony’s NXT series

Side by side, the curved top and bottom of the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S are contrasted with sharp, straight lines on the Sony Xperia S. With comparable screen sizes and surface areas, Sony’s new flagship more closely resembles a Bravia TV than a mobile phone breaking it away from the Ericsson curved heritage that kicked off with the Ericsson T68.

Along the back are two totally different finishes, though both plastic. The Xperia arc S is high gloss and shiny. Elegant and almost varnished, it looks well placed in a young female’s well manicured hands or a sporty male’s gym bag. Moving onto the Xperia S and its rich backing and geometric curvature instantly places it in a more classical, timeless design category. Confident in its thickness, it not only looks bold, but stylised as well with its transparent banding.

In addition to its more classical physicality, the Sony Xperia S also ditches the chrome effect trimmings and buttons in favour of a more cohesive design. Clean, slick and flushed lines tie all the buttons and flaps together with as little fuss as possible. More ergonomic, the headphone jack has been moved to the top by Sony in their new flagship, the buttons are easier to press and the flaps covering the ports are bigger. Having said that, we did have a few issues with the USB flap on one of the samples we tried, so wear and tear may weaken these.

Speaking of ditching the chrome, Sony have also ditched the buttons where possible. The three main buttons on the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S were a nightmare to use in the dark with the backlight failing to illuminate the icons that guide your press. In addition, the chrome wore off after some time in the pocket and added another physical element to the fascia. In contrast, the Sony Xperia S front is totally button free. Above each icon in the transparent bar is a corresponding capacitive button, with a tiny white dot indicating its location. Buttons on the Xperia S are however also fiddly, with presses occasionally being ignored. So while not perfect, aesthetically at least, they are definitely a step in the right direction.

Onto thickness, where the arc S curves in, the Sony Xperia S curves out from its tapered sides. With the arc S measuring 8.7mm thin and weighing 117g, it’s both thinner and lighter than the Xperia S which measures 10.6mm thin and weighs 144g. In an age where phone manufacturers are battling for the thinnest and lightest, it takes a confidence to buck the trend and just make a solid phone. That’s what Sony appear to have created in their Sony Xperia S.

If you couldn’t tell by our Sony Xperia S review, we’re fans of the direction Sony are taking their post-Ericsson design. We thought the arc S was a great looking phone, but it wasn’t classical or timeless. The Sony Xperia S is. It looks clean, functions well and other than a gripe with the capacitive buttons being difficult to press, is more operationally functional. What do you think – do you disagree and wish Sony slimmed down their S or are you in favour of the classical approach as explained in their NXT video? Thoughts and comments below our video comparison.


**Apologies – at 4:40 – we say quad-core, we mean dual-core.**


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