Arc S

Happy 2012, dear readers!

The LT15 Arc certainly turned heads upon release in April 2011; sleek – and dare I say it, sexy – the phone won rave reviews and awards by the dozen. Following on as it did from 2010, a less than illustrious year with Android for SE, this was praise indeed and a remarkable turnaround for Sony Ericsson.

Building upon this success then, the Arc S was announced in August and released in October, effectively retiring the original Arc which has been discontinued after just 6 months…

Continuing with the same curvy, glossy frame, the Arc S sports only a couple noticeable modifications. One is cosmetic: the tiny power button has been replaced by one that is a teeny little bit bigger and little more accessible. The other lies in the guts of the device and SE replacing the 1GHz processor for a 1.4GHz processor. According to the SE press release for the Arc S, this upgrade apparently enables a 25% faster camera start up and media conversion, along with 20% faster web page rendering compared to the Arc, based on internal SE testing.

For me, the performance increase is only really noticeable when opening more memory-intense features like the music player, which now updates itself quite quickly after installing/deleting tracks. That’s not to say it only works on the memory intensive things; my original Arc was always pretty nippy, but I’m sure the extra (up to) 25% performance boost is opening things a couple nanoseconds faster than before.

It’s also noticeable with the camera. The extra speed in this model brings up the camera extremely quickly. The camera button on this model remains as clumsy and stiff as on its predecessor, so I keep the camera icon on my homescreen so I don’t ever have to touch that silly button. And thank goodness for touch capture, that’s all I can say!

I’m at a bit of a loss though as to why this phone didn’t come with 1080p video -the processor is powerful enough to handle it, although perhaps dual-core is really the key to full HD video recording, as it can more efficiently handle the large of amount data required/generated by this process. Still, 1080p isn’t far off now; the 2012 range of Xperia phones are rumoured to have full HD video capture capabilities and I believe at least one of these mooted handsets has at least a 720p screen. Wowzers indeed.

Anyway, before I digress too far, back to the Arc S. As the original Arc has been discontinued, the Arc S is obviously now SE’s preferred variation of the handset. As far as upgrades to existing handsets go, this is definitely an improvement; the modifications do make a difference and 6 months of development have slashed around £130 from the price of this phone compared to the old Arc.

As if that weren’t enough, SE has yet again surprised their consumer base with the release of an alpha ROM for Ice Cream Sandwich. Of course, this update isn’t without problems as it’s an alpha release; the original release of this ROM by SE doesn’t have any comms features, which is disappointing but not surprising. Cue some stellar work by Bin4ry and DoomLord over on the XDA forums to ‘activate’ this ROM for communications and you’ve got yourself a working ICS ROM about 4-5 months before the official version from SE will be out!

Not too shabby at all, but you will need to open the bootloader and thus potentially void your warranty to take advantage of this. No stranger to this sort of tinkering, I’ve indulged in the ICS ROM from XDA and will be posting about it as soon as I’ve finished running some live battery tests!

If you were thinking of getting one of these phones, a price difference of £130 RRP between the old Arc and the newer Arc S is a considerable bonus when you think of how much phone you’re getting for £319.99. Factor in an early update to Ice Cream Sandwich (if you’re game) and it’s got some even greater potential under the hood. It’s definitely worth considering – either to purchase or as an upgrade – you won’t be disappointed.

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