Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray

Feature set summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray review
Plenty to recommend it including a good music player and exceptional snapper.

Style and handling summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray review
Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray

The Ray's display is truly wonderful - and the handset looks great and sits nicely in the hand.

Battery power summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray review
We all know by now that smartphones will need to be charged every day - and the Ray is no exception - but battery life is not bad considering the presence of that super-duper display.

Performance summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray review
Everything runs nicely thanks to the 1GHz chip under the hood.

User friendliness summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray review
Mostly the handset is wonderful to use, although we found the virtual keyboard a touch fiddly.

Full Review and Specification for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray

The full Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray Review

Just what a lot of people are after from their smartphone - a bigger display without a massive handset - that's what Sony Ericsson has on offer from its new Xperia Ray, which reminds us of the company's flagship Xperia Arc in terms of its build and style.

Screen star
First thing you'll notice is that the front of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray is nearly entirely covered by the display. There is one hard key for Home at the bottom, along with touch-sensitive areas for Menu and Back on either side of this.

Switch on the display and it's apparent it has a really high resolution - it boasts more pixels than the excellent Galaxy S II and its 4.3in display. In fact, pretty much the only handset that has a higher-res screen is the iPhone 4.

Unsurprisingly, this means you are treated to a bright, colourful and detailed experience, thanks to the kind of technology found in Sony's Bravia TVs. In fact, to remind us of its television heritage, when you switch off, the screen disappears to a white line, like that you see when you switch off a TV. This is a nice little extra that also appeared on the Google Nexus S and the Xperia Arc. It's a shame that the screen's smaller size makes some of the icons look rather overstuffed.

Key point
The display's smaller size also means that the virtual keyboard is a tad cramped and fiddly. In portrait mode, you can opt for a 1-9 touchpad, but it takes ages to input anything - and the full QWERTY option is just too squashed. Typing is better in landscape mode - but still we would suggest downloading Swype or SwiftKey from Android Market to improve the inputting experience.

The Xperia Ray has a front-facing snapper, a power button on the top and on the top right edge a volume rocker. It looks pretty neat, with a slightly rubbery reverse side and a glossy black front.

Anyone familiar with the Xperia Arc will recognise many of its features on the Ray - including that Bravia technology and the eight-megapixel snapper. Sony Ericsson is well known for its camera phones, and while some handsets boast snappers with more megapixels, this one impresses with strong images and little in the way of shutter lag. The Sony Exmor sensor means it performs better in low-light situations. Video and music playback are well catered for as well.

Time for Facebook

The makers of Android handsets vary wildly in their approach - some of them make no changes whatsoever, while others, such as HTC, put their own spin on the operating system with excellent results. Sony Ericsson takes the middle ground - it offers some extra apps and customised icons. Included in those apps is the Timescape system, which has been designed to bring together all your tweets, status updates and so on into one stream. While it can impress, sometimes the text is hard to read, and the tiles can go past so speedily that you can't read anything.

What we prefer is the Facebook integration that Sony Ericsson has seen fit to offer - it brings Facebook into your phone book in a way that no other phone makers have managed to do as yet.

Our conclusion
All in all, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray is a neat, pocket-friendly handset that is fast and does a good job of making the most of Android within its small frame. For anyone who wants an effective smartphone with a great display, but finds the iPhone and its ilk too large, the Xperia Ray could be the perfect choice.