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Xperia Arc phone runs Android 2.3 — or is it 2.4?

Jan 7, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Ericsson announced an “Xperia Arc” smartphone featuring a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, a 4.2-inch display, and an 8.1-megapixel camera. The Arc nominally runs Android 2.3, but was spotted at CES running Android 2.4, reinforcing the notion of a fork between tablet (3.0) and phone (2.3/2.4) Android versions.

Sony Ericsson has introduced the super-slim Xperia Arc, the newest addition to the Xperia smartphone line (which already includes last year's high-end, Android-based Xperia X10).

Unveiled at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, the phone was said to run Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" on a 1GHz Qualcomm processor. This is presumably a Snapdragon, which was also offered by the Xperia X10.

Before we get to the details, however, an interesting development has been spotted by Dutch tech site, as reported by Gizmocrunch and others. It appears that the Xperia Arc (pictured at right) shown by Sony Ericsson at CES was actually running Android 2.4, a rumored release that many expected was the tablet-focused "Honeycomb" until Google made it clear this week that Android 3.0 was the true Honeycomb.

Gizmocrunch speculates that Android 2.4 is a minor update, and will also be called Gingerbread, just as Android 2.0 and 2.1 were both called Eclair. Yet, it also seems to offer further support for the notion — implied, but not stated by Google — that Android 3.0 is strictly for tablets and other larger screen sizes. In other words, it would appear that Honeycomb represents a fork of Android, with smartphones following their own 2.x path instead.

It's all speculation, however, until Google — which has been getting coy about its releases — lays out the full story. 

Xperia Arc: focusing on the camera

The Xperia Arc earned its name because it is designed to "fit perfectly in the user's hand," and has the slimmest curve, noticeable mostly in profile, says Sony Ericsson. The phone measures 8.7mm — or approximately 0.34 inches — at its thinnest point.

The Arc's 1GHz processor is supported with 512MB RAM and an 8GB flash card for a microSD slot that can hold up to 32GB, says Sony Ericsson. The phone (pictured at left) is outfitted with a 4.2-inch capacitive multitouch display with 854 x 480 resolution, made of shatter-proof, scratch-resistant glass, says the company.

Like the Xperia X10, the Arc features an 8.1-megapixel camera, which was a first for the X10, but is still considered high-end today. The camera includes Sony's "Exmor R" mobile sensor and offers an f/2.4 lens for photographing and video recording in low light. Other touted camera features include auto focus, face detection, geo tagging, and HD video recording at 720p.

Connectivity includes assisted GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. The Xperia Arc offers a USB port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an HDMI port with DLNA compatibility, letting users share HD video with an HDTV.

The Android 2.3 (or 2.4) phone ships with a media browser, video streaming, and support for 3D gaming, as well as email, messaging and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, says the company.

There's a slew of Google mobile services, such as Gmail and Google Talk, and easy access to the Android Market. The phone is said to feature Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine for "the ultimate multimedia and viewing experiences," and there's turn-by-turn navigation software from Wisepilot.

Sony Ericsson finding its Android stride?

In an October report on smartphone shipments during the third quarter of 2010, Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston grouped Sony Ericsson with Motorola and LG Electronics and described them as having missed "much of the boom in premium 3G smartphones." Going forward, however, Mawston warned that the top players will need to watch their backs, as Sony Ericsson and the like are finding their strides.

"There is a long tail of second-tier players emerging who are knocking on the doors of the top five players," Mawston wrote. "ZTE, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Huawei, and Alcatel are all shipping volumes that are within touch distance of the leading group."

To keep up with consumer demand for smartphones, IDC analyst Ramon Llamas wrote in a Nov. 5 report, vendors are emphasizing the smartphones in their portfolios, resulting in "sharp growth, as evidenced by Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson." He added, "We expect more vendors to do the same."


The Xperia Arc will begin shipping globally to select markets — Japan included — during the first quarter of this year, in Midnight Blue and Misty Silver, says Sony Ericsson. More information on the Xperia's latest Android phone may be found at Sony-Ericsson's Xperia Arc page.

Michelle Maisto is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.

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