Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc vs. Apple iPhone 4 – Review

by Jerry D on February 5, 2011

In 2010, few smartphones were good enough to seriously challenge the Apple iPhone 4. But this year, we’ve already seen some real contenders including the new Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.

But how good is it? Which phone would walk away if we gave both them a gun and told them to shoot it out? The result might surprise you…

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc versus graphic Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc vs. Apple iPhone 4   Review iPhone 4


Let’s talk wireless connectivity, shall we? The ambitious Xperia Arc includes 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP. Apple has jammed its handset with 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR. Looks like a draw to me… (1-1)

Size & Weight:

Get the tape measure out and the Xperia Arc measures 125.0 x 63.0 x 8.7mm. In comparison, the wildly popular iPhone 4 is 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm. The iPhone 4 is the shorter of the two phones by 9.8mm. The iPhone 4 is beefier than its opponent, weighing 137g. In contrast, the Xperia Arc weighs 117g.

Last year, Apple proclaimed that the iPhone 4 was the world’s thinnest smartphone. The Xperia Arc, which measures a mere 8.7mm at its slimmest point, now begs to differ. (2-1)



The Xperia Arc is equipped with a 8.0 Megapixel camera (3264 x 2448 pixels) with autofocus, an LED flash, image stabilization, geo-tagging, face/smile detection and 720p video capture.

Unfortunately for the iPhone 4, it boasts a poorer specification, namely a 5.0 Megapixel camera, LED flash, geo-tagging, plus VGA and HD video recording (in 720p). The maximum resolution of the camera is 2592 x 1944 pixels, but size isn’t everything and the iPhone 4 takes some great photos. There’s also a second camera on the front can be used for Skype video calling/FaceTime.

Overall, the camera package on each phone has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s another tie. (2-1)


As for screen size, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc features a 4.2-inch (480 x 854) touch-sensitive LED-backlit LCD, dubbed a ‘Reality Display’. There are 409920 pixels overall, which translates to 233.333 pixels per inch. It’s easily Sony Ericsson’s best screen. But…

While the 3.5-inch touch-sensitive LCD display on Apple’s phone is smaller, the resolution knocks the Arcs socks off. It’s hard to appreciate the difference from a photo. But there are 614400 pixels onscreen here, giving the iPhone 4 a pixel density of 329.714 pixels per inch. This superior display grabs the point here, drawing the scores level. (2-2)


On the inside, the Xperia Arc boasts a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 CPU, a second generation Snapdragon that consists of a 1GHz Scorpion CPU and nimble Adreno 205 3D graphics. The iPhone 4 uses Apple’s A4 processor (based on the ARM Cortex A8). It’s also clocked at 1GHz and incorporates a PowerVR SGX 535 graphics processor. (2-2)


The Xperia Arc runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which boasts an updated UI, support for higher screen resolutions, SIP VOIP, WebM/VP8 video, NFC, support for gyroscopes and barometers, multiple cameras and (phew) improved power management. The iPhone 4 uses iOS4, the slick, icon-driven UI that needs very little introduction. Again, it’s tough to call a winner. (2-2)


Storage-wise, the top-of-the-line iPhone 4 provides more space out of the box with 32GB. This compares to the Xperia Arc’s 8GB. Plug a bigger memory card into the Xperia Arc’s microSD expansion slot and the maximum capacity rises to 32GB. Apple didn’t build an expansion slot into the iPhone 4, so 32GB is the maximum capacity. (2-2)

Battery life:

Measuring battery life has never been an exact science. So according to the spec sheets, the Xperia Arc boasts 7.0 hours of talktime, ditto the iPhone 4. Standby time is rated at 400 hours and 300 hours respectively. (2-2)


Note: The Standby time specification is an industry standard that is only intended to allow comparison of different mobile phones under the same circumstances. Power consumption in a standby state is strongly dependent on factors including: network, settings, location, movement, signal strength and cell traffic.


Final round and there’s still everything to play for. In terms of technology frills, the Xperia Arc also includes GPS/A-GPS, DLNA content sharing, Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine, Stereo FM radio with RDS, HDMI port, noise cancellation, digital compass. The iPhone 4 shows its age by only featuring GPS/A-GPS, a digital compass, 3-axis gyroscope and a TV-out. (3-2)

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc wins!

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc vs. Apple iPhone 4   ReviewAnother hard-fought fight, but in technology terms the Xperia Arc just sneaks it thanks to an unrivalled package of extras.

Look back over the various rounds and there’s very little in it. If you don’t need video calling, the Arc has a better camera. If you want the most apps, then iOS and the iPhone 4 is a real draw. Yes, the SE phone has a bigger screen, but Apple’s phone has a far better resolution.

Having superior technology doesn’t always win you the hearts and minds of consumers. The Nokia N8 is another example…

See if these two phones make our Top 10 Best Smartphones list…

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