Xperia Ray: a scaled down Xperia Arc?

Sony Ericsson's Xperia Ray looks for all the world like a miniaturised Arc and, for the most part, that's exactly what it is, although the Ray squirrels away a very respectable 1GHz processor, the Mobile BRAVIA Engine found in the Arc, Sony Eric’s 'Facebook inside Xperia' bespoke social networking integration and Google’s latest smartphone OS iteration: Gingerbread.

But if the Xperia Ray has one killer app, it’s the 8.1MP camera that utilises Sony’s Exmor R sensor that’s twice as sensitive in low-light as a standard front-lit CMOS number. Pin-sharp images are the order of the day here. Images that need an impressive screen to really show them off...

Xperia Ray's Mobile Bravia Engine

So it’s a good job that the Ray can rely on Sony’s Bravia LCD pedigree. You feel like you’re in safe hands when you hear the words ‘Mobile Bravia Engine’, and the 4.2 inch touchscreen doesn’t disappoint, delivering crisp, vibrant images despite its relatively modest 854x480-pixel resolution.

With screen real estate at a premium, there’s no room for a full QWERTY in portrait mode on Sony Ericsson's Xperia Ray, so you'll have to make do with a standard, albeit virtual, alphanumeric keypad. Turn the phone to landscape, though, and you're gifted a QWERTY with keys roomy enough for all but the most sausage-fingered.

And that lack of screen real estate hampers the Ray’s gaming experience somewhat. With the current propensity for in-game screen swiping, the menu and back controls are uncomfortably close to the screen’s edge, meaning you’ll regularly quit out or summon a menu you’d really rather not have waded into.

Xperia Ray battery life

In battery terms, the Xperia Ray acquits itself reasonably well. Whereas a Samsung Galaxy S II or HTC Sensation will be lucky to scrape a full day's power with a decent amount of use, the Ray comfortably manages a dusk-till-dawn stint. Yes it’ll need a charge every night, but show us a smartphone worth its onions that doesn’t and we'll show you a picture of a cat eating some jam. Seriously.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray is by no means the answer if you’re a power user that wants all the bells and whistles of a fully-fledged touchscreen smartie. If that’s your bag, then the aforementioned Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, Samsung Galaxy S II, Motorola Atrix, or any number of high-end HTC handsets are what you’re after. But the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray breaks from the approaching wave of supersized smartphones to prove that small can still be beautiful.

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Stuff says... 

Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray review

Sony Ericsson successfully shrinks the smartphone with the Xperia Ray. The potent 'baby Arc' holds its own against full-size rivals