Product Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray
Specifications 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 1GB storage, 3.3in 480x854 TFT display, 8MP rear camera, Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, 53x111x9.4mm, 100g.
Price £249 SIM free or free from £26 on Vodafone
PHONE MAKER Sony Ericsson has been a bit hit and miss with its phones, but thankfully the Xperia Ray is one of the firm's better Android-based devices.
Like its bigger brother, the Xperia Arc, the Xperia Ray has a sleek, simplistic and attractive design. It is a compact phone without being too small to use. The front is glossy black like normal but the buttons are different with a large semi-circle home push button together with back and menu touch buttons on either side. We prefer this to the layout on the Xperia Arc and the Xperia Play. A neat touch is that the notification light goes around the home button in a curve.
The Xperia Ray doesn't have a curved back like the Xperia Arc but it is still comfortable to hold, being small, thin and light at 9.4mm and 100g. It has an aluminium frame, which gives it a sturdy and solid feel. Our model had gold colour trim and rear case, but black, pink and white are available, if bling isn't your cup of tea.
A centralised power button is on top of the handset with a headphone socket to the right. On the right hand side of the phone is the volume rocker, which is extremely small but still usable. All of this fits in with the style and look of the phone, but we were disappointed with the ugly gaping hole that is the microUSB port on the left hand side of the phone, which spoils the look a bit.
The Xperia Ray has a 3.3in touchscreen that has impressive 480x854 resolution. This is the same resolution as the Xperia Arc, which has a screen nearly an inch larger.
Sony Ericsson prides itself on its ‘Reality Display with Bravia Engine', which is present on most of the Xperia family of smartphones. Although the name might sound like meaningless marketing jargon, the screen is seriously decent. It has a pixel density of almost 300ppi, which isn't far off the 326ppi of the Iphone 4. Everything looks crisp and clear on the Xperia Ray screen, which is also scratch resistant.
We weren't just impressed with the screen, as the phone has high-end specifications, considering the reasonable price tag. First, the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor provides impressive performance, despite being a single core chip. Responsiveness is just as good as higher end rivals on the market.
Alongside the processor are 512MB of RAM and 1GB of internal storage, which is a little on the lean side. Sony Ericsson does however include a 4GB microSD card with the Xperia Ray, so you've got a little bit of extra room for music or video. However, many users will want to invest in a higher capacity memory card.
In terms of cameras, the Xperia Ray comes with a VGA snapper on the front and an 8.1MP camera with LED flash and Sony's Exmor R sensor on the back. The rear camera impressed us with its results, just like the one on the Xperia Arc did. You can shoot at 8MP in a 4:3 aspect ratio or go down to 6MP for a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The rear facing camera produced excellent photos with good clarity and colour to the shots we took. The Exmor R sensor helped to ensure that poor light didn't ruin pictures. Video footage was also good at HD 720p and the image stabiliser helped produce smoother video. We would have liked to have had a camera shutter button like the Xperia Arc has, though.