Sony Ericsson Xperia ray Review

October 31, 2011
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One of the tiniest Android smartphones I've ever had the pleasure of working with has been in my pocket for the past few days, and that is the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray. This device is extremely small, sleek, and lightweight but that isn't all it offers. We also have an amazing screen, albeit a bit small, and the camera on the rear takes some pretty solid photos for such a small package. We have plenty of thoughts regarding this new Android 2.3 Gingerbread powered smartphone as well as plenty of photos so enjoy it all after the break.

The Xperia ray is one unique phone. Sony has gone ahead and put some very decent higher mid-range specs into an extremely small phone, slipped an awesome screen on it and wrapped it in a slim piece of aluminum and hard plastic. This may not be the biggest, fastest, or the best but it has plenty to offer although it might be best for those with smaller hands and fingers -- or for kids.

Hardware
For hardware we have a single-core 1.0 GHz Snapdragon chip, a 3.3-inch display with a 480 x 854 pixel resolution, an 8 megapixel camera on the back that will rival most, and then a 1.3 front for video chatting. We have 512MB of RAM, with a 4GB micro-SD included out of the box all inside an extremely small device that measuring around 4.3" tall and only 9.2mm thick. It's barely twice the size of the charger that was included and not much larger than a credit card.

Before I get into software or the amazing camera feel free to glance at our hands-on post, then enjoy the unboxing video below.

Sony Ericsson Xperia ray hands-on

Now that we've got a bit more acquainted lets look over the rest of the device with some up close and personal pictures. Sony was nice enough to send me this goldish white wine colored device. They also offer red, black, and white for some variety. Like I said, it's like really small guys, I'm still having a hard time wrapping my brain around it -- I love it but hate it.

Around top we have the usual 3.5mm headphone jack and smack dab in the middle is our power and wake button. The top and bottom are a black hard plastic but everything else is surrounded in gold.

Then around to the right side we have the tiny little teeny volume up/down rockers, and the micro-USB port around to the left side and that is all. Very simple, very plain but in a good way. Nothing too crazy and the design is actually really nice. The build quality is quite exceptional too.

Regarding the hardware we have a 3.3" display but it features a 480 x 854 resolution like mentioned above. Most devices under 3.5" have a lower resolution and this is both a good thing and a bad thing. The slightly higher res on this small screen gives us one of the best screen viewing experiences on an Android phone, but everything is tiny. Icons and even the on-screen keyboard are almost too small. For this reason alone the high resolution is one of my favorite, and least favorite aspects of the Xperia ray. I'm not sure I could use it daily with my medium to larger sized hands as typing on the small screen is difficult with this small and thin screen.

Software
We have Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread covered with Sony's Timescape UI, which is actually really nice and smooth. It has a few nifty animations for moving icons and stuff of that nature but everything is smooth and performs great. A few custom UI's *cough* Motorola *cough* aren't nearly as smooth, and not as pretty. We also have built-in screen capture, something I wish ALL Android phones had stock. Long press the power button up top and you have a screenshot option anywhere, anytime.

We have almost zero bloatware so that is nice. Other than a few awesome things like Sony's Music and Video Unlimited we have Facebook, Track ID for caller ID, McAfee Security, Office Suite Pro and that is all. Everything else is Sony bundled apps and games. This being the first Sony Ericsson device I've used in a while I'm extremely pleased with performance of the software and overall user experience. The UI changes slow nothing down and really enhance Android in a good way. This is one of a few UI's I'd actually consider keeping and not replacing with a custom ROM.

Performance
We wont take too much time here as we have your average 1.0 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 512 MB of RAM here so there shouldn't be any surprises on performance. We scored a very decent 1869 in Quadrant and the Vellamo benchmark results were actually what impressed me. Beating almost all single and dual-core phones to date. Not sure if this was a fluke or Sony just does it right, as I had the same results on three tests. Take the results as you will, the performance on this phone is great for the specs so I'm going to just go with it.

Camera

This teeny little phone packs an awesome 8.1 MP camera on the rear and just like most from Sony, it rocks. The auto focus and shutter speed are almost instant and is probably the fastest I've used to date on a smartphone. Seriously you can just click away and take pictures. I've snapped away a few of my puppy Chloe and of some plants around and the level of detail with or without natural lighting is extremely impressive. Motorola should definitely take notice and maybe even ask for some help from Sony Ericsson. Below is the gallery of pictures taken with the Xperia ray.

The camera records in 720p and while decent it was nothing to really write home about, the shutter speed and picture capabilities are the true performer here. The front facing camera is also 1.3 megapixels and was as to be expected, average at best. Until we get better 2MP or 3MP cameras on the front I still can't see myself using that often.

Battery Life
We have a 1500 Mah battery inside the ray and battery has also been stellar so far. Obviously the smaller 3.3" display will help conserve battery but the Bravia engine tweaks may also help as I've experienced better than average battery. Lasting almost 6 days on stand-by with minimal usage -- Yes I said 6 days. Then for daily usage of web browsing and gaming it actually lasted all day and all night on a single charge. This has some better battery life than most I've tested recently.

Wrap-Up
To wrap things up I'm going to have to finish by saying I love this phone, but I sort of hate it too. The hardware, camera, display, and even the amazingly loud and clear speakers all are excellent but overall it's just too small for me. The display was just too small and thin, the icons and on-screen keyboard were a real challenge and typing took far too long. I've posted a picture of on-screen keyboards from the ray next to the 4.3" HTC Sensation for a comparison -- it really is small.

Overall I must say this is a stellar phone. It performs great in every single area for what you pay for, except for the smaller screen. I just can't recommend it unless you have extremely small fingers, a younger person, or are a female wanting a small and compact smartphone. Sony has a great phone here that anyone will love it the size sits ok with them. If the size will not concern you then by all means, buy this phone as it truly is quite nice.

Feel free to enjoy the rest of the photos in the full size gallery below, as well as the full spec sheet near the bottom. If you like what you've seen the Xperia ray is available now from $379 from Newegg and other online retailers. Feel free to ask any questions below and I'll do my best to answer them.

[device id=1956]


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  • Lameplanet

    ” I just can’t recommend it unless you [...] are a female wanting a small and compact smartphone”

    Let the sexism roll… are females the only people who could possibly not want to carry a housebrick around in their pocket?

  • http://twitter.com/sitiarvina siti arvina

    I LIKE!!!

  • Odie

    Hey(“,)
    I would just like to know if you’ve tried Whatsapp on the Ray and how well it worked if you have? I’ve read on a few sites that poeple have had issues with it. I’m female, young and particularly small, but if the whatsapp doesn’t work well i might have to reconsider if i want a Ray.
    Thanks!

    • Giocheng68

      its good bro. everything in this phone is good as told.

    • Alex Quang

      I’ve had some issues with whatsapp, can’t get it to work! It just keeps telling me initialization isn’t working and to check my internet connection… Annoying!

  • quietplaces

    I was thinking of getting either the Xperia Ray or the Nokia 700. I use a lot of the features in a smartphone, not not that often, so a smaller device is ok for me.

    Can anyone answer a few questions please as I am new to Sony having had Nokia’s up to now.

    Is the micro sd card a standard one or a Sony type memory card?

    Can new text message reminder and calendar entries be displayed on the home screen?

    Does the Ray have a built in ‘notes’ app.

    Will it sync with Microsoft Outlook?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Anonymous

      Micro SD card is a standard one. Also the price of 16 Gb SDHC should go down now that a 32 GB SDHC has come out of the market

      New text messages can be displayed with the built in Timescape. Calendar entries can be also be showed in the screen with the calendar widget.

      In my ray it doesn’t have, but after searching through the market i found many notes application and widgets that will allow you to take notes instantly through the homescreen too and FREE.

      i don’t use outlook so i don’t know.

  • Krishan Kumar

    why does sony ericssion heat up when talking?

    • Anonymous

      try setting your phone in GSM only

      • Siddiqtv

        how can set gsm only

      • Anonymous

        Settings->Wireless & networks settings->Mobile Networks->Network Mode ->GSM only

        that should also save you more battery! :>

  • Krishan Kumar

    why does sony ericssion heat up when talking?

  • Krishan Kumar

    why does sony ericssion heat up when talking?

  • Vlezya

    Can it read and write both korean and mandarin character?

    • Anonymous

      you can install keyboards from the market! i’ve installed a japanese keyboard and works perfectly

  • Vlezya

    Can it read and write both korean and mandarin character?

  • Vlezya

    Can it read and write both korean and mandarin character?

  • unknown 123

    How to screen shot ? I cant seem to do so after pressing the power button and the options are either airplane mode, silent mode or power off 

    • Vish3120c

      You have 2 update it 2 android 2.3.4…. Ur current software might b 2.3.3

  • http://www.trafficbuilder.biz/ seo service provider

    How to screen shot ?

    • Abc123

      hold the power button and you will see it, and make sure you’re running on the latest android platform (2.3.4)

  • Siddiqtv

    good!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000608493935 Cynthia Tang

    which is better ??? xperia ray or xperia neo ~~ i cant really choose it ~~ >< give comments plz !!! thx ~~

    • farooq

      hi……..both phones r good….if its for the ladys” use pick up ray….

      • Conrad

        hey which is d bst btwn xperia ray and iphone 3gs

  • Smah3143

    I am amazed by how long you say the battery life is.  I just got one and I find the battery life to be terrible.  If I am lucky, it lasts about 10 hours. 

    • Anonymous

      try changing your network to “gsm only”, and also decrease the screen brightness, it may help

  • Subramanian Klu

    Like in nokia mobiles, does this model have “Security code lock”, for the touch screen? So that none other than you can access your mobile?

    • Abc123

      yes, its called “pattern lock”, its standard in ALL android smartphones

  • shlomi

    wow what a phone! if u hate the iphone like i do , and u don’t want a big, pocket annoying phone , this is the best choice!
    small screen ? the image is so sharp u wont even notice it small . camera is good 8.1+ HD video, front camera is cool for skype , fast processor , very smart system and the design … IM IN LOVE !
    just install a better keyboard , and this phone is perfect

    note – if u live in the US buy the st18a not the st18i and u will be able to get at&t 3g , both models can work with at&t and T-Mobile voice and text and 2g internet

  • daisydaisy

    Smart, smart phone :) I’ve had my Ray for nearly a month now, and I’m still finding new features.. I went for this phone because of it’s size and high spec – I’m not a fan of the big Iphone / Galaxy slabs, which seem to me to be more like tablets & are not as portable for my lifestyle.. my Ray fits in my jeans pocket, with flexicover, and it has just as much functionality as the bigger phones! People with bigger fingers will probably struggle with it, particulalry the text type interface, but you can download an alternative.

    High end build quality & features… class act!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003075978756 Sufia Pe

    have had it for about a month now.still getting used to it but 5 stars ALL the way! nothing bad to say about the ray except for the kinda slippery cover it has got. But overall a really nice phone! love it! go grab this baby :)

  • arul jothi

    cannot see a website like this and you want down the core and crafted the post in ur unique manner..
    check mine too
    http://info.myjoyz.com/?p=216 

  • Poojabhurke

    i think the front camera is VGA. thats what it says on all d other sites.

  • Mxbonde

    How can I make a screenshot??

    • GVR

      To make a screenshot, press and hold the power button along with the volume key down.

      • Sofian

        It doesn’t work with me?

  • Conrad

    hey which is d bst btwn xperia ray and iphone 3gs

    • Fawaz

      always ray

  • MANIGANDAN ARUMUGAM

    xperia ray is better than 3GS

  • tonymaster

    rocket in your pocket

  • seth77

    Can anyone tell me what race is that cute dog??

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UX7RZKVOEGCYGBAIZOJJTVZE2E Toma

    just ordered one

  • Venkatesh R

    Just ordered one on Ebay.. 

  • Nuskyhiphop

    can used skype video calls ?

  • http://whatsappandroid.net/ WhatsApp For Android

    xperia ray is better than 3GS

  • Shravan

    can we use the LED flash for capturing pictures and videos?

  • neal

    m using ray and m happy by having it

  • abiysis

    stylish, sexy and great performance

  • David Canadian

    I’ve had this phone for about a month. It’s upgraded to ICS. It’s a pretty good phone. Depends what you want to compare it to. Compared to an Iphone 4s, it is a bit slower, a little less snappy. The camera takes great pictures in bright daylight, and pretty good pictures otherwise. The screen is amazing to look at. It’s not a big phone. I mainly use it to check emails, light web browsing, and messaging. Being that this is my first smartphone, I’m happy.

  • george jave velleza

    my xperia ray can’t use the front camera teach me how to fix this problem pls/

  • Kavi

    Hi, I am going to buy a xperia ray. Is it good or bad?
    Plz tell me. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dr.chayon Imran Khan Chayon

    when i turn on my Bluetooth then it restarts repeatedly………..how can i solve this………..using ICS