The Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S is identical to the Xperia arc in every way apart from two internal changes: 1) the processor has been given a boost from 1GHz to 1.4GHz and 2) download speeds have improved from 7.2Mbps to 14.4Mbps (as long as your mobile operator supports it). Another difference is that the Xperia arc S comes in various colours not available on the original Xperia arc. This includes the gorgeous white Xperia arc S that we have been testing.
Since the Xperia arc S is identical in nearly every respect to the original , we won’t retread old ground compared to our recent Xperia arc (six-month) review. Instead, we will focus on what has changed and how much impact this has. Ultimately this comes down to lots of benchmarks and some real-world testing of its browser and camera functionality. Click through for our thoughts.
Xperia arc S versus Xperia arc
As mentioned above, this is not a review in the traditional sense. Please click here for our previous six-month review of the Xperia arc that covers the broader positives and negatives of the handset. These points will still apply to the Xperia arc S. What we will instead cover is how much difference the 1.4GHz processor makes over the 1GHz original in areas such as browsing and the camera. If you remember, Sony Ericsson claims that the Xperia arc S has a 20% faster browser performance and 25% faster camera start-up over the original Xperia arc.
However, whilst this may be observed in the benchmarks below, during real-world usage this performance differential is barely noticeable. The video below shows us loading a few websites and seeing the difference in camera start-up times. Yes, the Xperia arc S is faster, but in web rendering the difference is small. The Xperia arc S is also faster in starting the camera, which is more noticeable, but whether current owners will really notice the difference is questionable.
Whilst the Xperia arc S does allow faster download speeds, we were unable to see a difference with our mobile operator and therefore this difference is likely to be carrier dependent. In our testing we noticed no difference in the camera/video performance between both handsets. Battery endurance didn’t seem to be as good as the Xperia arc, lasting on average around two hours shorter compared to the Xperia arc. It’s difficult to know whether this was down to the short time conditioning the battery before writing the review or whether the higher clock speed means slightly less battery efficiency.
We did some extensive benchmark testing comparing both handsets to see how the 40 percent higher clock speed in the Xperia arc S translated to the benchmarks. This involved running ten different benchmark applications that each test various things. We did each test three times to produce an average. What we see below is that the benchmarks that are more CPU dependent show a much more significant performance gap, compared to those benchmarks that are more rounded and include a greater number of GPU tests (after all the Adreno 205 GPU is unchanged in both phones).
The AnTuTu benchmark measures overall performance of the phone looking at memory, CPU integer/floating point performance, 2D/3D graphics and database IO testing. The Xperia arc S took the crown with a 25 percentage improvement.
This is a test that is used to calculate Pi, the lower the time the better. You can see that the Xperia arc S does better again taking 758ms to calculate Pi compared to 1036ms for the Xperia arc.
GLBenchmark 2.1 focuses on graphical computation, measuring the quality and performance of the underlying OpenGL ES 2.x implementation. We ran the ‘Egypt Standard’ standard test to produce the results below. Given the heavy focus on graphic tests, we expected near enough parity in terms of performance and that is exactly what we got.
Linpack for Android
The Linpack test is more a reflection of the Android Dalvik Virtual Machine than of the floating point performance of the underlying processor. However, on the single thread test we still saw the Xperia arc S outperform by 28 percent.
NenaMark2 is a graphics benchmark for mobile devices. The Xperia arc S does score higher in this test (15.8fps), an 11 percent increase over the Xperia arc (14.1fps).
Neocore is another graphics benchmark by Qualcomm and hence we did not expect any difference in fps (frames per second). That is exactly what we see with both handsets scoring around 59fps.
The Quadrant benchmark measures a number of factors including CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance. As this is a more rounded test, you can see that the Xperia arc S saw a 12 percent improvement over the original arc.
Smartbench 2011 measures the overall performance of your smartphone. This benchmark is multi-core friendly, not that it makes any difference in our testing here. The Xperia arc S did much better than the arc here scoring a 50 percent improvement.
Vellamo is a mobile Web benchmark from Qualcomm that evaluates browser performance. We expected the Xperia arc S to outperform the original close to its CPU power differential and that is exactly what we get here, with the arc S scoring 38 percent higher.
There is no doubt that the Xperia arc S is a faster phone than the original, both in benchmarks and marginally faster in real world use. We don’t expect Xperia arc owners to upgrade, as quite simply it is not nearly enough of an upgrade. Given that Xperia arc owners with the knowhow can software overclock their handsets to 1.4GHz and above diminishes the performance impact of the arc S.
However, this phone isn’t aimed at current Xperia arc owners, it is aimed at new customers. In that regard, the Xperia arc S is a worthy phone. It comes with a super-sexy design (especially the white version) with a very respectable 1.4GHz speedy processor and a range of different colours. Given that the price point is the same as the Xperia arc, it’s pretty much a no brainer. We’ve said before that the Xperia arc S is the company’s transitionary phone before it releases its dual-core handsets and, in that regard, it is the perfect stop-gap.