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Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray review

 Review: September 2011  

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The Sony Ericsson Ray is a stunningly beautiful and slender smartphone that easily deserves 5 stars.

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While other manufacturers are intent on developing bigger and bigger smartphones, Sony Ericsson are quietly carving out a niche for themselves in smaller Android smartphones. The SE Xperia Ray is a fine example of the "small is beautiful" philosophy. Just 9.4mm thin, the ray looks gorgeous, and with a solid aluminium frame it feels gorgeous in the hand too.

In the current Sony Ericsson lineup, the ray slots its svelte body somewhere between the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini and the Xperia Arc. It's a much more capable phone than the Mini, and much slimmer too, and feels like a more expensive product. It lacks the big LCD screen of the Arc, but is a much smaller phone, perfect for smaller hands and tighter jeans pockets. It's very light for a smartphone too - at 100g - despite the use of metal in its construction. Yet it feels like a quality product through and through.

The ray runs the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system, with its well known ease of use and customisability. There are something like 200,000 apps available for Android now, from skins to keyboards to games and virtual reality browsers. Messaging is well integrated using Sony Ericsson's Timescape interface, which intelligently brings together all your messaging and contacts, including email, instant messaging, facebook and twitter. There's a choice of virtual QWERTY and 12-key alphanumeric keyboards. The Ray also supports 3D motion gaming, letting you control the game by turning and swinging the phone, as well as using the touchscreen.

The display is nothing short of stunning. Although it's rather small by smartphone standards (3.3 inches), it's big enough for the job, and it retains the high 480 x 854 pixel resolution of the Arc, giving it a spectacularly detailed display. This is enhanced further still by Sony's Reality Display technology with BRAVIA, which displays images and videos with crisp, smooth precision and glorious colours.

Connectivity isn't a problem for the Ray. Not only does it support three bands of 3G/HSPA for fast data access, but it's also a quadband GSM phone, so you can use it anywhere on Earth. Put the Ray in a Wi-Fi zone and you'll enjoy even faster data access. There's also USB and Bluetooth as well as a 3.5 mm audio jack for plugging in your headphones. DLNA lets you connect wirelessly to devices such as DLNA-certified TV's. You can easily sync with Microsoft® Exchange email server.

The ray comes with an aGPS receiver, naturally. Being an Android phone, you'll find Google Maps pre-installed and thoroughly integrated into the user interface, so you can geo-tag your photos and check into facebook, as well as looking at a map to find out where you actually are.

There's a nice fast 1GHz processor under the bonnet. Whilst it's not the fastest in town, it's more than fast enough to power a device like the ray, and the user interface responds to the touch without blinking. The available memory isn't the best in this price range though. Like its cousins, the Xperia Arc and the Xperia Neo, Sony Ericsson have under-equipped the onboard memory of the Ray, giving it less than 300MB of user memory. A 4GB microSD card is supplied with the phone, but when you consider the price, this isn't very generous. But this phone isn't really targeted at high-end techy users, so it probably won't be too much of an issue in practice.

The Ray's camera is a real thoroughbred. It's one of the best cameras on a phone, making use of Sony's wealth of expertise in the digital camera world. With an 8.1 megapixel resolution, LED flash, and Sony's Exmor R™ for mobile CMOS sensor, it's capable of taking high quality images under most lighting conditions. Add in a ton of gadgets including touch autofocus, face detection, smile detection and image stabilisation, and you've got a top-notch still camera. It can even zoom up to 16x. The video recording capabilities are equally impressive, with 720p HD video recording. A video light and video stabilisation help this to fully live up to expectations. There's also a secondary front-facing camera for video calling.

When it comes to playing music, once again the Ray comes out on top. The fully featured music player delivers great sound thanks to the xLOUD audio engine, which does what its name suggests. And with features like album art, TrackID (to identify a track by name and artist) and PlayNow (download music to your phone) you've got a music device to rival an iPod. There's 4GB of memory available - enough to store a thousand MP3 songs - and you can expand this to 32GB if you need more. Call quality is excellent too, with a clear loudspeaker and with voice clarity further enhanced by a built-in noise shield.

The ray uses the same WebKit web browser that we've seen on other Xperia phones recently. It's a good browser, that's easy to use with pinch and zoom capability, and is very responsive thanks to the fast processor and the HSDPA / Wi-Fi data access. There's flash video support and you can watch youtube clips via a dedicated youtube app. A screen this size is never going to be ideal for web browsing, but hey, you wanted a small phone, right? It's a necessary compromise.

When it comes to battery life, most smartphones disappoint. Ultra-slim Android phones that don't weigh very much make us especially nervous. But, what a pleasant surprise, Sony Ericsson have had the foresight to equip the ray with a 1500mAh battery - one of the biggest on any phone. And with a relatively small screen to power, you'll find that you probably get a couple of days' use out of it between charges. OK, one day if you use it all the time. But as smartphones go, it's pretty good.

So, we come to the end of our review, and we're still loving the ray just as much as when we first picked it up and marvelled at its slimness and beauty. If you're looking for a phone that does everything a smartphone can do, but want it to be slender and beautiful at the same time, then we think you've arrived at your destination.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray features include:

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray user reviews

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Average rating from 31 reviews:

Reviewed by Duncan from France on 22nd Apr 2014
Had this as a work phone for a couple of years, and I have to say I've really come to dislike it!

Pros: small size, good battery life (for a smartphone...not compared to my 8 year old Nokia!)

Cons: horrible Sony user interface (as with a previous Sony phone I had..), unresponsive touch screen (drives you crazy when you're in a rush!), basic function flaws (like no re-send function for texts!), poor reception compared to my other phones, only average camera, speaker quality deteriorated rapidly from new..

Reviewed by Rao Bilal from Pakistan on 12th Mar 2014
Love this phone

Reviewed by Leighanne from england on 21st Aug 2012
I loved this brilliant little phone from the minute i got it but now there are a few little things that are making me want to replace it after only 4mths.

PROS - excellent battery life, pocket sized, great functions, just the right amount of screen sensitivity, fantastic price & really easy to navigate.

CONS - texts don't write out as fast as i can press the buttons (never an issue on my previous phones), camera takes too long to take a photo sometimes & low built in memory. My main issue though is that if i'm using it too long (especially web browsing & game playing) the back heats up to a worrying level and that's after only 15mins continuous use.

Reviewed by steve from england on 24th Jun 2012
This Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray. Although the size of the handset and it's basic Andriod ran functions are adequate, this unit suffers badly with signal issues. I have an old HTC Desire as my private mobile, this always delivers where ever i am in the country.

The Battery is ok, camera reasonably decent quality.

The question is would you have another? No definately not until the siganl drop issues are resolved.

Reviewed by THEIN from BURMA on 18th May 2012
Display is absolutely stunning ! Feels good to handle. Touch response is extremely good. Connectivity is excellent especially in a country where signals tend to be weak. Camera yields very high quality pics and battery lasts for about two days with moderate use. Unfortunately the supplied battery in this part of the world is just 1350mAh and not 1500mAh as mentioned. So far the performance is simply outstanding !!

Reviewed by Cuzza from UK on 1st May 2012
Best value for money. Great camera, although only has flash light. Good solid software. Runs other launchers fantastically. Battery will typically last 2 days after moderate use but only a day after heavy use which is fairly respectable when compared to other phones. Very slim and well built and would recommend to anyone.

Reviewed by Callum from England on 24th Apr 2012
This phone is the best phone ive had since i smashed up my galaxy s2, even without the dual core this phone is slick and fast enough, battery life is awesome, i would recommend this phone to anyone.
Soon to have the ice cream sandwich update, be better with this, the only thing i would say is a little wrong with it, if your playin music out loud the sony logo blocks up the speaker a little so you dont get the full volume.
other than than its awesome.

Reviewed by aiman94 from Malaysia on 22nd Apr 2012
like this phone..slim but powerful..most trusted brand..

Reviewed by arno from uk on 21st Apr 2012
have official ics on my ray runs really well no problems not bad as samsung have not bothered

Reviewed by Susan from UK on 11th Apr 2012
I thought I'd done my research, but the number of factory installed useless apps - why would anyone need 3 clocks? no-one can apparently remove, that seem to drain power make me really disappointed and as I'm contracted I'm stuck. Afraid the sim has gone back in my old phone!
I hoped for a phone with a reminder function,a calender and an alarm that works when the handset is off or is that really just a nokia trick I'm just completely disappointed.

Reply by geoff from UK on 17th Apr 2012
I gave this phone 5 stars here a couple of months ago and don't want to go back on that but Susan is right about the 3 clocks and other stuff Sony has put on this otherwise good phone. A month ago Sony sent out an update to 4.0 which I thought was ICS. Turned out to be sony's own build update which has added even more of their own bloat to take up another 20Mb of memory for stuff I dont want and won't use. Worse still it has made battery life worse,Maps app is always doing its own thing, the weather app always says Unavailable and if I try to refresh it it says it can't be done because my home town doesn't exist and there's no such place as the UK!!!!! It's got 15 Sony and Google apps asking to be updated, I never use 12 of them and if I updated the Sony apps the old versions can't be uninstalled but the updated ones can!?!? When I contacted o2 they advised me to leave the phone as it is pending their ICS update due out in a few weeks. Fine,okay......then I discover Sony has put out a statement on their blog telling Xperia customers how good their Gingerbread is and asking customers to think very carefully if they really want to risk installing ICS on our phones!!! Not "don't install it" just think about it before we do install it. ICS potential was one of the key selling points of the 2011 Xperia range and now they're not even confident they can make it work on their phones with 512Mb RAM. I still say it's a great little phone but Sony hasn't done us or themselves any favours and their falling share prices don't surprise me. If they really care about their customers they could make amends by letting US decide what apps and how many clocks we want to have or get rid of on our phones.

Reply by John from UK on 24th Jun 2012
Why not download an app that lets you romove other apps you do not want? Its that simple!

Reviewed by pauline from uk on 30th Mar 2012
I,ve had this phone nearly a year and my only complaint is loss of signal in middle of calls. My husband has same phone and his signal will show 4 bars when mine shows none . This is hapenning more and more ,anyone else with same problem? We are both on vodafone

Reviewed by Tommy Simms from Northumberland UK on 23rd Mar 2012
Absoletly brilliant has radio messages youtube internet google play cool apps satnav maps

Reviewed by Julie R from Shropshire, UK on 29th Feb 2012
I have had this phone a week now and love it. It is a great size, fantastic screen and does so much. Go and buy, you won't be disappointed.

Reviewed by Geoff from England on 17th Feb 2012
I've had this phone for a month now and I love it. Coming from an HTC Wildfire I'm happy with the screen size, I don't need or want a massive phone in my pocket. I've put a gel case and screen protector on it because Sony only claim "toughened glass" for the screen and it doesn't have the same quality feel as an HTC which is still pristine after 15 months without any protection. I'm on o2 and have a poor 3g connection where I live but put the Ray on wifi and its lightening fast. Where I can get a good 3g connection its adequate but disappointing compared to wifi. Call quality is very good, ditto for text and email.It has far too much bloat from Sony including something called Sony Sync Service which tells me it was discontinued on 29th December 2011 but which takes up 1.44MB memory. Added to which is all the junk from o2 clogging up the phone that I can't get rid of unless someone out there knows a way? I think a good question to ask anyone is "would you still buy the phone now you've used it for a month?" and I have to say that I would. I think I've been spoiled by HTC Sense and have had to spend time finding apps on the Market to replace stuff I've taken for granted from HTC. But the Ray has more than double the memory capacity of my Wildfire, the battery gives a good two days of moderate use and I'm very happy with my choice.

Reviewed by Glyn from UK on 29th Jan 2012
By far the best phone I have eve owned. Thank you Sony, absolutely faultless!

Reviewed by John Duffy from uk on 26th Jan 2012
a truly superb phone - absolutely brilliant - so much in a small space - my baby!

Reviewed by Rob from UK on 25th Jan 2012
I have had this phone for 3 months now and it is the best I have ever owned. It is also great value. I have had no technical problems whatsoever. It is fast and responsive with a beautiful display and it looks good. So I will highlight the less good things though I find this phone outstanding: the camera is great in good light, not so brilliant in low-light; the battery can drain pretty rapidly if use is heavy (nothing unique about this); some with larger fingers may find the screen a bit small for easy texting.

Reviewed by Jem from UK on 16th Jan 2012
This phone is let down by regular reboots and signal loss. I currently have a second handset on order as my first one started playing up 4 days after receiving it I am waiting to see if I just got a bad one. Having read other reviews on this phone the random restarts are a major issue. My handset does that and also will not detect my sim card and has damaged the sim itself. On advice from Orange I tried another sim in the handset it worked for a few mins then said No service No sim I then put that sim back into its original handset and got the same error message. So now I have a dead ray and two dead sims.

Reply by jonathan from uk on 27th Mar 2012
i have had similar problems with the ray not with the reboots but the signal loss. I am a mobile service engineer and rely on my phone but ever since i have had the ray i loose more calls than i make. I find it interesting that you are on orange too and wonder if its a problem with their setup but iv now had 3 new phones and nearly 4 sim cards and im loosing patience i should be getting it replaced with a different type of phone as i cant take it any more!!!

Reviewed by TOM from UK on 16th Jan 2012
A good looking phone with a stunning display and great camera, definately 1 of the best phones on the market just now. If you're on the lookout for a new phone just now, this is the phone to get. And for a smartphone, the battery life is better than most as well .

Reviewed by derek from scotland on 14th Jan 2012
no problems with the phone and pleased to date with every aspect of the phone.

Reviewed by Andrew from UK on 8th Dec 2011
My first android phone and Iím rather impressed. My wife has a Galaxy S2, which I love, but itís HUGE - women tend to keep their keys, wallet, phone etc in their handbag, whereas men often keep their stuff in their trouser pocket. Sure you can pocket the S2 (or some of the even bigger smart phones now on the market), but with all the other stuff I keep in there, a bulky smart phone would just get in the way. In this respect the Ray fits the bill perfectly as its profile is very similar to the candy bar handsets of old (slimmer than most though). This means that even though its design and small size suggest it would appeal to women, the size is actually a plus point for blokes who donít want a half-tablet in their pocket. (Iíve bought a shell for it which machos it up nicely). The choices for people like me are quite limited Ė mainly the Galaxy Ace, the Xperia mini/pro, the Wildfire S and the Ray. All of the others are somewhat under-specíd (camera and processor), whereas the Ray is basically SEís previous top of the range phone (the Arc) squeezed into a smaller shell. The only issue for clumsy, big fingered oafs like me is the small keyboard (even in landscape mode), but you can download keyboard apps which will compensate (the advances in predictive text are incredible). Ultimately the best phone (in terms of capabilities) isnít always the best phone for a particular individual Ė however in itís class (small smart phones) the Ray is the best on the market right now.

Reviewed by David P from U.K. on 28th Nov 2011
A really good compact Android phone. I've had a couple of other in the past and this is miles ahead of them. Very light, good looking, beautiful high resolution screen (high compared to say the Wildfire S or Samsung Galaxy Ace) and excellent battery life. I get two days with average use. Could probably get more if I wasn't syncing email/fb. I've had it three weeks so far and the only problem has been a couple of mysterious reboots after I've finished a call. Don't know whether it's a software thing or because I put the phone down and maybe jarred the battery a little bit (Xperia Arc had similar "loose battery syndrome"), but it's only happened twice. Otherwise it's been perfect.

Reviewed by KK HON from Malaysia on 27th Nov 2011
beautiful phone with nice features , fit nicely in my pocket and very light. battery life is good and camera shots are excellent. Audio is average but loudness is ok. goodaccesories include car charger and cool looking ear phones. Definitely a good buy but on board RAM size is not enough.

Reviewed by Martin from Netherlands on 13th Nov 2011
I've done a lot of research before buying my phone, looked at some of the phones that looked interesting to me and checked their specs. When I came along the Xperia Ray it seemed like an amazing phone to me, not too big and the design is great. So I went ahead and bought it, the first time turning on the phone I got a few logos including a T-Mobile one. As soon as it was started up completely I saw all kinds of German T-Mobile applications that I can't uninstall in any way. Still did not let this bother me and went ahead and downloaded a game that I really like playing, but the phone seems to be too slow to be able to handle the game which was a huge disappointment. Other than that it has difficulty running most applications, Youtube always runs into many errors, not really worth 5 stars to me. Even Go Launcher EX does not work on this phone because of its limited RAM. So I end up giving it 3 stars.

Reviewed by daniel from uk on 2nd Nov 2011
I'm super fussy and do my research before purchasing anything. (I can't afford not too) This phone is everything I hoped it would be, doesn't disappoint in any way. I am astonished that it is so good, and also about the cheapest smart phone on the market, and at a size that is perfect for me. (it replaced a stolen nokia 6700) Really, this phone is amazing.

Reviewed by Dave from England on 26th Oct 2011
The best phone on the market today. You would be hard pressed to find a phone that looks this good and performs to such a high standard in every department. . Amazing.

Reviewed by Vince from UK on 17th Oct 2011
Great little phone, small, fast and cheap! Can't knock it. Lots of handy widgets to save energy, such as screen brightness, wifi, bluetooth, gps... So the battery can last a couple of days easily.

Reviewed by Malcolm from UK on 8th Oct 2011
Had this phone for just over a month now and still learning new things about it. The camera is excellent and can cope very well with taking photos indoors during the evening. My only gripe has been with headphone support. The in-ear phones that are supplied are good but I prefer closed ear phones and when I tried to plug them in they weren't supported???????? Overall an excellent handset and I would recommend it to anybody bar those with gargantuan hands :-)

Reviewed by talha from england on 3rd Oct 2011
superb sensational sppedy phone with brilliant camera and android os. breathtaking graphics and sound. love it!!

Reviewed by jim from essex on 2nd Oct 2011
utterly gorgeous little baby. so nice to use and feels very, very classy. well done Sony!!

Reviewed by john from india on 30th Sep 2011
best smart phone on the market

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