The Sony Ericsson Ray is one of the new mobile devices added to the Xperia range of smartphones.
The Ray has to be one of Sony’s smallest and thinnest handsets: 111.0 x 53.0 x 9.4 mm (4.4 x 2.1 x 0.4 inches).
The Ray rocks in at a lightweight: 100.0 g (3.5 oz)
Screen size: 3.3 inches
(854 x 480 pixels WVGA) with reality display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine.
Platform: Android 2.3
Ice Cream Sandwich (ICE) is promised to be coming in the future by Sony Ericsson.
Internal storage 300MB. RAM 512MB. 32GB additional memory via micro SD.
Design, Display and User Interface (UI)
The Ray arrives in a strong sturdy shell. The phone is very solid and only with the battery removed do you realize that it is a plastic casing. It feels and looks so much like real metal. The Ray simplifies itself further by having just one active home button on the front of the phone. An off/on button exists on the top of the phone alongside the 3.5 headphone socket. On the left hand side of the Ray sits the mini usb port and on the right side sits the volume rocker-switch. At the back of the phone is housed the camera lens and flash. The Ray’s minimalistic design fits in well for those who wish for a handset with the immediate facilities close to hand and not buried beneath a hoard of buttons littering the shell of the phone.
The user interface is typical across Android devices with swipe gesture input along with on-screen QWERTY keyboard capability. Pressing the home button will reveal the lock-screen, once unlocked you will be greeted with the home screen. There is a choice of 5 screen displays. The default settings on my device were the home screen with Timescape, contacts screen, media centre screen, connectivity screen and weather screen. Applications can be added or removed from the screen to suit your preference.
Text Messaging and Email
Text messaging was a delight to use with the functionality of adding media or taking a photo to upload with your immediate message. The keyboard was an enjoyable experience with the keys clear and easy to read despite the phones narrow aspect due to its screen size. I also enjoyed the hide-keyboard feature allowing you to view as much screen estate as possible when creating your message. The Ray also offers Picture messaging (MMS), conversation style messaging and instant messaging.
Email was easy to set up for my Gmail and Hotmail accounts but as with many devices the requirement for username is a bit odd, because it does not require just your username – what it is asking for is your full email address and this caused a bit of a bumpy ride until I realized the error. Synchronisation with my email could not be faster and I was very happy with the result. I have the default Sony theme and wallpaper installed and found all the applications were easy to read and the clarity of type and font made it nothing less than superb. I say this, as some of you are already aware that I hate sloppy fonts and greyed lettering but the Ray was superior in all these aspects and enabled quick and prompt replies direct form the phone without feeling the need to retreat to alternative devices.
Music & Entertainment
Sony is well-known for their music-media devices and here they did not disappoint. Music clarity was one of the best as was the music album and features on offer in the media section. Video’s made good use of the landscape aspect of the phone and the picture quality of YouTube images were non-pixelated as was the streaming. FM Radio.
Camera and Video
The Ray has an 8.1 megapixel camera with face recognition touch screen focus and geo-tagging. Digital zoom up to 16x and HD video recording of 720p, geo-tagging and video stabilizer.
I was very surprised at the Ray’s camera. I had misconceived doubts about its capability but was gladly disproved. The camera action was very fast at both accessing, focusing and shooting. The Ray in keeping with its minimalistic look does not have a separate camera button so this has to be accessed via the home key, then via the menu. It is easier just to drop a short-cut to the camera on the home screen which is what I did, giving me one touch access to my camera. The camera is ‘alive’ within a second or two of touching the icon and has a multitude of options to suit the occasion or lighting of your shots. My images were shot with the default 6M and I was very happy with the images. Though, in future I would change it to the higher option to make full use of the 8 megapixel camera. The screen estate makes full use by offering you camera options on the left side of the screen and on the right side a gallery of your most recent images. However, these are both housed to appear transparent allowing you the full screen to focus and shoot your image. Touching the screen focuses and shoots your image. It is very fast. I have attached a range of images at the end of this article for you to view. The images have been re-sized for this website but they should still be able to give you a fair idea on the camera capability. I did find that there was some noise in the quality of images of those taken in low-light but I assume using the higher megapixel option could reduce this. Images taken can be uploaded to your personal websites or blogs.
The full Internet browser offers you a quick overview of a web page or you can zoom in and out to view particular details and offers quick access to your favourites via bookmarks.
The phonebook offers default functions such as adding name, mobile numbers, and address, email, and ring tone in addition to adding new contacts to individual email accounts. Outgoing and incoming calls were very clear and the ringer and speaker more than sufficient for my requirements.
Android has one of the best facilities as a personal organization manager (PIM). Calendar manages your appointments covering your day to day arrangements, meetings and the availability to use more than one calendar.
Applications, Games and App Stores
The Android store has recently hit its 10 billionth download so there are plenty of apps to choose from in the Android Market along with games, themes and wallpapers.
The Ray has been pre-installed with Facebook and Twitter and only requires your usernames and password to make this fully functional. You have several usage options ranging from the individual applications themselves, Facebook Inside Xperia or viewing your feeds and timeline via Timescape. I have not made much use of this aspect before but it is a one-stop junction to keep up to date with your social accounts.
The app store has many games to choose from including the usual favourite of Angry Birds, Tetris and Bejeweled. The Ray comes pre-installed calculator, Office Suite and a multitude of other software and applications.
The Ray is equipped with Bluetooth, agps, Google maps, navigation, Wi-Fi, tethering and portable hotspot, voice search and power safe mode to maximize your phone’s capability when battery is getting low.
Battery talk time is up to 7 hours with a standby of up to 440 hours from the 1500 mAh.
In conclusion, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray is a smartphone that has very little to fault it. The only detraction I can really dispute is the screen size. With screen sizes getting bigger to enjoy the multi-media, social-networking, viewing and camera facilities, I found this a little detracting in my enjoyment of the device. It is a compact and small device and definitely worth purchasing if, you have no need or desire for extra screen estate. The Ray is available in Gold, Black, Pink and White.