Dropping a smartphone is something anyone wants to avoid as these phones are so fragile that one drop literally means it’s broken for good. However, packing water resistance and dust proofing features plus its rugged feel, the Sony Ericsson Xperia active is one smartphone that’s aiming to be different. Apart from being rugged and smart, it is aimed at fitness junkies too as it comes with pre-installed fitness apps and an arm pouch for running out of the box. So will this phone win its own group of fans?

Measuring in at 3.62 x 2.17 x 0.65 inches, albeit being small it is still that tiny bit chunky.  At a time when phone makers are racing to fit huge screens on their phones, Sony Ericsson Xperia active isn’t following suit with its 3 inch LCD display which gives a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. This shows Sony’s commitment with this phone lies elsewhere and that is to provide a rugged phone that can take a hit or a dip now and then. Around the screen you will find a silver metal rim and depending on your color version a nice color detail to go with the metal rim.

On the front, under the screen are the three capacitive buttons, one to go back, another to go home and one to open up your menu.  Also on the front and above the screen, there is a LED notification light, light sensor and an in call speaker. On the right of the phone is the volume rocker and dedicated button for your camera. Meanwhile on the left is your power button. Proving to be a rugged phone, the Sony Ericsson Xperia active protects its standard audio jack as well as microUSB port with weather sealed flaps. Turn the phone over and there sits a 5MP auto focus camera which comes with a LED flash as well. The phone offers a tiny bit of customization in its design with the back cover which you can change between black or pearly white.


The Sony Ericsson Xperia active is definitely not going to get any complains for its choice of OS as its running on the Android v2.3.4 Gingerbread. What’s makes it even more pleasant is the 1GHz processor onboard that proves to be able to withstand all the tasks thrown at it at impressive speeds too. There are no problems running all your favorite apps on this phone.

Sony Ericsson is known for coming up with its own UI for its phones and seeing that this is a phone with a smaller screen, it has decided to stick with the similar UI we have seen on the Sony Ericsson Xperia mini which has proven to be great for use on a smaller screen. Some of the things we find cool on this UI is the shortcut screen corners that when clicked expand to display up to four shortcuts and we also like the fact that you can use a T9 portrait keyboard which also QWERTY keyboard use in landscape mode. We definitely liked the on-screen portrait keyboard but for those who have bigger fingers they would rather use the landscape QWERTY keyboard for a comfortable typing experience. As we had mentioned previously, the Sony Ericsson Xperia active is also aimed at fitness junkies and to do that, they provide apps like WalkMate and iMapMyFITNESS. The former works like a pedometer and keeps track of your steps while the latter is a complex app that helps you keep fit by keeping tabs on your workouts and nutrition. You can also interface iMapMyFITNESS to a heart-rate monitor that needs to be bought separately. There are also other apps that come out of the box like Sony Ericssons standards like TimeScape and LiveWare and these apps can now get their respective plug ins from the Android Market.

It’s a tiny phone and it’s got a tiny 3 inch LCD screen to go with it. The screen on the Sony Ericsson Xperia active sports a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels and comes with Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine to improve the graphics you get off this screen.  Another cool addition to the screen is the wet-finger tracking system which as the name suggests allows you to use the screen even when your screen or finger is wet.  The screen also has some good viewing angles although it loses out a little in terms of brightness.

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This phone comes with a 5MP camera on the back which can also be used to record 720p videos. The camera interface is much like the Sony Cybershot camera UI but it is refreshing and we liked it. It allows you to customize the interface such that you keep the most used functions on top. Photos taken on this camera we decent although we would preferred more detail and better colors. When indoors, the LED flash doesn’t do so well in helping improve how the photos turn out. Recording videos in 720p were also lacking detail. This camera however provides a 3D camera app which allows you to take 3D photos on a single lens camera.

We like browsing the internet on the Sony Ericsson Xperia active but after some time, the 3 inch screen comes in the way as you have to do a lot of navigation to be able to make everything out of each web page. So we recommend it for simple use rather than prolonged surfing. However, navigation we must add was good on this phone plus the Android browser comes with Flash support. The Sony Ericsson Xperia active is a global phone as its on the quad bang GSM network and it also provides all the usual connectivity like GPS, Bluetooth, DLNA and of course Wi-Fi.

This phone was able to gives us great signal strength but fails tremendously in terms of call quality. The in-call speaker produces muffled audio almost always and when you are in a place that has a lot of background noise, you can forget about making anything out of your conversation. The battery on this phone is a 1200mAh one and Sony rates it to give about 5 hours of talk time. This is just an average rating but on average use, a small unit such as this one will take you through a whole day.


Pros and Cons

This smartphone is very solid with its waterproof and dustproof features. The Sony Ericsson Xperia active also has some pre-installed fitness apps that were good to use.

This phone has a miserable call quality and the camera on the Sony Ericsson Xperia active could definitely have been better.

If you are an outdoors person and have had trouble keeping your smartphone for longer than a week, you have found your soul mate with the Sony Ericsson Xperia active.

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