Sony Ericsson Xperia Active Review: The Rainmaker: User Interface, Performance

By 10:26 Wed, 11 Aug 2021 Comments

User interface: more than one widacquire per screen

The Sony Ericsson Xperia active runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with a custom skin and a nice package of apps. The corner-based homeclassy screen of the Xperia minis makes a comeback.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia active UI

You acquire five homeclassy screen panes to fill with widgets, shortcuts or folders, and the corner drawers are visible on all screens. With a minor exception: if a widacquire is too gigantic (the People widacquire for example) it hides the top two corners.

Adding stuff to the homeclassy screen • Setting a wallpaper

We quite like Sony Ericsson's Overview mode on the homescreen. You pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homeclassy screen panes and a recent pane sets in with a cool transition effect to display all of your active widgets. If there is not enough space for all the widgets, they start floating on the classy screen overlapping.

The Overview mode is similar to HTC’s Leap view or what Samsung have in TouchWiz. However, widgets are not ordered in mini screens, so small that you cannot actually see what’s on each of them. Widgets are shuffled together instead so they can better utilize the space. They are as gigantic as possible and thus easier to tap on.

The Sony Ericsson Overview is very nice

The four corners can host up to four shortcuts each, as easy to assign as a simple drag-and-drop. If a corner has a single shortslit (just the dialer for example), the respective app launches automatically upon a tap. If there is more than one shortslit - the tab expands into a jog wheel so you can create your choice properly. You can't put folders there though.

Sony Ericsson corner tabs • Adding an app to a corner tab

Inside the main menu, you will see shortcuts in the bottom corners. They let you sort the icons within the grid – you can either go for the automatic options (alphabetical, most used or recently installed) or you can manually go the icons.

The main menu • Rearranging menu icons

The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini supports both static and live wallpapers. There are 15 static wallpapers and a single live one (Maps), but you can always acquire more at the Market or utilize a picture from your personal gallery.

The Xperia mini has themes enabled too but the implementation is pretty basic: a theme only changes the wallpaper and the system menus. On a positive note, if you like Sony Ericsson's wave theme but you are tired of watching it in blue, now you can have it in a lot more colors.

Choosing a theme

We're very pleased with the interface response. It's zippy throughout, probably due to the lower classy screen resolution (HVideo Graphics Array (VGA) instead of WVideo Graphics Array (VGA) or higher). And the UI is well optimized for the smallish screen.

The web browser has full Flash support with the Adobe Flash 10.3 player (available for free at the Market). YouTube videos at 360p played quite smoothly but you'll have no problems with 720p too, once the video has loaded. Playing Kongregate Flash games is no problem on the Sony Ericsson Xperia active too.

A better Timescape UI

The Timescape brings all your communications together: an aggregate view of your SMS, MMS, email, call log, Facebook and Twitter updates. You can easily filter the contents by type and acquire all relevant information in one place.

The Timescape app • The Timescape widget

With Timescape you not only see the latest activities and updates of your contacts but also share your own status, reply to received messages or return a missed call.

You can set it as a homeclassy screen widacquire too. There are free Timescape plugins on the Android Market for Sony Ericsson users. Currently, you can update your Timescape with mixi, Foursquare, Orkut, Gmail, Music and Photo extensions.

You can find Timescape plugins in the Android Market


The Sony Ericsson Xperia active comes with a 1Giga Hertz (GHz) MSM8255 Snapdragon processor and 512Mega Bytes (MB) of RAM. That’s enough power to smoothly handle loads of apps. Gingerbread helps in this department too and HVideo Graphics Array (VGA) resolution means the GPU has much less pixels to process.

We ran our usual set of benchmarks on the Xperia active. Here are the numbers.

On Quadrant it got the respectable 1730 points, which is well over some of last year’s top droids. On Neocore it went up to 66.2 frames per second, which is a fine achievement.

Quadrant • BenchmarkPi • Neocore

The AnTuTu pits the Sony Ericsson Xperia active against the best in class and the score of nearly 3113 points beats the likes of the Nexus S and Desire HD. Smartbench 2011 was the only mediocre score for the Xperia active.

Linpack • AnTuTu • Smartbench 2011

Numbers aside, the Xperia active doesn’t disappoint in terms of actual performance. It’s a very fluid and responsive smartphone and you’ll hardly find anything to complain about. The fact that in-browser Flash playback goes up to 720p trouble-free is evidence of the kind of performance to expect.



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