The Xperia Arc leaked yesterday, hours before Sony Ericsson could officially announce the handset at its press conference at CES 2011.

Today we were invited to an official demonstration by Sony Ericsson to take a look at the device, run it through its paces, snap it’s sleek 9mm body and generally see how the company intends on pushing its Android smartphone range further.

DSCF1304wtmk 620x395 TNW First Look: Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

Introduction

Sony Ericsson are keen to reiterate its commitment to supporting its customers, offering up the latest Android Gingerbread, supporting future updates when Google makes them available. We were able to get clarification that Sony Ericsson will not look to support the X10 range moving forward, so don’t expect to get a Froyo or Gingerbread update in the future.

Sony Ericsson’s aim with the Xperia Arc is to create a smartphone that is “best in class” with the intention of being the world’s most entertaining smartphone.

Launching in Q1 2011, the Arc will bring exciting new technologies into a smartphone for the very first time.

Features

The Xperia Arc has an “innovative” concave arc rear, at its thinnest part it measures just 8.7mm. This would have made it the world’s thinnest smartphone if LG hadn’t announced the Optimus Black. It sports an extra wide 4.2-inch multi-touch Reality Display as well as incorporating Sony’s Bravia TV technology with the Mobile Bravia Engine (more on this later).

Sony also provides its Exmor R technology which allows Arc owners to capture high quality pictures and videos in the lowest of lights, with its 8.1 megapixel camera, all within its Gingerbread operating system (which has been tweaked to incorporate Sony Ericsson’s patented media user interfaces).

The Xperia Arc is the first smartphone to harness Sony’s Bravia Engine, a video filter running on the device that can reduce video noise, increase sharpness, add its own brand of colour management and contrast enhancement. When asked whether the Bravia Engine would decrease battery life, Sony Ericsson executives noted it would not affect battery performance, also mentioning that users would be able to switch the engine on or off to their liking.

Exmor R, looks to brighten up user videos that are shot in low-light, bringing clarity and increased detail to videos. Again, it’s the first smartphone to feature this technology, really pulling at Sony’s electronic expertise .

The Xperia Arc will come in two flavours – Misty Silver and Midnight Blue, we only got to see the blue model in our demonstration.

When asked whether the Arc would form any part of Sony Ericsson’s push into Playstation gaming, executives quickly stopped us in our tracks and said games would be available via the Android Market but not via Sony’s upcoming Playstation platform. NFC won’t appear either, at least in the current range of smartphones, but the company is definitely looking into the technology.

DSCF1314wtmk 620x465 TNW First Look: Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

The handset is powered by a single-core processor, we wanted to know why Sony Ericsson would release a new phone with just one the one core when all of its competitors were chasing Nvidia’s dual core Tegra 2 processor. Sony Ericsson still believe the dual-core processors aren’t yet proven, at least in their current state.

The Arc’s HDMI-out function makes it the first Android device to offer a complete mirror of what is on the phone screen at the time. Put in the HDMI cable, connect it to the TV and you have full Android goodness on your TV.

Sony Ericsson’s phone is super slick and very sexy, it’s a definite move away from being the fastest or the thinnest, instead looking to position the device as the best looking smartphone for the features it possesses. Sony Ericsson has uncoupled its UI improvements from Android to allow for speedy upgrades when new Android firmware is released, it looks like the company has learnt from its mistakes with the X10 range.

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