Two new Android-based smartphones developed by Sony Ericssonare now available in the United States — but only through Sony Stores across the nation.
The decision to leapfrog the major U.S. network operators and sell direct means American consumers will not benefit upfront from any carrier subsidies. However, for customers shopping for a tech-savvy smartphone to use on a prepaid basis, there are now two more attractive options when it comes to buying a handset that runs Google’s Android 2.3 operating system, also known as Gingerbread.
Available for delivery in an unlocked state, the Xperia arc S and neo V are designed for use on GSM, EDGE and high speed packet access (HPSA) networks such as those operated by AT&T, T-Mobile and various regional carriers in North America. Though newcomers to the U.S. market, these new Xperia handsets from Sony Ericsson have already begun percolating sales in Europe.
“The arc in particular has helped them establish more of a presence in the smartphone market,” saidGartner Vice President Carolina Milanesi.
“It will be interesting to see how their range will develop now that Sony owns the entire company and could potentially integrate more technology and exploit brand more across the portfolio,” Milanesi said in an e-mail Tuesday.
Priced at $500, the Xperia arc S is equipped with a 4.2-inch color screen featuring the mobile version of Sony’s BRAVIA video display technology. Under the hood, the device has a fast 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and standard FM radios; and a DLNA TV interface for displaying the multimedia content stored on the phone on compatible TVs.
Users obtain instant access to the Sony Entertainment Network, which has thousands of movies and ten million music tracks to choose from. The handset’s 8.1-megapixel camera/camcorder is capable of capturing 3D panoramas as well as shooting high-definition video.
Also on the phone are USB and HDMI ports for interfacing with PCs and home entertainment gear, together with a microSD slot for adding extra storage capacity.
The Xperia neo V offers nearly an identical set of features as the Xperia arc S, but is considerably cheaper at $350. The principal differences are the less speedy 1GHz Snapdragon chip and lower resolution 5-megapixel camera/HD camcorder. The neo V also has a slightly smaller 3.7-inch screen, though it nevertheless integrates the same mobile BRAVIA engine as the Xperia arc S.
Upgrading To Ice Cream Sandwich
Gartner reported Tuesday that Sony Ericsson sold nearly 8.5 million mobile devices in the third quarter, for a 1.9 percent global market share — down from 2.5 percent in the same quarter last year. The company ranked 10th in the phone market overall, according to the firm’s analysts.
Demand for smartphones stalled in Western Europe and the U.S. as many users waited for new flagship devices such as Apple’s iPhone, while others “were waiting for promotions on other new high-end models that were launched in the run-up to the fourth-quarter holiday season,” noted Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.
Cozza also noted that some consumers were awaiting new flagship devices “featuring new versions of the key operating systems” such as Apple’s iOS5 as well as Google’s Android 4.0 upgrade known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
“We plan to upgrade the entire 2011 Xperia portfolio to the next version of Android,” said Sony Ericsson blogger Martina Johansson. “We are working on merging our current Xperia experience with the new features in Android 4.0.”