As if phones weren’t enough of a fashion accessory these days, Sony Ericsson’s released a smartphone in partnership with surf brand Billabong. The associated label’s logo is splashed across two of the bundled battery covers. The Xperia Active is an Android phone pitched, presumably, at the active youngster, with its waterproof capabilities (including a touchscreen that works even with wet fingers) and built-in fitness apps.
The Xperia Active comes bundled with three different battery covers: one plain black and, as aforementioned, two Billabong-themed. The default desktop image is also in keeping with the surf-brand theme.
But the main selling point of the Xperia Active is that it’s built to withstand liquid submersion and is, thus, ideal for those who spend a lot of time near water. Much like the Motorola Defy (a phone that, as loyal readers may recall, I put through my washing machine a few issues back), the Xperia Active boasts IP67 certification, meaning that it can function while submerged in 1m of water for 30 minutes. As such, it should survive most likely incidents of submersion that the active (or simply clumsy) user might throw at it. Beneath the well sealed back batter cover (complete with plugs to seal the power and headphone inputs) is a second, rubberised-seal layer that protects the battery, SIM and microSD cards from invading liquids.
The handset itself runs Android 2.3.4 (aka Gingerbread) out of the box, with a rudimentary version of the custom OS skin implemented on other Xperia devices. The four corners of the display on the home screen act as quick-access keys for certain fuctions. For instance, the top two corners expand when pressed to reveal four apps each, while the bottom two corners open your contact directory and numerical keypad (for making phone calls) respectively. The Active’s 1GHz Snapdragon processor is rather snappy, particularly for a phone at this price point, and while it comes bundled with a 2GB microSD card, you can install a card of your own to increase its capacity by up to 32GB. Essentially, it feels like a decent amount of smartphone crammed into a lower-end device. If you can get past the look of the phone and the limitations that come with its modest 3-inch display, it’s a fairly capable unit.
PROS: Lightweight. Mostly waterproof. Decent processor. 5MP camera with LED flash.
CONS: Slightly stout, bulky proportions. Cheap look and feel.
VERDICT: The Xperia Active is a great Android phone for entry-level smartphone users, particularly kids. Power users will likely not want to ditch their iPhones, Samsung Galaxies or Xperia Arcs for one, however. For the price, though, the Xperia Active is a fairly features-rich device and more capable than its appearance might suggest.