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Summary:

Sony Ericsson still wants to the be the top seller of Android phones globally, but will these two new Gingerbread handsets help? The Xperia Active and Ray do bring a few differentiating features, such as the Mobile Bravia Engine and a waterproof design for active consumers.

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Sony Ericsson today announced two new Google Android 2.3 smartphones, both of which use the company’s Mobile Bravia engine to enhance the displays. The Xperia Ray and Xperia Active are expected in the third quarter of this year on GSM networks around the world and support AT&T’s mobile broadband frequencies here in the U.S. Sony Ericsson last year said it hopes to become the top seller of Android smartphones in the world, and the strategy for that appears tied to differentiating its handsets.

A key feature not offered by other Android handsets is the Mobile Bravia engine, which is leveraged from Sony’s Bravia television line. The Reality Displays of both phones are a little on the small side (3-inches on the Active and 3.3-inches on the Ray) but are enhanced to bring a high-end large screen video experience with improved contrast, noise reduction and color management; similar to that of a Bravia television. A simulation video shows the visual improvements, which are also found on the Xperia Arc, a handset that debuted at January’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Another difference appears with the Active; geared for those who exercise or include their smartphone in recreational activities, the phone comes pre-loaded with several sports-tracking apps. The handset is dust-proof and water-resistant: It can be submerged in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. And although the display is a lower resolution of 480×320 as compared to the 854×480 on the Ray, the touchscreen still works when wet. As I’ve found in my daily running activities, capacitive touch screens generally don’t work well, if at all, once a little sweat is introduced to the phone.

Aside from these key standout features, both handsets use hardware components that are fairly standard for a current Android phone: 1 GHz processor, high-definition video recording, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Based the specs, the Ray is the higher-end of the two, offering double the storage memory, higher-resolution display, and an 8.1-megapixel camera over the Active’s 5-megapixel sensor.

 

Specifications alone won’t sell handsets though, and if Sony Ericsson wants to make good on its goal of “top dog” for Android, it needs to keep working to differentiate its handsets from the wide array of Android smartphones and keep the handsets up to date with current Android software. From the looks of it, the Mobile Bravia Engine is a good start, as is the use of Android 2.3 on both new Xperia smartphones. Surprisingly, however, neither the Active nor the Ray will include NFC, or near-field communications chips: a radio for wireless payments that the company is expected to start using in future phones.

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  1. Maybe they couldn’t fit NFC chips into these smaller phones:-)

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