Sony Xperia Active : For outdoor sports

9/8/2012 9:30:54 AM

The Active is designed for outdoor sports enthusiasts looking for an extra touch of smartphone protection

The Sony Xperia Active is a small compact handset that can be easily grasped in one hand.

Build quality is also rugged and we liked the rubberized coating which made it easier to grip with wet hands. All the ports are also protected from dust and water with rubber seals which seemed more substantial than on the other products. Likewise its back cover reveals a further seal to protect the battery and memory card slot.

Description: Sony Xperia
Sony Xperia

From our tests the phone did survive being dropped but we felt the phones lanyard connector was a weakness due to the way it protrudes from the casing and thus it’s less effective than the protection offered by the JCB Toughphone.

However, it’s still a tough little phone and despite the lack of an IP67 rating the phone also survived being submerged in a bowl of water for several minutes. The back cover was wet but the extra seal protecting the battery held up. We also liked that the phone warns you about replacing the port covers after a USB cable has been attached - a really nice touch.

Firing up the OS produced several surprises. For one, the screen is quite vibrant considering its lowly resolution, thanks mainly to its property BRAVIA engine. We also liked the Ul’s Facebook integration and Flash light app/music player - perfect for runners.

Description: Sony Xperia s
Sony Xperia S

Sony has also provided some useful outdoor sport apps which can be used for training. One of these is MapMyFITNESS+ and this worked effectively with the on board GPS to track our position during a run.

Additionally, the phone’s screen copes well outdoors. Unfortunately the only snag with its lower resolution was that some games don’t work. However, most people won’t be buying the handset for this reason so it’s not as disastrous as it sounds. Mind you, those who like texting may find typing on the small keyboard a little more challenging.

Benchmark tests showed the Active was the highest performer in the group and web browsing and scrolling was effortless. Even its camera took some nice shots and the 720p video recording was a welcome bonus. Its 1200mAh battery was a little stingy, and during an hour run (utilizing the MapMyFITNESS+ application and music player running at the same time) the battery drained by a whopping 25 per cent, which may concern some.



Easily the smallest device in the group and its compact body certainly suits the target audience. Its rubberized coating does make it comfortable to hold. However, it still may be too small for someone with larger hands.

Description: It still may be too small for someone with larger hands.

It still may be too small for someone with larger hands.

General performance

Unfortunately the lanyard connection is also a concern as direct hits to this area may comprise integrity. However, its rugged design helped it survive multiple drops and the rubberized seals to all ports, were excellent for water resistance.


Sony’s BRAVIA engine certainly makes this the best low-resolution device in the group, and it’s coupled with an effective UI and supplied sports apps. Performance was also high, and for all general purposes, apart from some games, it excelled.

Battery life

Battery life was on-par with the Motorola from a video playback point of view. If you use the device as its intended, i.e. the GPS, music player and sports app, the phone will give you roughly five hours of use.


The Sony Xperia Active is an effective, small, compact and rugged device with respectable performance.




More information:


Technical specs

Operating system

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)


1 GHz Scorpion


512MB RAM, 1GB internal storage (up to 320MB free), micro SD expansion


92 x 55 x 16.5 mm




3” with wet finger tracking and scratch-resistant coating


Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth V2.1, GPS, HSDPA, HSUPA


5-MP rear, no front camera, 720p video recording, 3D Sweep Panorama


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