If there is one niche segment of smartphone design that appeals uniquely to Australians, it's the ruggedised form factor. Our fantastic climate calls us outdoors, and with us our phones, so it's pretty important to a lot of Aussies that their phone can take a spray of water from time to time, or that it can handle a day on the beach without filling up with sand.
Aside from the, the Xperia Active is the only other phone that fits the rugged bill. Sony Ericsson's design provides an IP67 rating of protection, which means the Active should be able to take a good dunking underwater or survive a dust storm along the Nullarbor.
What will really appeal to the outdoors types is the Active package as a whole. Included with the phone is a sturdy rubber lanyard and an arm-band phone holder for when you are jogging. There are also dedicated fitness apps installed, including a heart-rate monitor. Sony Ericsson also told us it has developed wet finger tracking for the phone's touchscreen, making it possible to use the phone moments after you catapult yourself out of the pool.
It's also a smartphone, of course, running Android Gingerbread with access to push email, the Android Market and all the other goodies you'd expect from a smartphone in this day and age. The Active has a 3-inch LCD display with an HVGA resolution, or about half as many pixels as theand , and a 5-megapixel camera with HD video recording.
Of the new phones announced by Sony Ericsson during CommunicAsia, the Active seems to be the one with the widest appeal. If you are looking for an alternative to the big names in the smartphone world this year, choosing a phone with a ruggedised body makes good sense.