Sony Ericsson has shown off its new Xperia Ray smartphone at a showcase event in London, 2 months ahead of the UK release in September and we were there to grab a hands on.

The new phone, which feels and looks a lot thinner in the flesh than the press shots we’ve seen prior, will come with Android 2.3.4 (the model we played with still had 2.3.3) and boast the same Bravia engine found on the Xperia Arc launched earlier in the year.

That new screen technology is clearly visible with a vibrant 3.3-inch display that is not only crisp, but has an incredible viewing angle (as our pictures show). The "reality display" 854x480 pixel resolution definitely helps add to the phone's media and browsing experience. 

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That crisp display also helps get around the fact that the screen is smaller than other Sony Ericsson handsets on the market and should mean that you won’t have to squint too much when it comes to getting it out of your pocket.

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An 8.1-megapixel camera complete with Exmor R technology keeps up the high quality imaging standard set by the recently released Xperia Arc. 720p HD video recording is also possible.

The hardware itself is just 9.4mm thick and only 100g in weight. Perhaps not quite Galaxy S II slim but definitely tiny enough to feel compact in the hand. Sadly no dual-core action to be had with the Xperia Ray, still thanks to Sony Ericsson's redesigned approach to Android, it is snappy enough with a 1GHz processor under the hood.

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Aside from the rubberised matte finish on the back of the case, there isn’t much more to share with you at this time - our play was brief - but you can be sure we’ll bring you a full review when we get to play with the new phone over a longer period, no doubt nearer launch day.