Introduction and Design
As of now, the market isn’t really chock-full of compact Android phones. When you look at the existing lineup, you see the rather large products like the Motorola DROID (MILESTONE) and the Google Nexus One and some that are considerably smaller like the HTC DROID ERIS in the States and the Hero in Europe. Maybe it was this market gap that Sony Ericsson has noticed when coming up with the idea of the Xperia X10 mini we first saw at this year’s MWC. Actually, the manufacturer has literally taken the term “compact” to a whole new level (that is, in terms of Android handsets) with this phone. (Yeah, we said we want compact, but this here’s something else!)
As the name implies, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini is a shrunken down version of the Xperia X10. In contrast to what Nokia did with the N97 mini however, Sony Ericsson has gone to extremes here, and the X10 mini is now one of the tiniest handsets of all times. It has kept the “human curvature” design with soft-touch coating on the back, which makes it pleasant to hold.
You may find the screen surprisingly small – only 2.55 inches with QVGA resolution. The image quality is nice and since the touch technology is capacitive, using the display is a fun experience. In the software part we’ll see how the manufacturer has transformed the user interface so it is easy to use on a screen that small.
All the keys on our prototype unit felt nice, with distinct enough click. All but the lock button, which lacked almost any travel, but we hope this is a flaw of our unit only. On the back you have a 5MP camera with autofocus and an LED flash, as well as the loudspeaker. The connectors you’ll find on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini are standard microUSB and 3.5mm.
So, as a whole the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini is a very sweet smartphone. Although it isn’t introduced as a fashionable device, it does have its own appeal that attracts the user. And it’s incredibly small, to the point where it becomes just slightly inconvenient in bigger male hands. But we do not consider it being a lady phone. Besides, the Xperia X10 mini pro (the QWERTY variant of the X10 mini) will add the needed size, as it will be a bit higher (and just a millimeter thicker). So, yes, we quite like X10 mini’s design, and no, we are not pansies.
Interface and Functionality
You probably remember that Sony Ericsson has created a personalized Android interface, called UX, which we examined in our preview of the Xperia X10. Well, it is also used in the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini, but has been changed in order to be easy to use on the 2.55-inch screen.
The idea of the UX interface is to deliver better user experience by tweaking Android’s appearance and adding integration with social and other online services through the Timescape and Mediascape applications. Mediascape is missing on the X10 mini, but Timescape is still here, although with somewhat limited functionality. What it does is to show you an aggregated view of the latest Facebook and Twitter updates, along with your messages and missed calls (its most frequent automatic refresh period is 15 minutes). You can, of course, filter the content so that you see only tweets, for example.
Because of the small display, each page of the home screen can have only one widget. That’s not such a pain actually, because there are 5 widgets in total. And why would you need more of these anyway? Timescape is available as a widget, so the latest social correspondence is just a tap away. In addition, you have four shortcuts to apps in the four corners of the home screen, which can be customized. From Timescape, you can link online profiles to your contacts, which will then allow you to see status updates in the phonebook – a feature we are beginning to see more and more frequently.
The camera interface is nicely personalized, but it sports almost no options, although the camera is 5MP.
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(Review Page 1 of 2)