That four-inch display is a pleasure to view.
It can be a bit slow at times, which is surprising considering the 1GHz processor.
Sony Ericsson’s first Android handset has lots to recommend it.
Android phones are really making their mark on the mobile market – may are proving to be worthy contenders to Apple’s iPhone – and Google’s operating system has been adopted by HTC, Samsung, LG and Motorola. Now Sony Ericsson has jumped on board with the Sony EricssonXperia X10.
The Xperia X10 is long and lean, despite its four-inch screen. It’s slighty bigger than the iPhone 3GS but weighs the same, 135g. This light weight is partly down to the fact that it’s mainly plastic. It looks good, with a glossy front and matte back, but the plastic does become apparent when you hold the phone: it feels pretty flimsy and we wouldn’t want to drop it on to a hard surface. It’s also gets quite grubby quite quickly.
It’s minimalist in design, with just three keys on the front, below the screen: Menu, which you can press from whatever mode you’re in for a list of possible action; Home, which will take you back to your home screen from anywhere; and Back.
The volume/zoom keys sit on the right-hand side of the phone, as well as the dedicated camera key. On top are the power button, a microUSB port and a 3.5mm audio jack – always a bonus for us, especially when positioned at the top of the phone for easy headset connection.
The capacitive touch-screen works well, although we sometimes found it getting away from us – but better to be over-sensitive than not sensitive enough, and like all touch-screens, you will get to know the quirks of yours soon enough.
Google Android is very present on the Xperia, despite Sony Ericsson’s own interface. The familiar notifications bar at the top of the screen will keep you posted on messages, emails and updates; and the pull-up menu at the foot is also an Android staple.
There are three customisable home screens, and the main home screen has shortcuts to Timescape and Mediascape, which we will talk about in a minute, messaging and calls. If you scroll to the left you see thumbnails of recent and most visited internet sites. The last home screen has a toolbar for data connections such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Timescape lists all your recent messages, Facebook and Twitter feeds in either a single list you can skim through or for a specific feed for just emails, for example. You can also choose one contact using the infinite key to view every conversation you have had with them over Twitter, email or text.
Mediascape provides access to your music, video and photos in one application. As well as this, pressing the infinite button will show you relevant videos on YouTube, further information on the artist or band you are listening via Google, and the opportunity to buy recommended music from Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow. Selecting a person’s name on a photo will bring up all the tagged photos of that person.
There’s no dedicated search key here like you will find on other Android phones. But there is a Google search bar at the top of the third home screen, and the little microphone icon next to it allows you to speak your search words into the phone. In a quiet place and if you speak clearly, it works really well, and is the sort of little extra that always goes down well with us.
The virtual keyboard on the Xperia X10 is one of the best we’ve seen on a Sony Ericsson. Typing in portrait mode requires care because the space bar is so small, but in landscape mode the keys are larger and easier to type on. A neat little touch is that the phone automatically adds word you have typed to its dictionary.
The screen takes a while to auto-rotate which is both frustrating and unexpected, as the X10 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor which should speed things up considerably but fails to help here. This may be because the X10 runs Android 1.6 while other smartphones are already on version 2.1, so it misses out on features like multi-touch. Sony Ericsson says there will be an update available later this year.
The TFT screen looks lovely when viewing web pages or video (although we should point out that the X10 doesn’t support DivX files). The four-inch screen is the largest yet on any Android handset. You can view web pages in full, and while we didn’t have time to test the theory, we’re sure that watching entire movies would be comfortable too.
Email also works superbly on the Xperia X10. You can receive push alerts for most webmail accounts with a simple two-step set-up, and Moxia Client allows you to sync your emails, contacts, calendar and tasks with Microsoft Exchange. This is a feature found on Android 2.0 devices, so hats off to Sony Ericsson for including it on the Xperia X10.
Cameras have not been a strong point of Android phones up until now, but Sony Ericsson is very good at camera phones, and this is certainly the best we’ve seen yet on an Android device. The eight-megapixel snapper has all manner of settings to achieve the best result and pictures are clean and vivid.
There is also Sony Ericsson’s face recognition technology, which will recognise tagged people in future photos and tag them automatically. It does work, but only if the subject is looking at the camera straight on – and it failed to recognise our subject when she took her glasses off.
The camera took a while to launch, and the touch-screen’s usual responsiveness dropped right off in camera mode. It would also have been nice to see a Xenon flash like other Sony Ericsson camera phones, but this would have made the device much larger, so we can forgive that.
The size of the screen on the X10 means it could be a viable alternative to a standalone sat nav unit. Google Maps is still an impressive application, with traffic info, points of interest and all sorts of map views. We got an almost instant fix on our position, and it held that fix well.
As for software, you get a trial version of Wisepilot, but there are plenty more available at the Android Market.
Sony Ericsson’s first Android phone can be counted as a success. The size may put people off – there’s a mini version on the way – but the four-inch screen is lovely and makes internet and video content a joy to watch.
Timescape and Mediascape work well for integrating your social networks and media respectively, and the camera is impressive compared to other Android cameras. But there’s not quite enough to put it on a level with the HTC Legend or Desire.
|Type of phone:Smartphone|
|Size:119 x 63 x 13 mm|
|Special Camera features:LED flash, auto focus, macro mode|
|Music formats played:WAV, WMA, eAAC+, MP3|
|3.5mm jack port:Yes|
|Call records:Practically unlimited|
|Phonebook:Practically unlimited entries and fields|
|Display description:TFT Capacitive|
|Standard color:Black or white|
|Connectivity:MicroUSB, A2DP, Bluetooth|
|Announced date:November 2009|
|What's in the Box:Handsfree kit, micro USB cable|
|RAM:384 MB RAM|
|International launch date:March 2010|
|Battery life when playing multimedia:N/A|
|FM Radio Description:No|
|Internal memory:1GB (8GB microSD card included)|
|Memory Card Slot:microSD|
|Messaging:MMS, SMS, IM, Email|
|E-mail client:Push email|
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