Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro in-depth review -

Look and feel

The Xperia X10 Mini Pro may be the most compact smartphone on the market but appearances can be deceptive, as the Mini Pro can do just as much as most of its larger competitors. The 2.55-inch touch-screen fits comfortably in even the teeniest of palms and is likely draw admiring glances from your friends.

Ease of use

The compact QWERTY keyboard is perfect for messaging but the dialer is a real let down, with no search option on the contact book screen meaning you'll have to scroll through your contacts to make that all-important call.

Features

As we have come to expect from Sony Ericsson, the music player is great on the Mini Pro, but the five-megapixel camera does not scale the heights of the manufacturer's Cybershot line.

Performance

While the Mini Pro's touch-screen is capacitive and quite responsive, it’s not quick enough to keep up with fast typing – but luckily, the compact QWERTY keyboard and slick interface mean you won’t notice.

Battery life

The Xperia X10 Mini Pro has an above average battery life.

 Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/27/2011 3:54:34 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Compact keyboard; unique, intuitive user interface; great music player; access to Android Market

Cons:

Old version of Android that is unlikely to be upgradeable anytime soon, difficult to actually make phone calls

If you’re not sure, whack a keyboard on. That seems to have been Sony Ericsson’s philosophy for its last few phones and we have to say, it works. The Xperia X10 Mini Pro is the exact same phone as the X10 Mini, except its QWERTY keyboard makes up for a less than stellar touch-screen – and turns it into an eminently usable, pocket friendly smartphone.

An X10 in the hand…

The Mini Pro is a wee version of Sony Ericsson’s flagship Android phone, the Xperia X10. So it essentially does everything the X10 does, but manages to be cuter and smaller, with a 2.55-inch touch-screen that fits comfortably in even the teeniest of palms. The compact QWERTY keyboard doubles up numbers and the most common symbols to squeeze everything in, and even manages to give the comma and full stop their own buttons. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack, volume rocker at the side, and some great bundled in-ear headphones.

While the touch-screen is capacitive and quite responsive, it’s not quick enough to keep up with fast typing – but luckily, the keyboard means you won’t notice.

You’ll normally use the phone in portrait orientation, but flicking out the keyboard switches the screen into landscape. Sony Ericsson has overlaid its own interface on the Android OS, giving it a unique look we’re very much fans of. The home screen has four shortcuts in each corner for message, music, contacts and all-programs. You can add widgets to several home screens that you can swipe sideways to view, and in a neat, Palm Pre-esque touch, flick upwards to access the all-programs menu. You can’t add app shortcuts to the home screens, but what you download is automatically added to the programs menu, which you can reorganise. It’s a very intuitive system that feels great to navigate, while the classic Android notifications toolbar lets you swipe down to view new events or songs that are currently playing.

Contact us

But don’t call, because the dialer is pretty shameful. You can’t just type the first few letters of a friend’s name, and you can’t even search the contact book from the screen. It really is just a keypad with zero functionality, so you’ll have to know a number off by heart. Of course, once you’ve used the phone for a while, you’ll be able to make use of the call log, which you can use to call back recent contacts, but generally, to call anyone whose name you don’t know, you’ll have to go via the contacts books instead.

The keyboard is pretty good though, and we love the shortcut to messages. In fact, this phone is just perfect for messaging, as it feels best in landscape orientation with the keyboard out. Though the keys are a bit too hard to type as quickly as, say, on a BlackBerry, they are intelligently positioned with an alt key to access lesser-used symbols, as well as a symbols menu that includes cute emoticons.

Like the Xperia X10, the Pro is preloaded with Sony Ericsson’s Timescape app, which syncs contacts with Twitter and Facebook to show a unified feed of their updates, messages and calls. You can place a Timescape widget on the home screen too, where you’ll be able to flick through a series of contact cards in chronological order of latest update. Tapping on an update takes you to the mobile versions of the Facebook and Twitter sites.

Extras on the side

As you’d expect from the company that pioneered the Walkman phones, the music player is great on this handset, as are the bundled in-ear headphones. Together, they provided clear, rich sound quality for everything from pop to low frequency bass.

Sony Ericsson also has a reputation for camera phones with its Cybershot line, but that hasn’t really translated to the X10 Mini Pro. Its five-megapixel camera has auto-focus and an LED flash, but pictures in daylight look slightly over sharpened and lacked richness when we viewed them on a monitor. Surprisingly, lowlight pictures were of a pretty high standard – though skin tones came out slightly yellow, the flash didn’t overexpose even in an almost dark room, and clarity was decent. There’s a dedicated shutter button, which is always good for those spontaneous shots, and when you’re done, you can send your shots via email, or share them with Picasa or other social networks.

Find a way

Google Maps is preloaded and is its usual dependable self. If you’re of the GPS stalker variety, you’ll like the Latitude add-on which shows you where your friends are on the map – at least if they’ve agreed to let you know. Because the phone runs on Android 1.6 (which is a bit disappointing considering three subsequent upgrades have already been released), it doesn’t support voice navigation – but Sony Ericsson has managed to get round that with its Wisepilot app. It’s only a trial version though, so if you decide you like getting voice directions, you’ll have to pay after 30 days. Another work around is the RoadSync app, which syncs Microsoft Exchange email, a feature not native to Android 1.6.

Conclusion

Though we wish Sony Ericsson would release phones faster so they’re not outdated as soon as they launch, the company has done a good job of making up for the deficiencies of Android 1.6. The Xperia X10 Mini Pro is the most compact smartphone on the market, but it can do just as much as most competitors. Its music quality is an unsung highlight, and the QWERTY keyboard goes the extra mile to make this the perfect messaging handset. Add that to an extremely slick user interface, and we think this is the sleeper hit Sony Ericsson has been waiting for. 

Natasha Stokes