Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini in-depth review -

Look and feel

An incredibly small phone, the X10 Mini comes boxed with an array of interchangeable coloured backs to suit your mood.

Ease of use

Though we appreciate it would have been a tight squeeze we would have preferred a virtual QWERTY keyboard and the touch-screen could have been more reliable.

Features

Despite its size zero credentials, the X10 Mini is packed with Wi-Fi, HSDPA, A-GPS, a five-megapixel camera, access to the Android market and Sony Ericsson’s impressive Timescape.

Performance

The X10 Mini’s feature set delivered the majority of the time, though we encountered difficulties with an often unreliable Wi-Fi connection.

Battery life

With just 210 minutes talktime you won’t want to be too far away from a power supply.

 Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Review -
3

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/8/2011 4:51:47 PM

6

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

6

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

An incredibly dinky device, this is the smallest smartphone on the market.

Cons:

Despite the inclusion of a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, the X10 can at times prove rather sluggish especially when auto-rotating.

Forgive us for stating the blindingly obvious, but whereas the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 was huge, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is tiny. Seriously, it is so small that prison guards are going to have to be extra vigilant in their searching methods. Smaller than a credit card, at least in terms of length, it’s impossible not to exude an “ahhhh” on first sight, the same way you would with a kitten or new-born baby. Yet the X10 Mini is no juvenile, it’s a Google Android device with an array of features that even the biggest smartphones would envy.

Look and feel

The way the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is crafted, our initial impulse was to slide the phone open, partly because, though it’s incredibly dinky, there is a degree of girth (the battery is actually built into the phone). However, it’s all candybar, with the main method of control being through the 2.55-inch TFT capacitive touch-screen. The only exceptions are the three thin metallic hard keys directly under the display; a menu key for whichever feature you’re in, a main menu key and a back key.

Though far smaller than the original Xperia X10, the X10 Mini is very much part of the family, with the four corner UI present. Situated in each corner are shortcuts to (in a clockwise direction) messages, music player, phonebook and the dialing pad. These remain stable throughout all four of the X10 Mini’s home screens, which can be flicked from left to right and vice versa. The first of these home screens displays the time and date, the second a Google search bar with the option of searching via voice (a function that worked excellently), the third a preview of your Timescape feeds (more of which later) and finally a User Support page. There are also four main menus, which can be pulled up by either pressing the main menu key and swiping between them, or via the virtual arrow that hovers at the bottom of the screen. While the display is beautifully crisp (on account of the 16 million colours on offer), we felt the touch-screen could have been a little more responsive, as our key presses weren’t always recognised.

Lack of accelerometers

Another gripe we had with the handset was the lack of accelerometers. Not only did this have a detrimental effect on our browsing experience, as pages display far better when in landscape mode and require less scrolling around the page, but we’ve almost come to expect virtual QWERTY keyboards on touch-screen devices. We appreciate that due to the X10 Mini’s small stature, such a keyboard would need to be equally small, but we still think there’s room. Instead you’ll have to bang out your texts and emails using the multi-tap keypad, though you can switch on the T9 dictionary mode.

Talking of emails, it’s a cinch to set up your account, especially if you have Gmail, though it was an equally breezy affair to sync a Hotmail account. However, we encountered difficulties when trying to read any emails with attachments. First we were unable to open any Word documents, but it also took an age for the message itself to open. Though Sony Ericsson has placed its own skin on the X10 Mini, there are still some traits common with Google Android. One of which is the notification bar at the top of the screen, which among other things will alert the user to any new emails.

Timescape

Although Mediascape is strangely absent from the X10 Mini, the excellent Timescape facility is included. As mentioned earlier, once you’ve logged into Timescape, a shortcut will sit on one of the home screens. This displays the very latest “feed” from either your Facebook or Twitter account and can be set to automatically update every 15 minutes. However, click on this feed and you’ll get to enjoy the full Timescape experience. This consists of all your Facebook, Twitter, messages, and missed calls being fed in a stream like fashion. You can scroll through them and simply press on one to respond or access the main site.

Along with HSDPA, the Sony Ericsson is also fitted with Wi-Fi. Though it was easy enough to log onto our office network, on more than one occasion when we returned to work the following day we would have to log back on, rather than automatically connect. Somewhat bizarrely, other days we wouldn’t need to.

Five-megapixel camera

Photography enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is capable of capturing some decent shots. There’s not a huge amount of camera features, with only four settings; Auto, Macro, Twilight and Sports, but the auto-focus does its job and the LED flash helps with those low light and even night time shots. What’s less pleasing is the time it takes to fire the camera up. We counted a full three seconds from pressing the camera button to the image finder finding focus. On the plus side, photos can be emailed, posted to Facebook page or sent as MMS in just two steps. Video can also be uploaded directly to YouTube.

It’s unlikely you would use the X10 Mini as a sat nav when driving due to the small screen. However, it may prove useful when you’re a pedestrian as not only did the A-GPS provide a quick and stable fix, but it also comes with the agreeable Wisepilot too, providing voice guidance and a keyword search for a those points of interest. Of course, if that doesn’t tickle your fancy you do have access to the Android Market, so there’s a host of other navigational software you can purchase.

Conclusion

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini will be largely remembered (and sold) on its design (the manufacturer has also kindly included an array of coloured back covers too). Yet Sony Ericsson has kitted this minion with a decent list of features. Though we encountered a few too many teething issues that left us feeling a tad frustrated, the X10 Mini is no bad shout for those looking for a feature packed Android smartphone that will fit comfortably in your pocket.

 

Danny Brogan