Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 in-depth review -

Look and feel

Although the X10 looks high end, we felt the plastic bodywork cheapened it a little.

Ease of use

Despite all its features the X10 is relatively easy to get to grips with, with self explanatory menus and home screen key to take you back to the start should you find yourself lost.

Features


HSDPA, Wi-Fi, A-GPS for personal navigation, access to the Google Android market, and an eight-megapixel camera makes the X10 every inch the smartphone, while Timescape and Mediascape are innovative and welcome additions. 


Performance

With the humungous four-inch display, both viewing video and surfing the web is a hugely enjoyable affair. The camera is the best seen on an Android device so far, but the overall experience was belittled by a sluggish performance.


Battery life

An excellent battery life of 480- minutes talktime and 425 hours standby.

 Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/8/2011 4:52:21 PM

6

out of 10

Performance

6

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:

The large four-inch touch-display makes for improved video viewing and web surfing.

Cons:

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

The Android has most definitely landed. The open source operating system has grabbed the mobile industry by the scruff of the neck and shouted "it's not all about the iPhone you know." While HTC led the assault, they were quickly joined by Samsung, LG and even Motorola. Well team Android now have a new comrade, Sony Ericsson who has joined the party with the X10.

Look and feel

The Sony Ericsson X10 is a lanky so and so. Donning the front of the device is a huge four-inch screen, yet it manages to maintain a svelte waistline. At 135 grams it weighs the same as an Apple iPhone 3GS, yet is slightly bigger. One of the reasons the X10 manages to keep its weight down, is that it is predominantly made from plastic. A plastic finish can sometimes leave a phone looking tacky and cheap. Thankfully the X10, with its glossy fascia and matte back cover it certainly looks the part. Unfortunately when you get the phone in the hand its plastic bodywork was only too apparent and we wouldn't fancy its chances in a fight with a concrete floor for example. While we appreciate that a degree of grubbiness is inevitable with any touch-screen device, we also found the X10 to be especially vulnerable to smudges and smears.

 

In terms of hard keys, Sony Ericsson has taken a minimalist approach. Below the screen are three keys, from left to right; a menu key - press this in whichever mode you're in for a list of possible actions; the home key - press this at any time to return to your main home screen; and the back key. On the right hand side of the device are the volume keys that double up as the zoom when using the camera, which incidentally has a dedicated access key found on the same right hand side. At the top of the device is the power key that requires a quick press to lock the phone, a microsUSB port - preferable as this is currently the closest thing we have to a universal charger - and a 3.5mm headset jack. We've championed the inclusion of such a port for a long while now and it's pleasing to see that more and more handsets are complying. However, we've got additional love for Sony Ericsson for again including the jack at the top of the phone making it easier to plug and unplug your headphones while the phone is in your pocket. Trying to do this when the port is on the side of the phone can be a tricky affair and in our experience can lead to damaging your headphones due to the unnatural way they have to bend.

 

The X10's display is capacitive, which means you can swipe the screen with feather like ease and pressing on the virtual icons needs only a degree of pressure. It works well, maybe a little too well as while scrolling down web pages, we on more than one occasion accidentally accessed a hyperlink when we just wanted to get to the bottom of the page. That said, we'd rather our touch-screens were over-sensitive rather than requiring numerous attempts for a command to be recognised.

Google Android

While Sony Ericsson has most certainly put its own stamp on the X10, the presence of Google Android is abundantly clear. Anyone familiar with this OS will recognise the notification bar at the top of the screen - emails, messages, updates will all appear here - while the pull up menu from the bottom of each home screen is also an Android mainstay. The handset has three home screens all of which can be customised by dragging and dropping icons from the main menu. The main home page has shortcuts to Timescape and Mediascape (se below), messaging and phone calls. Scroll to the left and listed are a host of thumbnails to your most visited and recently visited internet sites. The final home screen has a tool bar for all your data connections. For example, to turn your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on and off, simply press the relevant icon. It's a nice touch and saves you having to trawl through your different menus.

 

Timescape cleverly lists alls your recent correspondence and Facebook and Twitter feeds into one place. You'll be able to skim through them in one long list, or alternatively select one specific feed to just see your recent email history for example, or solely your friends Facebook updates. Alternatively choose a specific contact via the infinite key to view all your conversations you've had with them no matter whether it was via Twitter, email or text. Mediascape meanwhile is an innovative management program that provides access to all your music, photos and videos in one application. However, as well as accessing media stored on your phone, when you press the infinite button you will be shown relevant music videos on YouTube or further information from on a particular artist you might be listening to via Google or purchase recommended music via Sony Ericsson's PlayNow service. You can also view all the photos you have tagged of one individual by simply selecting that person's name.

 

The eagle-eyed among you many have recognised that unlike most Android phones, there's no dedicated search key (usually indicated by a magnifying glass). However, at the top of this third home screen there is a Google search bar. Yet that's not all. Next to this is a little microphone icon. Press on this and you'll be able to speak your search words. We really liked this feature and as long as we spoke slowly and clearly it worked a treat. If you find yourself in a noisy environment however, it will probably be best (and quicker) to revert to the old fashioned method of typing.

Touch-screen

Talking of which, we're pleased to report that the X10's virtual keyboard is one of the best we've encountered with all of Sony Ericsson's touch-screen phones. Typing on the QWERTY keyboard while in portrait mode requires a little more care, with the space bar being particularly minute. In horizontal mode however, the keys are bigger and more spaced out ensuring a more pleasant typing experience. Sadly, despite the Qualcomm Snapdragon 1 GHz processor, the time it takes for the screen to auto-rotate is frustratingly sluggish. We did like the fact that the phone automatically remembers words you have previously typed, adding them to its dictionary.

 

While this beefed up processor helps the overall running of the X10, it will still undoubtedly be criticised for not including the latest Android software. Running on 1.6, the X10 misses out on some nifty features that the Android 2.0 brings to the table, including multi-touch. However, Sony Ericsson informs us that an update will be available later in the year.

 

Although the display is only TFT, the visual quality remains impressive, particularly when surfing the web or viewing video content (though it's worth noting that the X10 doesn't support DivX). Of course this is largely down to the humungous four-inch screen. It's the largest screen to don any Android device. Web pages are displayed in full and we can feasibly see ourselves watching an entire film on a screen of this size without developing eye strain. The X10 also excels at email. Most webmail accounts such as Hotmail and Gmail can be set up so that you receive your mail immediately (i.e. push) in just two steps. It also comes pre-embedded with Moxia Client, an application that enables you to sync calendars, contacts, email and tasks with Microsoft Exchange, a feature usually only found in Android 2.0 devices.

Eight-megapixel camera

While mostly enjoying the plaudits, Android phones have continually been criticised for their relatively poor cameras. Sony Ericsson however, has a proud reputation for producing excellent camera phones over the years, so while pleasing, it's no big surprise that the X10 has the most equipped Android snapper to date. Yes it has an eight-megapixel camera, but as we've said on countless occasions megapixels is not the only component to achieving good photographs.

 

There're plenty of settings to choose from to suit the environment you're in and the results were both sharp and colourful. The X10 also builds on its face recognition technology. By tagging your photos, the face recognition will automatically name that person for all future photographs they appear in. The good news is that it works. The bad news is that it depends on a number of factors. One being that the subjects face must always be looking directly at the camera, thus proving only useful for posed photos. The phone also failed to recognise our subject when she removed her glasses. In addition we felt that the fire up time from pressing the camera key to actually being able to take the photo could have been a lot faster, while the touch-screen strangely seemed far less responsive when using the camera than in any other mode, where it worked swimmingly. The lack of Xenon flash as seen on previous Sony Ericsson phones is also disappointing though the inclusion of one would have dramatically increased the bulk of the phone, so it is forgivable.

A-GPS

With its large screen, the X10 could be a genuine alternative to your sat nav. Google Maps is of course on board and continues to impress, with a host of Points of Interest, Traffic information and various map views all available while the A-GPS saw a lightning quick satellite fix. The phone does come with a trial version of Wisepilot, which includes voice directions, but there are plenty of other navigational apps available to buy from the Android Market.

Conclusion

Sony Ericsson may be late to the Android party, but the X10 is a welcome guest. While the sheer size of the device is bound to divide opinion (there is an X10 Mini on the way) we are fans of the large display, making web surfing and videos a joy. Both Timescape and Mediascape impress as Sony Ericsson's own take on social networking and media integration and the X10's camera kicks sand into the eyes of all previous Android cameras. However, it still fails to hit the dizzy heights that the likes of the HTC Legend and Desire has reached.

 

Danny Brogan