Product: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
System Specifications: Android 1.6, 4-inch touch screen, 1Ghz Snapdragon processor, 8.1 megapixel camera, 1GB internal memory, 8GB microSD card, 3.5mm jack, Bluetooth, GPRS, GPS, GSM, HSDPA, Li-ion battery, Wi-Fi
Price: £480 SIM Free
SONY ERICSSON'S FIRST ever Google Android based mobile arrives with the largest screen and the highest megapixel count in a camera on a handset running that phone operating system, along with running the fastest mobile processor around today.
It's been reported the X10 is made by Foxconn, the very same manufacturer as the Apple Iphone. Proving it is possible for a company to diversify and it's even been noted that Acer is soon to be using the same company as well.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 size and dimensions aren't too far off that of the Iphone, at 119mm x 63mm x 13mm. The 3GS measures in at 115.5mm x 62.1mm x 12.3mm. The X10 has the Qualcomm 1Ghz Snapdragon processor running the phone, which was first seen in the Toshiba TG01 mid last year and has recently come to the HTC Legend and Desire. It is fast, there's no doubt about it with little lag seen on running applications but we can't help feeling it's somewhat held back by the version of Android deployed - but more on that later.
The screen is the largest seen in a retailing Android mobile phone, with a 4-inch capacitive touchscreen. The largest display accolade on a phone goes to the HTC HD2 Windows Mobile device at 4.3-inches, although that company has now opted for AMOLED screens on their latest Android models where the X10 packs in more pixels at 480x854, compared to 480x800 on those other phones. The X10 screen is quite responsive to the touch and performs fairly well on most occasions with a good deal of accuracy in interpreting requests. But Sony Ericsson hasn't capitalised on the larger screen space as much as it could have and it isn't multitouch enabled either.
A bothersome aspect to the OS deployed, or more appropriately the GUI used by Sony Ericsson, was in text entry. With other handsets running the same operating system the text entry window used for text messaging is always quite large, only with the X10 there is just one line of visible text that can be seen in landscape mode. A screen as large as the Xperia X10's lends itself to a good text entry experience but a lot of the screen was taken up by unnecessary borders around the outside of the text window, which hampered what could have been a larger text entry screen.
Announced back in November, the X10 has taken the best part of half a year to materialise which could very well be the reason for the version of Android deployed. The mobile is running with the older version of 1.6 and not the very latest 2.1, which is an OS that other newer mobile phones such as the new HTC devices are now running. This iteration of the operating system is now being deployed in the more budget handsets, rather than the higher end models which is a category this mobile very much falls in to and is clearly highlighted by the £480 SIM free price tag.
Although this version is now dated and doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the new tighter code in the Android 'Eclair' 2.1 update, it still appears to perform well thanks to the added user interface by Sony Ericsson. User experience, or UX, is the name the mobile phone company has given to its overlay to Android with some bundled in get-arounds that are missing from Google 'Donut' 1.6. Sony Ericsson has added the Moxier suite of software which offers up Microsoft Exchange abilities for the handset, and it has also added a whole raft of social networking features to the mobile in order to compete with HTC's Sense overlay.
Timescape is Sony Ericsson's key application on the X10 that incorporates Facebook, Twitter, text messages, emails, photos taken and music played all into one feed. The details for the various accounts are all entered when the phone initially starts up for the very first time, only there's a slight inconsistency when it comes down to email and there's a raft of missing features too. Seeing as the phone is Android based Gmail is part and parcel of the deal, with an account asked for when setting up the mobile, only this isn't passed along to Timescape where all the rest of the details are. There is also the missing feature of MMS in the software, and you can't really see long Facebook status updates which lets down its entire usefulness.
It's fairly comprehensive as a read-only application with all the various feeds presented in one column displayed as sheets of paper to be scrolled through, although they can also be shown individually in their own categories too. Updating of the feeds can only be set to a minimum of 15 minutes, where a more frequent or even simple way of manually updating would be preferable. This is especially if running from the likes of WiFi, or even if the phone is on an unlimited data package as 15 minutes is too restrictive where the whole social networking scene could have changed several times within that space.
There are some unusual aspects to the X10 Android OS, which we haven't seen before in any other deployments of that platform and one that wasn't a good sign in favour of the first Sony Ericsson phone. The first is that the contacts of Gmail aren't imported into the phone when entering the Google mail account details, which is a feature the INQUIRER has seen on every other Google OS phone to date. We're unsure why this is the case here and it escapes us why this has either been left out of the phone, or why this OS has been crippled in some way to not use the Gmail contacts.
One of the most odd hardware traits to the X10 surrounds the offline charging, or distinct lack of it to be more precise. When a mobile phone is at its lowest point in terms of battery life, powering off the phone and then recharging completes the full-recharge much faster than if it is still up and running. This is also useful when only a few minutes are to spare for adding some much needed charge to the battery, as it will certainly add more power to the phone than if powered on and recharging - only this little trick isn't possible with the Xperia X10. Each time the powered-off phone connects to a charger the mobile automatically powers itself on, each and every time the handset is powered off again as well. We haven't seen this before in a mobile and we're unsure whether to call this a ‘feature' or a ‘fault' on the Xperia X10, either way it's a hindrance when you need a little more battery power and you don't have a great deal of time.
In our testing of the Xperia X10 the 1500 mAh battery lived up to Sony Ericsson's claims, which is fairly rare for today's mobile phone manufacturers. In using the phone as intended, with all aspects of the social networking Timescape features enabled and also updating every 15 minutes - the phone lasted for 6 hours and 20 minutes. SE quoted between 10 and 8 hours of call time, which doesn't factor in the data streaming down where our testing almost matched that figure with the data taken into account.
As a first attempt at a new direction for a mobile phone company it is a good effort. There are some positive signs, with a large screen, fast processor and a fairly comprehensive social networking application built into the OS. The positive signs are let down by some issues, such as an old version of Android and oddities to Gmail's abilities with some hardware foibles. We suspect some of these problems could be resolved in hardware fixes and updates, due later this year. µ
Large screen, fast processor
No multi touch, no offline charging possible
Old version of Android used, Gmail inconsistencies and problems
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