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Sony Ericsson X10 mini - Camera, Screen and Interface

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Glorious probably isn't the word you'd use to describe the shots that this phone produces however: acceptable, adequate, decent are all more appropriate. Performance of the camera app is also okay, so you won't have any frustrating waits as the app loads, focuses, and then has a think before actually taking the photo.

Looking a bit more closely at this phone's screen, it measures just 2.55in from corner to corner, which to be precise is just 40mm wide by 53mm tall. Its 240 x 320 resolution is also very low – the same as the much larger "small Android phone" the HTC Wildfire. On a screen this size that resolution actually looks quite sharp, though obviously once you're browsing the web or trying to play games the limited screen real estate is immediately apparent. Unlike large smartphones, many of which can display web pages quite comfortably, on the X10 mini you generally have to zoom in until only a third of the page's width is displayed before text is readable.

However, far from being a maddening experience, thanks to the inbuilt web browser on Android being so good and the phone being reasonably snappy, you can quite happily scroll around a page in double-quick time and get all the info you need. Also, as large blocks of text are made to fit the width of the screen, you're saved from too much right-to-left scrolling. However, Flash isn't supported and the screen doesn't support multi-touch (despite using capacitive touch sensing) so you can't pinch-to-zoom.

As for the general quality of the screen, it has decent viewing angles and colour reproduction, but its maximum brightness is fairly low so you might struggle in bright sunlight.

The X10 mini uses the 1.6 version of the Android operating system, which is someway behind the latest 2.2 version and combined with the low resolution screen will mean many apps on the Android MarketPlace aren't compatible (though most of the basics are). As such you don't get exchange email support, live wallpapers, USB tethering, as well as a whole host of speed and UI tweaks. However, given this phone's size and some heavy customisation by SE, many of these improvements would have been of limited benefit.

Instead of multiple desktops that you can fill with widgets and shortcuts, the X10 mini only allows you to add a single widget to each desktop and there are just four fixed shortcuts in each corner of the screen. By default these link to messages, dialer, contacts, and music player but, as with the widgets, you can customise these to link to whatever apps you want.

To access the rest of the phone's apps you must open the main menu, which can be done either by pressing the home button or swiping upwards when on the desktop. Nine items are displayed on each page of the main menu and you can scroll left and right to access more pages.

It all sounds a little complicated and limiting, but in practice it works quite well. That said, we perhaps would've preferred the ability to add just a few more shortcuts to the home screen, rather than just four.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

GoldenGuy

August 24, 2010, 4:39 pm

Cool. Didn't notice your cellphone carrier comparison before. Nice addition, TR.

Zero

August 24, 2010, 5:18 pm

It's about time Sonyericsson added Micro USB and also Micro SD card slot wow! That's a big move for Sonyericsson. The thing that lets this phone down is battery life.

Kevsta

August 24, 2010, 7:02 pm

@Zero and a very bad Bluetooth implementation. Know of two people with these, the first the BT is switched on, and cannot find anything, nor can it it be found.





The second has a problem with the BT turning itself off.





Apparently there is a fix coming along soon.

Randy

August 24, 2010, 8:00 pm

I'm very curious about what You said about X10, Ed.





I recently bought one, the screen is glass and it's jolly to use. Keyboard is sharp, accurate and fast, build quality seems ok (though it's a shame that chrome bezel is actually lacquered plastic) and general responsiveness is very good. Is there any chance of You grabbing hold of newer version of X10 that's now on the market? I think they've updated the screen on newer models, it's now even scratch-proof. But the most important thing that's different from Your review came when i tried to draw few straight lines on mt Paint, and they were indeed straight. When i look under certain angle i clearly see dots separating conductive layer of the screen, it looks as same technology used in HTC big guns, so it seems that actually it is capable of multi-touch (Or is it completely unrelated?).





Would SE inform you if such a change like screen technology took place?

Jesper

August 24, 2010, 10:22 pm

@Randy I have had the X10 in the looking glass for a while myself, but haven't picked it up yet. As I understand the increased sensitivity and accuracy of the touch screen is because of a firmware update Sony-Ericsson released a few months ago.





Remember that this is their first attempt at an Android phone, so a few kinks was to be expected. I believe this may explain some the differences in Yours and Eds opinions of the phone.





For myself, I am holding off with my X10 purchase, until they release the advertised Q3 update to version 2.1. It should bring along DLNA capabilities, and perhaps even integration with Sonys TV sets.

Magnoose

August 25, 2010, 2:47 am

I got one of these for GF a couple of months ago.





To be fair, I find that most reviews are quite critical against this. When compared against bigger Smartphones, HTC Desire, iPhone etc, yes, its failings are apparent.


But taking it based on what it is, its a great phone. Its an ideal first Smartphone for someone who is moving from a traditional mobile phone but does not want the bulk of an HTC etc.


She wanted an iPhone at first, but is so glad that she didn't. Since getting it she has not put it down since.





Been built on Andriod, its totally customisable, if you don't like the standard interface then ditch it, look on the market place and try another one!





The review appears to infer that at £20 a month is expensive. Well, I am paying £15 a month, 100 minutes, 500mb internet and unlimited texts and the phone was free! Ideal.

LetsGo

August 25, 2010, 3:55 pm

Nice balanced review Ed.


This is what is great about the Android platform it can cater for lots of different form factors.

Chris Beach

August 25, 2010, 4:33 pm

It's biggest let down has to be Android v1.6, it's just too out of date. And you just know that they'd release a new 'model' before upgrading the OS on this one.





The customizers need to work with Google so that they can do their customization and port it to later releases in a timely manner. Not sure if the blame is on Google for moving too fast and changing too much each release, or on the manufactures for not supporting their products.

Woo jae

August 27, 2010, 9:59 pm

i don't know how i'm going to use this phone if i get it, because for me, i need bigger and high resolution screen like iphone or htc desire, and android 1.6 is also a let-down.


non-removable batteries are sort of bad thing as well, as you need to change the whole phone if battery goes bad like on an iphone.


but i do like that you can change the back if you want to, does the extra back covers come for free?

Jesper

August 28, 2010, 4:51 am

@Woo jae: Yes free covers are included. In Denmark however, you only get three, depending on your operator. But I guess that may vary from region to region.





@cjb110: For what it is worth, S-E has announced a "up to 2 years of software updates" for their phones. I know that doesn't say much, but as far as I understand, they have a slower release cycle for their phones, and they have promised a 2.1 update in Q4.

T800

August 30, 2010, 12:48 pm

Would love to see a video review of the X10 Mini Pro. The issue of Android 1.6 is a slight concern, but if Dell can release the Streak with 1.6, I'm sure SE have made a good choice on which to build a phone of this type. Having been a Palm OS user for many years, I made the move to WinMo in late 2008, but I'm now tempted to moved to Android and the X10 Mini Pro seems like a good place to start.

Geoff Richards

August 30, 2010, 1:02 pm

@T800 - err, the video review is right there...

T800

August 30, 2010, 10:28 pm

@Geoff, X10 Mini Pro is a different model that comes with a hardware QWERTY keyboard.

Geoff Richards

September 14, 2010, 4:21 pm

@T800 - sorry, I missed the "Pro" part in your comment.





The good news is we have one in for review, and it's getting the Video treatment also. Keep an eye on the site.

Bobby D

October 13, 2010, 11:44 am

I've had this phone for a few days and I'm very impressed. Battery life is great after updating the software - you can easily get two days out of it. It's very quick, the call quality is great, and it is so small! The keyboard is fine if, like me, you're coming from a three year old Nokia. Good predictive text and plenty of room for even my chunky thumbs to be swift at bashing out messages and emails. You can get an unlocked one for £170 now from a major high street chain. Recommended.

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