There's been a lot of hype about the Xperia X1, not least because it's Sony Ericsson's first handset to use the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system since dropping the UIQ software that was found on its previous smartphones. The handset has been designed by Sony Ericsson, but is actually built by HTC and although the design looks very different to the HTC S740, the technology inside seems to be surprisingly similar.
First things first, the Xperia looks fantastic. There's a real wow factor to the design as its surprisingly compact, especially when you consider that it houses a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard within its small frame. It also feels very solid - much more so than, say, the HTC S740. In part this is because there's more metal used in its shell. The battery cover, for example, is an all metal affair not simply plastic with a metallic coating. However, the extra expanse of metal does make it feel a little heavier in your hand.
Around the edge of the handset you'll not only find a dedicated camera button and a volume rocker switch, but also a standard mini USB port for syncing and charging the device along with a full sized headphone jack. The latter is particularly welcome as it hasn't even yet found its way onto most of the company's Walkman music phones.
The keyboard is naturally one of the device's key features and you only have to apply a small amount of pressure with your thumb to slide it smoothly out from under the main body of the phone. As it slides out it causes the screen to tilt slightly upwards so it sits at a nice viewing angle.
This combined with the fact that the rear of the unit is completely flat means that unlike HTC's S740, you can happily type with two fingers while the handset sits on a desk. The keys are backlit and well spaced, but Sony has not added dedicate numerical keys. This may disappoint some, but we think the extra space this allows between the keys makes it a sensible decision.