Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 - Screen & Interface

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Unlike the iPhone, the back of the X10 is removable (with a bit of effort) and underneath is the usual SIM slot and battery as well as a microSD slot, which again is something not always present on Sony Ericsson devices. It can accommodate cards up to 32GB in size – plenty for loads of music, photos, and videos – and you get an 8GB card in the box. There's also a sizeable 1GB of onboard storage so there's ample room for downloading apps.

At 4.1in and with a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, one of the big draws with this phone is its screen. It uses LCD technology rather than the much loved OLED so you do get some colour and contrast shift when viewed from an angle but it's not so severe as to be at all distracting in everyday use. Likewise colour vibrancy isn't quite as high as OLED displays but is still more than satisfactory for watching video, browsing the web, etc. Also, that high resolution makes it very sharp and you can fit loads of information onscreen. All told, it's generally a joy to look at, fingerprints aside.

Things are less rosy when it comes to interacting with the display. While the touch-sensing is capacitive, it isn't anywhere near as accurate as the best on the market. Using the simple touchscreen accuracy test pioneered by Moto labs, the screen showed highly erratic results with severe amounts of wavering. This is shown particularly when using the keyboard, as it's nearly impossible to regularly hit the correct key. Some of this is due to the poor keyboard layout and its small spacebar, but mainly the screen simply doesn't correctly sense where you've put your finger. It is, of course, pretty close and if you're slow and careful it gets it right. Build up a head of steam, however, and you've no chance. We do at least like the software arrow keys for moving the cursor accurately through text.

Being based on Android, most of the software and interface is pretty familiar but there are a few neat changes that Sony Ericsson has made. First, and it's a simple one, is the unlock gesture. When you press a button, a quarter circle appears on screen, which you then slide your thumb along to unlock the phone. It perfectly fits the arc of motion of your thumb so feels completely natural, and you can flip the arc to be right- or left-handed. We also like most of the design tweaks that give the phone a cohesive and up-to-date feel – unlike the standard Android design that looks a bit drab – though we're not sure about the limitation of just three desktops.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


May 10, 2010, 3:53 pm

I would find it hard to justify buying a top end phone running 1.6. SE have said that the 2.1 upgrade will be released in Q4. That's just ridiculous. Android could be on 2.5 by then. You could maybe understand if this was a budget handset but for the price you have to pay it's just unacceptable.

You keep saying how the hardware buttons are superfluous on Android handsets. Personally I appreciate having proper buttons and love the menu button. Regardless of the app you always know where to tap for more options. Also love the search button too. One button may be simple but normally means things take more steps.

You then mention a hardware silencer switch but Android deals with this quite elegantly with the mute slider on the lock screen.

Obviously it's all just personal preference but I don't think more buttons necessarily imply a poor UI.


May 10, 2010, 4:11 pm

The thing about the search and menu buttons is it just feels completely incongruous to be using an entirely touch driven interface then suddenly have to press a button. Also, you say the Menu button is convenient because you always know where it is. However, because it's context driven, you're never quite sure what's going to appear there and what's going to be a software option. For me this just adds confusion.

As for the Mute button, because this is an action you more often than not perform when the phone is in your pocket or when not doing anything else with the phone, it makes sense to have a physical button, just as it does to have physical volume controls.


May 10, 2010, 4:38 pm

My cousin got this phone a few weeks ago.

Disappointed by the photos the camera takes. My 2MP gives overall better looking pictures due to the X10's poor colour reproduction.

@Ed- I also need a physical mute button.

Finally I found the GUI confusing and will definitely be sticking with what I have, until say the 7th of June...

Graham 4

May 10, 2010, 5:27 pm

I understand why you dislike the proprietary SE connectors but please don't forget that those of us who have used SE phones for a while are likely to have a number of peripherals that use those connectors. Now if we wish to swap to a phone like this we have to throw all those away as well. For some people their continued presence was an advantage!


May 10, 2010, 9:03 pm

I love hardware buttons. I had several Palm PDA's and a Treo 650 before switching to Android, so that may be a reason. What I liked those buttons for was that they gave me quick access to the most important functions and that I had the liberty of choosing what those important functions were to me.

Back to Android, I'll give you just one example: I recently found (another) good reason for having a Search button. Just download Quick Settings (free on the Market), press and hold the search button and voila!, you are able to quickly access all the important settings you chose, no matter what application you are running at that time.

Apple's one button design might be beautiful but it's less functional IMHO. It's like having only a speedometer in your car. You can do just fine but then, why do almost all cars have more than that in their dashboards?

Look at the iPhone OS v4 that's coming, see how they struggle to do all those things with just one button? I think it's time we stop using the iPhone as the "de facto" standard by which we judge all other phones/OS's. At least until they show again some true innovation.

P.S. Nice review. Really, I liked it a lot!


May 10, 2010, 9:06 pm

why do they always have to put a silly skin over the top of android, android isn't ugly and it is as fully functional as pretty much any skin tries to better it, and it sure wouldnt hurt the updateability when this comes with 1.6! I mean come on sony 1.6! I think it's pretty safe to say that 2.2 will never come to this device even though it may be coming out in only one month


May 10, 2010, 9:39 pm

@Sorin: I agree that having, say, shortcuts assigned to the directions on a D-pad would be useful as these are customisable to what you want and the D-pad doubles for, well, directions. However, a dedicated button just for a function I very seldom use seems completely pointless. Obviously this is just me but a quick ask round the offices' four iPhone users reveals only one of us has ever used the search function thereon.


May 10, 2010, 9:40 pm

@Sorin: Oh, and thank you. :)


May 10, 2010, 9:49 pm

Well, if you ask iPhone users they will obviously tell you they don't need more than one button :-)

Joke aside, it's down to personal preferences. I personally like the search button but don't see the use for a ringer mute button. Or a camera button. (DISCLAIMER: I have an HTC Desire).

But my main argument is: if you don't have a button you won't use it. If you do have it it's your choice to use it or not. I like having a choice!


May 11, 2010, 12:06 am

There is really no reason to buy this is there?, the only reason you might get it over the latest Htc phones running android (which are technically better phones and a fair bit cheaper) is the camera... but lets be honest its a smartphone.


May 11, 2010, 3:56 am

@Ed @Sorin

I guess it really is just a preference thing. I do think that the one button iPhone is simple but just lacks functionality. Then you have to result to long tapping and double tapping. I actually feel like my Desire is 2 buttons short as I really miss the call and end buttons my Hero had. Yes it can be done in software again but for speed there's no contest.


May 11, 2010, 11:48 am

No more flashy designs and menus. I left Sony Ericsson 3 years ago and i don't see me coming back.


May 11, 2010, 1:25 pm

sony really have lost the plot.whats this ? the most expensive phone money can buy,behave.


May 11, 2010, 1:26 pm

@Sorin: Just to clarify, I meant us iPhone users had never used search, not that we preferred one button. Thus why the search button seems particularly pointless.

Nicholas Phan

May 11, 2010, 1:29 pm

if i'm not mistaken, the screen is mineral glass


May 11, 2010, 1:54 pm

@Nicholas Phan: The fact they'd put a layer of (not very effective) scratch resistant plastic on it would suggest otherwise - the whole point of glass screens is they essentially don't scratch. It also flexes somewhat.


May 12, 2010, 8:30 pm

@ravmania: I too miss the Call/End buttons! But I also miss my keyboard (ex G1). No matter how good a touchscreen keyboard is it will never be as good as a hardware keyboard. I might just be old school...

@Ed: Well, I search a lot! Not just the web but my emails, my notes, music and so on and having a dedicated search button just makes sense on Android, speeds things up. I think search is a big deal on a smartphone where you keep a lot of information.

It is a matter of personal taste (you can't please everybody), but I do search a LOT more than I mute my phone, so this is why I'm saying that a search button makes more sense than a ringer mute switch.

Nicholas Phan

May 15, 2010, 1:10 am

@Ed it is mineral glass


May 15, 2010, 9:28 pm

I've had my X10 for a month and have found plenty of quirks with the X10 that would make it a deal breaker for some.

Firstly, Bluetooth support. Using Mediascape to platy music in-car isn't fantastic - it's impossible for me to change back/forward tracks with the controls on my head unit - I have to go to the phone... yet the head unit controls work perfectly with the Spotify music app. My SE W980 didn't have that problem.

Whilst 1.6 isn't too much of a concern for me, the suggested November release of the 2.1 update will be a big problem - even if it's scheduled to bring 720p video recording to the X10.

@Ed - I'd also agree with the screen - there's already a mark on mine that I can't remove too easily.

I'm also really missing the FM transmitter/radio my old W980 had - niche features perhaps, but for me a major omission.

Saying that, I really like the Timescape app - the major selling point for me and I find it more than good enough for my needs (same goes for the camera - I've not seen any problems with colour reproduction). But I'd probably recommend the HTC Droid Incredible as a better Android phone.


May 19, 2010, 5:22 pm

Having read the review the scores seem very high!

evan fotis

September 8, 2010, 2:06 pm

As a phone it is not practical. My 5 year K750 is way better...

And it should ship with a stylus.

"Smart Phones" with default multitasking ought to be named "Dumbphones".

Just download Advanced task killer (a must app) and see how many apps are running without even knowing about it.

No wonder it gets sluggish and unresponsive.

Mediascape is garbage. In Playlist it is hard to see current song.

Does not zoom to 100% of images nor shows zoom level. (and why not use volume buttons for zoom like in old se phones?)

On the plus side, nice 3 desktops, and sleek design.

Signal is better than my Nokia E52.


October 11, 2010, 6:53 pm

Hi if you want to make calls dont buy this phone the reception, and the speaker loudness are rubbish, if you want a good camera great save yourself £450 and go buy a camera (ex Sony ericsson fan)


November 28, 2010, 7:10 pm

That plastic is a shipping plastic on the screen and should be removed. The screen is a scratch resistant mineral glass. I have this phone and I remove the plastic on the second day that I got it. This should be corrected, it's mineral glass not plastic, that plastci is a shipping protector only and should be removed before using. SE might sue you for misinformation...


August 28, 2011, 12:11 pm

My x10 keeps switching itself on and off. It takes hours to switch it back on again. It has been off for repair twice.........and its now worse than ever. After some internet research, i see that I am one of many with the same problem. When are Sony Ericsson going to accept that this problem exists with far too many owners of X10 and offer a real solution.

Raquel Villanueva

September 19, 2013, 5:21 pm

my x10 always crashes..and turns on and off by a prblem with headset ang charging too...what to do sony!!!!!

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