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.