Could 2009 have been the year of the comeback? A near death Palm shocked the world with webOS and the Pre, Motorola pulled out the Dext and then the Milestone and now Sony Ericsson is back with the ‘Xperia X10'.
Heavily leaked in recent weeks, the X10 (codenamed ‘Rachael' and incorrectly assumed as the X3) is the company's first Google Android based smartphone and it could breathe new life into the struggling handset maker. Why? In contrast to what we've long been preaching: because of hardware rather than software.
This is because with Android at the heart of so many devices right now we are getting much of a muchness. Yes manufacturers are trying to do their bit (HTC has Sense, Motorola has Motoblur) and Sony Ericsson uses the X10 to debut its ‘UX Platform' custom Android skin which adds the usual fancy animations and core Twitter and Facebook client/contact integration to Android's dull exterior.
Where our excitement really builds however is the X10 is the first handset to see the maker cut loose on the hardware spec. Consequently you'll find the X10 decked out with a 4in 854 x 480 pixel capacitive touchscreen, HSUPA, WiFi, GPS, an eight megapixel Cybershot quality camera with autofocus, flash, smile shot, etc and the flying Snapdragon chipset with a 1GHz CPU core. Storage comes courtesy of 1GB in-built plus a bundled 8GB microSD and - sensibly - a 3.5mm headphone jack. As a result, the X10 is easily the most powerful and well equipped Android handset to date and this really makes it stand out from other phones which embrace the Google OS.
Criticisms? Yes there are a few. During my brief time with the X10 I learnt that it will ship - at least initially - with Android 1.6 rather than Android 2.0 which represents something of a surprise. Furthermore Sony Ericsson admitted it would take time to fashion the UX Platform to fit each new Android build. On top of this the screen, whilst impressive, is neither AMOLED or oleophobic so it isn't as bright as the displays seen on Samsung's latest and greatest nor as finger print resistant as we'd like (as you can see from the photo). At present the operation is also somewhat sluggish, but don't read too much into this since software optimisation has yet to be done and the X10 has horsepower to burn.
So when will we get it? "Q1 2010" was the initially ambiguous answer given by Sony Ericsson reps, but I managed to whittle that down to "not three months from now and not five months from now" so February is clearly the target. That's a shame since a spit and polished Xperia X10 in time for Christmas would have thrown bazooka laden felines amongst shell shocked pigeons, but it isn't to be.
As it stands then the X10 is easily the most powerful and potentially impressive Android handset we've seen to date, but by February 2010 who knows...