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Hands-on: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

Gordon Kelly


Hands-on: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

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...


Sony Ericsson UK


November 3, 2009, 2:13 pm

Most notable addition is the special anti finger smudge coating....


November 3, 2009, 2:16 pm

I'm used to reading device previews where the author notes the sluggishness of the UI, but points out that it is a prerelease device and will be optimized before it ships.

... but this doesn't often seem to happen in practice. The slow prerelease devices tend to become slow release devices. When the developers wrote the UI code originally, they knew the capabilities of the hardware and OS, and they haven't filled the code with slack that can be pared for some pseudo-magical improvement.


November 3, 2009, 2:30 pm

Nice handset & no proprietary hardware, well done Sony! Although, the screen's a let down- no OLED :(

But 4 months to market?! Forget it. This is becoming a joke, as you illude to Gordon, by then this will be obsolete in a Market place that's evolving every day right now. Between the spec / photo leaks and the actual roll out, time spans need to be reduced drastically to keep interest.

And shipping with android 1.6 in feb/march 2010? Strange.

Luan Bach

November 3, 2009, 3:39 pm

I wouldn't hold my breath on SE getting a decent phone out on time. They're singularly useless at getting a product to market. Anyone remembered how long it took for the X1 to reach the shops and how crap and buggy it was ?


November 3, 2009, 4:31 pm

What lifethroughalens said.

Expect a new and improved Samsung announced by then.


November 3, 2009, 4:35 pm

Doesn't the screen have a resolution of 854x480? That's what I saw on the specsheet of this phone on a different site. Just check this picture, near the bottom: http://www.engadget.com/pho...


November 3, 2009, 4:51 pm

All signs currently point to launch upgrades to 2.0 and release towards the end of Jan in EU/UK and in Feb sometime for US.

@simonm - yes, sometimes it doesn't happen, on the other hand look at Satio, it was a terrible performer when I used a pre-production model some months ago, but I recently used a friends retail model and it is much smoother and the screen more sensitive. Pre-production models are more a proof-of-concept to show the industry, I'm sure in the next 2-3 months SE will optimise their code and take out unnecessary background services which are needed for pre-production models (like real-time error recording etc...).

Generally it looks like a very slick phone, definitely not going to bother with Satio now and will wait it out for one of these, on that note has anyone ever ordered from Expansys? I'm currently locked into my Voda contract for 20 months at £25 for unlimited calling/texting/browsing and I don't want to give that up, but I do need a new phone...


November 3, 2009, 5:36 pm

@simonm: It's not uncommon for early devices to have extra logging and debugging processes running in the background, which can blunt performance. There could also be some flab that's yet to be optimised, like extraneous animations or inefficient drawing methods in the UI. You really can't rule out the possibility that this device could get a lot faster, particularly considering the hardware.

If you've used an HTC Hero before and after the latest ROM update, you'd see what's possible with software optimisations. The difference is stark - and that's a release device!

And yes, 4 months to market seems too long...


November 3, 2009, 5:49 pm

@Max Power: has anyone ever ordered from Expansys?

I've ordered a PDA from them in the past, didn't have any problems.


November 3, 2009, 5:49 pm

@Helmore - we were told by Sony on the day that is was 800 x 400, but I'll double check.


November 3, 2009, 5:51 pm

@Helmore yep, you're right - it was an "approximation" we were told yesterday as it turns out. Updated. Good spot.


November 3, 2009, 6:08 pm

I think 854x480 is the same as the Motorola Droid resolution.

A nice head to head competitor, although somewhat late and it's really silly not to be shipping it with Android 2.0 given the time until the release date.

Looks very interesting never the less, there seems to almost be too many manufacturers to choose from now.


November 3, 2009, 8:44 pm

I find the disparity of updates between Android devices to be a real puzzle. I thought half the point of Android was OTA updates, it's something that Apple have got right with the iPhone. I guess that's the advantage of hardware lockdown with them being the only manufacturer. I really did expect to be able to upgrade from 1.5 then 1.6 then 2.0 or whatever candy is in the Google machine as soon as it was released. Especially for vanilla devices, it's one reason I got the Samsung Galaxy - but it's still on 1.5, no sign of 1.6 and with the Droid coming out next week with 2.0 I find this one of the main let downs with Android. I like it a lot, but I think until 2 (at the very least) is standard on all devices it's still not a competitor.

All the slick UIs people are putting over it make the difference, but that shouldn't be necessary and that's much the same as them papering over the cracks of WinMob. Strange how people always go "this'd be great with Android on it", I doubt they've used Android, I think if they had they'd happily stick with WinMob in most cases.

Anyway, Android 2, Windows Phone 7 & Apple's OS4; next year looks to be a good year for phones.


November 3, 2009, 8:55 pm


Next year - with Maemo 5 & 6 as well, plus whatever happens to Symbian, plus Ubuntu Netbook Remix in a mobile etc....

The congruence of mobile phone, camera, multimedia (MP3, MP4 etc), browsing... Now if they get to the point where you can support external keyboards & monitors with a mix of local (in your pocket) and cloud storage so that you don't need larger netbooks...


November 4, 2009, 1:09 pm


Stock Android is nice but it's definitely missing a few features which need to be added. HTC added most of the missing essentials with Sense however 2.0 really looks like its gonna have most things.

Even 1.5 if definitely far ahead of WM at least in my experience.


December 15, 2009, 12:34 am

Will have this phone by this time next year :D

Hopefully Sony is prompt keeping up with the android updates ^^

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