Elsewhere, much of the interface is standard Android except for the keyboard and the addition of Timescape. Timescape is SE’s social networking hub, and it provides a one stop shop for viewing all your friend’s messages and status updates from Facebook and Twitter in one long stream. It’s a bit of a hassle to setup and once done it adds little to the user experience, but if you desperately want such a thing then it’s there.
As for the keyboard, SE has heavily customised it, completely dropping a QWERTY layout and sticking with a nine button keypad. This obviously slows progress, but the text prediction engine is reasonably powerful so you seldom have to go back and correct mistakes.
An intriguing addition is the way you access the alternate characters. Instead of tapping a button to toggle what characters are displayed, you swipe left and right moving from a letters screen to a numbers screen and finally a special characters screen, the latter of which you can scroll down to access all manner of emoticons and other odd symbols.
It again sounds a little odd, but works well in practice. However, what doesn’t work so well is having the backspace button in the bottom left hand corner – almost exactly opposite where you’d normally expect to find it on a keyboard – and the screen’s lack of multi-touch. The latter means the screen can’t cope if you have more than one finger on the screen at one time, so if you’re typing fast with two thumbs and you inadvertently have them both in contact at once then no press is registered causing you to mistype words. This limits you to a fairly slow typing speed, which is probably fine for relatively slow texters, but for people that are used to bashing out emails and SMS messages in quick time on a QWERTY keyboard, it will feel positively glacial.
Overall performance of the phone is impressive, though. It generally feels quite nippy when flicking back and forth between programs and when running apps, like the aforementioned web browser. Connectivity is also impressive with HSDPA and HSUPA, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth all on-board. What’s more, despite its small size, battery life was a decent two days for average use and call quality was more than acceptable.
As for cost, while this is a relatively budget phone compared to true high-end smartphones, at around £250 SIM free and free on contracts of £20, it’s not entirely budget either. Nonetheless, it’s one of the cheaper fully fledged smartphones available and certainly the smallest!
As with the HTC Wildfire, the X10 mini is not going to be for most smartphone fanatics as its small and low resolution screen will simply feel too restricting. However, it’s surprisingly usable and if size is your primary concern there’s simply nothing out there that matches it.
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