Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Review

In a nutshell: The Sony Ericsson X10 is a superphone! It's a touchscreen smartphone running Google's Android operating system and layered with Sony Ericsson's unique user interface specially designed for the phone. It's supremely powerful, but very easy to use too. Tech specs include an absolutely enormous 4 inch screen, an 8.1 megapixel camera, GPS, HSPA, 1GB memory plus an 8GB memory card, and a monster battery.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
The X10 is Sony Ericsson's superphone and is one of the most anticipated handsets of 2010. What does it do? It does everything! We recently reviewed the HTC Desire - another Android phone - and described it as virtually the perfect phone. Well, The X10 is a phone that can rival the Desire. Android is certainly the operating system of choice if you want the very best that's available in 2010.

Sony Ericsson were slow to enter the touchscreen market, dipping their toe in cautiously with the Xperia X1 (running Windows Mobile) and the Satio (running Symbian). We had the impression of a company desperately in search of a strategy. But we needn't have worried, because behind the scenes they've been busy working on their own implementation of the Android operating system. As regular readers of will have spotted, Android has become our new favourite operating system, now that the early adopters who bought the first Android phones have found all the bugs and the Google guys have graciously fixed them. Android is now a smooth and powerful OS, and the Android Market is shaping up nicely, so there will be loads of apps available for the X10.

What SE have cleverly done is to layer the Android OS with their own user interface, a bit like HTC have done with HTC Sense. So what you see when you power up the X1 is interface screens such as Timescape, which gathers together all your communications for any one of your contacts. Text messages, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and even photos are all gathered together, so there's no need to open apps to see what's going on. Similarly, Mediascape brings together all your music, photos and videos. The Infinite virtual button is used to gather together all the related information for a contact or media type. The whole system comes together and works very well. It's very much like a mini computer, but geared to mobile use.

Let's get physical now. The X10's a big machine, that's for sure. But it's the same weight as the iPhone 3G S and only a millimetre or so longer. Yet it's got a screen that puts the iPhone to shame. Yep, you read that right. The X10 has a 4 inch screen, compared with the 3.5 inches of the iPhone, and almost three times the number of pixels. It's bigger than the screen on the HTC Desire and even the Nokia N900 internet tablet for that matter! We think: wow! When it comes to touchscreens, bigger is always better. It makes the virtual keyboard so easy to use you don't care that it's virtual. And the X10 supports handwriting recognition too, if you like that. The screen is capacitative, which makes it very responsive to the touch.

In fact a bigger screen is better for all kinds of things. It's certainly better for viewing photos taken with the impressive 8.1 megapixel camera. Naturally the camera has autofocus, flash and a digital zoom. It also has a smart face recognition feature which not only recognises faces when using the camera, but also recognises faces in any pictures stored on the phone. If you name a person in one of your photos, the X10 can then recognise that person in other photos! By touching the person's face, you can access contact details and other information for that person. If you're thinking that this kind of face recognition is a hard problem for a computer and that it might not have a 100% success rate, you'd be right! But it works surprisingly well most of the time.

The big screen also makes web browsing and apps like Facebook work like a dream. And with internet access via HSPA and WiFi you have a fast always-on connection to the web.

The X10 isn't Walkman branded, but fear not because it has an outstanding music player, with full support for all the features you'd expect, including a 3.5mm audio jack so you can plug in your own stereo headphones. You can also use Bluetooth stereo headphones if you prefer.

aGPS is present too, as you'd expect from a device of this type. It's integrated with Google Maps, and comes with a limited license for the Wisepilot Turn-by-Turn navigation software. As we've already noted for other applications, the enormous screen really makes the most of this feature.

A machine with this much functionality needs some heavy-duty hardware to power it, and the X10's got what it takes. The processor is the Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon processor as used on the HTC Desire and one of the fastest processors available. The phone has 1GB of memory built in and is supplied with an 8GB microSD card too. This is expandable to 16GB. The battery has a huge 1500 mAh capacity, which is about as big as it gets in the mobile world.

Is there anything missing from the Xperia X10? Well, yes a few things. There's no video calling and no FM radio. Our users tell us they don't use video calling, and you can access radio stations over the internet, provided you have an unlimited data package in your contract. Also the version of Android used is 1.6, not the latest 2.1, so the software is looking quite outdated now.


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