The idea behind Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini is very much in-line with the Nokia N97 mini and the HTC HD mini mobile phones. Launching a smaller, streamlined version of the full blown flagship model, the Sony Xperia X10 at lower prices to attract more buyers., it's not always worked wonder for Nokia or HTC, let's find out if Sony Ericsson does things a little differently.
Sony Ericsson has done an impressive job in terms of design: it's miniscule size and slightly curved design is an attention drawer.
The Xperia X10 mini is a full touchscreen Android phone with no physical keyboard. It is the most compact Android smartphone that we have seen so far. Sony Ericsson has done an impressive job in terms of design: it's miniscule size and slightly curved design is an attention drawer. It can easily be palmed in your hand or slipped in your pocket. And to make it more exciting, the phone came with five different interchangeable covers (silver, pink, red, yellow and white color) which is a bonus. The full black body has a glossy front while the sides and the back are covered by a matte cover. The front is covered by the touchscreen with just three physical keys at the front (home, menu and back). On the right side, there is a volume rocker and camera capture button while the top has one button for power or hold. The bottom has microUSB port protected by a flap and a 3.5mm headphones jack.
For a phone this small and compact, it’s quite amazing how Sony Ericsson still managed to pack all the essential features which were usually reserved found on the phones almost double its size. The X10 mini has a 2.55-inch, QVGA (320x240 pixels) capacitive touchscreen with 16 million colors support. It is powered by the Qualcomm 600Mhz processor, and 128MB of internal memory which can be upgraded via its microSD slot ( we should thank Sony for giving up its proprietary memory card). It has built-in accelerometer for automatic screen orientation. The Xperia X10 mini has a 5MP camera with autofocus and an LED flash. It supports Geo-tagging and it records VGA (640x480 pixels) video at 30 fps. There are only few basic settings available that includes Auto, Macro, Sports and Twilight shooting modes.
The X10 mini supports WiFi, 3G and EDGE connectivity. Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP is also available. For navigation, it has a built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS support.
For the interface, as in the bigger Xperia X10, Sony Ericsson uses the same and outdated Android 1.6 on the X10 mini with Sony’s proprietary Timescape interface which shows updates from Facebook, twitter, messages and missed calls. Mediascape found on the Xperia X10 is missing though. Sony wisely provided four customizable shortcuts on each corner of the Home screen to optimize the small real estate. There are multiple home screens which allow you to drop one widget on each page. Sony also has modified the default Android application page by giving page by page view like the iPhone with 3x3 icons grid on each page. Going through pages is as easy as swiping finger across the screen. The battery on the X10 mini is not removable which is quite unusual and would require taking the phone to service center in case something goes wrong with the battery.
The mini uses the default Android browser and it does not support multitouch which was the case with the Google Maps as well. There are a few but useful apps apart from the usual Google application. Wisepilot and Google maps for navigation, Facebook and YouTube apps are included. Dataviz Roadsync also is also present to sync contacts, mail and calendars with Microsoft Exchange Server. The new Sony Ericsson sync is also included to sync your data in case if you don’t use either the default Google data sync or Roadsync. There are two games preinstalled as well – Peggle and trial version of Edge.
The build quality is good and despite its small size, the phone offers good grip on hands, There were slight creaking noise when the side buttons were pressed which is not a big issue but quite unusual for a phone in this price range. The front has a glossy finish which attracts smudges and fingerprints- however, the screen is bright and responsive. The screen size is good enough for viewing message, captured images and contacts, but is definitely not an option if you are into watching videos and mobile browsing. It is also quite resistant to scratch which is a good thing as you could easily slip the phone in your pocket or a bag with coins, keys or other sharp objects that could scratch the screen. The screen visibility outdoors and under bright sunlight is just average and the reflective nature of the screen does not help either.
Typing on the screen is not an issue, thanks to the big virtual keypads and responsive touchscreen. T9 input is also supported which makes things much easier and typing short messages was not an issue. However, if you are heavy on text-ing, the Xperia X10 mini Pro would suit you more.
The X10 mini does not offer smart dial, however, picking contacts from the phonebook is easy, thanks to the smooth kinetic scroll and the responsive touchscreen screen. Call reception was good during our tests, callers voice were loud and clear and they did not have problem hearing us from their end. The onboard speaker also sounded richer and louder than most similarly sized multimedia phones reviewed earlier.
Synching, Online, Browsing and GPS
Synching over the air with Google data ( contacts, calendars, e-mail) happened smoothly and the Sony Ericsson Sync also let us sync the phone data to the server in a couple of minutes. The default Android browser is good enough to let us browse multiple sites with no issue except for the lack of Flash and multi-touch support. There are other browsers like Dolphin or Skyfire which we downloaded from the Marketplace and could let us browse Flash based sites. However, the screen size and the slightly slow experience on the Xperia X10 mini offered just average mobile browsing experience. This includes the Timescape interface as well. Even though it displays updates from Twitter, Facebook, calls and SMS, the response was slow and transitions from one screen to another was jerky and sluggish which spoiled the whole experience. Stand-alone apps for Facebook or Tweeters are better bets.
Google maps handled navigation quite well with good reception. Though Google maps misses out on features like voice guided navigation, the bundled Wisepilot navigation software offers this and many more useful features for better GPS navigation.
Music playback on the X10 mini is great for an Android phone. The bundled in-ear headset is clearly above average. It delivered adequate bass and highs, and rich mids which is very good for a phone. The player is just a basic player with not much extra features or enhancements. Its FM radio also has a good reception and the program/app has a simple interface with auto-scan feature that worked flawlessly. We could also mark favorite stations well which make accessing them easier again.
As far as videos are concerned, the small screen is far from perfect while watching video but playback was smooth and colors were well saturated. It does not play DivX and XviD videos out-of-the-box, but, you can get apps for it from the Marketplace.
The 5MP camera on the X10 mini performed admirably. It was quick to focus even in low light with very low shutterlag for a camera phone. The flash worked quite well for low light portrait shots. Images showed good colors and satisfactory details.
Sharpness is a bit lacking though as our captured images were a tad soft than we’d liked. Due to the small form factor, it was also a bit difficult to hold the phone still; this makes it hard to capture sharp images at times. Macro mode worked well but as usual, low light photos were just acceptable as images lacked details and sharpness.
Videos recorded in VGA resolution were good enough for posting it on YouTube and audio recorded was in mono. Clips have good colors and sufficient details but once again, don’t expect good result in low-light conditions.
Overall, the camera performed well for a phone in this price range even with only a few basic features. It suits best for shooting portraits.
The phone’s battery lasted a day and half after under normal usage which includes browsing over WiFi, making few calls and constantly using its multimedia features.
While the Xperia Mini X10 does not have any glaring faults, it isn't spectacular in any department. The small size brings a significant compromise in terms of lesser screen size and quirky handling for users who are accustomed to normal sized phones. However, the Xperia Mini X10 clearly caught the fancy of our female colleagues who were completely at ease while dealing with the tiny phone. And the phone despite its diminutive size offered good performance across the board. So, may be, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is a special offering by Sony Ercisson for the female population looking for a "size-zero" touch screen phone that is powered by a very capable Android OS.
Read our reviews of other latest Android phones : Motorola Milestone, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 , HTC Legend , Acer Liquid , LG GW620 , HTC Tattoo, Samsung I7500 Galaxy, HTC Hero , HTC Magic