Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro smartphone

Sony Ericsson's compact XPERIA X10 Mini Pro Android smartphone has its limitations, but it is still an impressive handset

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Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro

Pros

  • Excellent interface, good build quality, excellent keyboard, doesn't skimp on features, capable performer

Cons

  • Display lacks clarity and sharpness, Timescape app is limited, not great for mobile browsing

Bottom Line

Many people will find the XPERIA X10 Mini Pro too small. However, we found it to be a quirky but compelling handset. Sony Ericsson deserves a lot of credit for an excellent UI and a great physical keyboard, not to mention the fact that this is a fully fledged Android smartphone that doesn't skimp on the features found on larger, more expensive devices.

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A fully featured smartphone that's smaller than a credit card, Sony Ericsson's XPERIA X10 Mini Pro manages to squeeze a full, slide-out QWERTY keyboard into a ridiculously compact package. This tiny (though still somewhat chubby thanks to the keyboard) Android smartphone does have its limitations, but its redesigned user interface, rich features list and excellent keyboard make it a surprisingly good handset.

Based on the design of Sony Ericsson's XPERIA X10 Mini smartphone, the XPERIA X10 Mini Pro (yep, it's a mouthful) features identical specifications and features, but adds a slide-out, physical QWERTY keyboard to the package. This makes it slightly chubbier than the Mini, but it retains a very similar size and shape — a real achievement considering its capabilities. We were particularly fond of rounded back its case shares with the flagship Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 — this design makes it both comfortable to cup in your hand and attractive.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro possesses good build quality despite its tiny dimensions, with no loose parts, rattles or creaks. A glossy black front contrasts nicely with a matte black rear and chrome edging, giving the phone a fun and quirky look. The rear cover is removable and hides a user-replaceable battery and microSD card slot for extra storage.

A smartphone this size is obviously going to have some limitations and in this case it’s the screen that suffers most. To be fair, it does a very reasonable job considering the limited real estate, but the 2.5in display lacks the clarity, colour and sharpness of larger screens. Thankfully, text entry is aided by a surprisingly efficient keyboard. Sony Ericsson really deserves credit for managing to squeeze such a comfortable QWERTY keyboard onto a device that's so small. The XPERIA X10 Mini Pro's keys are well spaced and slightly raised for extra tactility. They are well positioned for typing at fast speeds. The sliding mechanism also feels sturdy, and clicks into place reassuringly when closed.

Sony Ericsson has done a superb job with the XPERIA X10 Mini Pro's custom user interface. Unique to this handset are four customisable shortcuts at each corner of the home screen for quick access, and an unlimited number of home screens you can add widgets to. Though you can't add shortcuts or folders and can only add a single widget per screen, the screens can be rearranged as you please, so Android's scope for customisation is still evident. Throughout the interface you'll find tweaks to make the interface suit the small screen — from a single swipe up the screen to access the main menu, to redesigned custom menus and command boxes that make ease of use a real highlight of this handset.

Like its big brother, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro has a custom interface overlay called Timescape: a central timeline of events on both your phone and social-networking sites. In a similar manner to the Motoblur UI seen on the Motorola DEXT smartphone, Timescape keeps a timeline of status updates on Facebook and Twitter. However, it goes one step further than Motorola by also including communications on your phone — missed calls and SMS and MMS messages. These events form 3D tiles that appear to be stacked on top of one another — the idea is that you simply flick your finger up and down the "spine" to scroll through everything. Despite the appealing look and feel, we feel Timescape is of limited usefulness as it doesn't show enough content on each tile. Although you can update your Facebook and Twitter status from Timescape itself, tapping a Facebook update takes you to the mobile browser version of Facebook, rather than the Android Facebook app. There is also no way to automatically link your Facebook contacts with those in your address book — you need to link contacts individually and this is a time consuming process. Timescape also lacks some advanced features, such as support for multiple Twitter accounts and URL shortening when tweeting.

Despite the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro's size, most of Android's regular functions available including the Android Market for third-party apps, an excellent notifications taskbar and automatic and seamless, over-the-air synchronisation with Google services. The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro possesses good performance, with no sign of lag or slowdown during general use. The smartphone currently runs the older 1.6 firmware of Android, but Sony Ericsson has promised an upgrade to version 2.1 at the end of Q3 this year. An update to Sony Ericsson's custom user experience platform (UXP) will also be provided at the same time, adding new features and improving the performance of the Timescape application and custom user interface.

The XPERIA X10 Mini Pro's Web browser does a reasonable job considering the tiny display, but text looks blurred unless it's zoomed in very close and clicking links can be frustrating due to the size of the screen. The XPERIA X10 Mini Pro doesn't support Flash or multitouch technology, but on such a small display, multitouch isn't really practical. Other features of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro include a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, a built-in accelerometer, a digital compass and a GPS receiver.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini Pro is available through Telstra and VHA in Australia.

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