Sony Ericsson – Xperia X10 mini pro review

miniature Android smartphone with a slide-out keyboard
Photo of Sony Ericsson – Xperia X10 mini pro
£280 (SIM free), from free on contract

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro is a superb smartphone. It is innovative and well built, though right at the outset we should note that it runs Android 1.6, which puts it somewhat behind the leading edge of devices running versions 2.1 and 2.2. It also has a 600MHz processor where its top-notch rivals sport 1GHz processors.

But the remaining features are good, with HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS all present and correct. There is 16GB of memory with a microSD card slot for adding more, and a 2GB card came with our review sample.

There is support for Exchange mobile email via the Roadsync software, as it is not natively supported in Android 1.6, and personal email accounts are also supported with, as ever, Gmail extremely easy to configure.

A 5-megapixel camera with LED flash does a reasonable job of taking photos, and these can be geotagged.

The key thing about the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro, though, is that it is exceptionally small. It is 90mm tall, 52mm wide and 17mm thick, and its small size has to be seen to really be believed. When we first heard about it we thought it would be too small to be practical, with a 2.55-inch, 240 x 320 pixel screen that on paper sounds just too tiny for serious smartphone use. But we were proved wrong in most instances.

This is in no small part due to the superb mini QWERTY keyboard and clever skin that Sony Ericsson has applied to Android. The keyboard feels solid and the separated keys are easy to find at a reasonable speed, though you may have to work a little slower than usual and smaller hands certainly have the advantage.

Entering text on the small screen is a bit of a challenge and you only get a T9-style offering. Really, though, you’d be a fool to try to use it with that mini keyboard on offer.

The main screen has a customisable icon in each of its four corners. These are nicely out of the way and make for quick access to apps. A further maximum of twenty home screens can accommodate a widget each: a new screen is added whenever you want a new widget.

Web browsing on the small screen is necessarily quite tricky, but Sony Ericsson does what it can to make it as good as possible by giving you a zoom area you can pull around over a thumbnail of a complete page so you can be pretty precise about where to zoom into, and there is more zooming made possible by tapping icons on the screen.

You can also add web addresses to the main applications menu, where they sit like bookmarks (you can save bookmarks too, of course), accessible by a single tap. They all sit at the end of the apps menu and if you frequently visit a few sites it is a great way to keep access to them handy.

One irritation that crops up with web browsing (and in other apps too) is that there’s no accelerometer. Instead you have to slide out the keyboard to get the screen to switch from tall to wide format. It works, but we think it lacks panache.

Sony Ericsson adds a few apps to Android including its Timescape application which brings tweets, SMS and Facebook messages together in one place.

The battery on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro is removable (it isn’t on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini which lacks the keyboard). We found it lasted for more than a day of average use. While what you call average and what we call average might be different, the battery does perform rather better than those in many smartphones. We’re putting that in no small part down to the small screen.

Company: Sony Ericsson

Contact: 08705 238 238

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro really surprised us. For such a small handset it is remarkably usable, and the mini QWERTY keyboard is a great plus point. Keen web users, video watchers and map users might need a larger screen, but it could work really well for social networking fans in particular.