Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Hands-On Review
By on May 17th, 2010

Finally, the Xperia X10 gets reviewed on Techie Buzz. It took quite a while to explore X10 but, now here is the hands-on review of the X10.

Introduction

The Xperia X10 is the first Android device from Sony Ericsson. The Xperia X10 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor and 384MB RAM. It also has an 8MP camera with a LED light and records video in   WVGA resolution at 28fps (720P HD recording will be available with the firmware update in Q4). The 4 inch wide TFT screen is a masterpiece; I will talk about it later. It has a 3.5mm slot, micro USB port and a microSD card support which is expandable up to 16GB. It runs on Android 1.6 OS, which is outdated but the Sony Ericsson customization is worth it. Now, that is enough of the introduction, let us move straight to the review.

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Build Quality and Screen

The size of the Xperia X10 is huge (considering its dimensions) 119 x 63 x 13 mm, but at the same time it is slim and feels excellent at your palm. Surprisingly, a huge phone like X10 weighs only 135gm thanks to the plastic body. The plastic body doesn’t make the X10 look cheap at all. The X10 does look beautiful and is definitely an eye catcher.

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The TFT display of Xperia X10 deserves five out of five. It couldn’t have been better. The brightness is excellent with outstanding color display. The limited 65k color spoils the party due to the Android 1.6 OS limitation. The 16 million color hardware support is useless until Q4, when the update to Android 2.1 starts making full use of the hardware. The sunlight legibility is excellent; you won’t have any problem viewing under direct sunlight. The response of the screen is also good, though it is not as good as the Apple devices. Sony Ericsson has confirmed that X10 won’t get multi-touch in the future because of the hardware limitation. This was very disappointing from Sony Ericsson. However, multi-touch is required only during game play, because hardly anyone uses pinch zooming to zoom.

User Interface (UI)

Sony Ericsson took a very long time launching the Xperia X10 and the excuse given by them was that they are working hard to make the UXP top notch and user friendly. So, we expected the UI of X10 to be one of the best, and as expected, it definitely is one of the best. Sony Ericsson has completely customized the Android OS and given us a completely different UI. The blue colored theme looks excellent. Animations are there while opening and closing the proprietary Timescape UI and Mediascape application. Overall the UI is smooth in operation and it has few bugs.

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Timescape

The Timescape UI is an application but, you can set it as the default homescreen, hence we call it UI. If you set it as default home screen then you have to sacrifice the widgets inhabited three home screens. The Timescape is the perfect integration for your social networking, regular calls and messaging. All your Facebook, Twitter, SMS, Email, Call alerts are at one place. Each of them can be viewed in single tab sorted by time or individually under their respective tab. You don’t need to open the messaging or Facebook application separately to see the updates when you are using Timescape.

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Still there is a limitation in it because you can’t reply to any updates from Timescape; it opens the respective application if you click on them. For example if you want to reply to a SMS, it will open the Messaging to reply. Sony Ericsson said that they will make the Timescape and Mediascape even smarter and richer with the update of Q4. Hopefully, these missing features will be added by then.

Mediascape

Mediascape is an application where all your media contents are present. All your Music, Videos and Pictures are sorted in their respective tabs. Under the Music tab all your music files are sorted in recently played, recently added and favorites. You can also activate the online music store if it is present at your region. The online music store will display the latest music under the music tab only. One problem is there in the Music tab; you can’t create a playlist on the phone. You have to create one in a PC using the MediaGo application and then upload it to the phone. I don’t miss it much because I use the Favorite tab to mark my favorite songs. The Pictures and Video tabs are both sorted by recently taken and viewed while you can always see the detailed view. Online web albums like Picasa and Facebook can be added, and your uploaded pictures will also be displayed.

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Camera and Audio Quality

The 8 MP camera on the X10 is the best amongst all the Android devices. It has excellent sharpness and colors in the pictures with features like Face detection, Touch capture and multiple auto focus which make it perfect. The LED light is not very bright, but it is not bad and something is always better than nothing. The video recording is very good and the maximum resolution is currently WVGA which will be upgraded to HD later.

The audio quality on the X10 is great, and it is easily one of the best. The loudness is just right, and you won’t need it any louder unless you are deaf. The bass is good. Again, there is no equalizer, but you will hardly miss it because of the balanced audio quality.

Web Browser, GPS, Android Market and Keyboard

The web browser on the X10 lacks flash for now. The HTML browser works pretty well. Unfortunately there is no double tap zooming, you have to use the on-screen zoom buttons to zoom. The text re-flows to fit the screen when zoomed. Multiple windows can be opened by pressing the windows button. Overall, the web browser, just like any other Android browser is flawless. For watching videos, the YouTube application does the trick for now.

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The GPS receiver works pretty well, it locks in the location within 3 minutes inside a building (the floor below the terrace) and you can always turn on the aGPS for quick locking. The only Navigation application which comes pre-installed is Wisepilot, which is limited to a 30 day trail. The Google Maps application has voice search and features like Street View; if Street Views is available in your area then it is a must to use it. The Street View shows the real images of a particular location. Google is working on free voice guided navigation, which is available in USA and UK. It will hopefully be available worldwide sooner than later.

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The Android Market is growing day by day. We already know that the number of applications on Android has crossed the 50000 mark and it is likely to go even further. The Market has three options in the homepage; Applications, Games and Just In. You will get further sub options under the Applications and Games options. Everything is well organized. The 500MB allocated memory for installing applications seems to be just enough as I installed around 80 applications including few heavy games and still have 260MB free.

The standard keyboard worked pretty well but it took quite a long time to get used to it. I had many typing errors earlier, I think Sony Ericsson will have to work a bit on it. But, if you don’t like the standard keyboard, then you can always switch to the other keyboards available in the Android market.

Connectivity and Battery

Xperia X10 has quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, three localized versions – each with tri-band 3G, 7.2Mbps HSDPA and 2Mbps HSUPA. The Wi-Fi b/g works pretty well. There has been news regarding a problem with the Wi-Fi connectivity, the Wi-Fi gets disconnected when the GSM network completely goes down. I tested this and it turned out to be true but that is not a big problem because no one is going to live with his X10 inside a cave. Bluetooth 2.1 is present with A2DP and file transfer. The file transfer speed is excellent (around 190KBps with phones like E72, W995 and Satio).

The battery is an interesting topic in the X10. The 1500mAh Li-Po BST 41 is a beast. But the users reported for quick discharge of the battery in the early stages. During the first week of usage, I noticed that the battery went down from 100% to 60% during a period of 10 hrs when it was lying idle at night. The solution was better management and full discharging and then recharging the battery 4-5 times. Now, the battery gives good backup, it handles one full day after heavy usage.

Conclusion

Xperia X10 is the first Android phone from Sony Ericsson and it is a very good attempt. Top notch UI with excellent screen display, great camera and audio quality makes it a complete all rounder. However, the lack of multi touch is a negative, as some users would like to have it on their device. The outdated Android 1.6 is also a drawback because many Android 2.1 handsets are available in the market, and you also have to wait till Q4 for the Android 2.1 update. The X10 gets a tough competition from HTC Desire which has three advantages over X10, multi touch, Android 2.1 and 576MB RAM. Xperia X10 does have a unique integration of social networking and call logs by Timescape and the UI which is completely different from the rest of the Android family and is perfect. Sony Ericsson also has promised for future updates for the X10, which means it is assured to get updated to the latest Android versions. So, it is not something which will disappear in the crowd and it is worth buying.

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Author: Rahul Shah

Rahul Shah has written and can be contacted at rahul@techie-buzz.com.

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