Xperia X10 Mini – First Impressions

I just received a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini to review. While a full review is on its way, here are my first impressions.

Since the device is not yet available in the US, the contents of the box are subject to change. In the review unit box, there was a wired ear bud headphone/hands-free device with a 3.5mm jack, not the proprietary Sony Ericsson connector. There was a mini USB cable for charging and data transfer, as well as a wall adapter with a USB input. Several alternative case backings were included, showing the various ways you can skin the phone. I am assuming this is for evaluation purposes though, and won’t be in the final box. I’ll look into it and report back. There is an instruction book included, but there is also a tutorial on the phone itself.

My first impression upon taking it out of the box was that this is a really small phone. I thought the HTC Aria was small, but as you can see in the pictures below, the Aria towers above the X10 mini.

In the above images, the Xperia X10 mini is shown side by side with an HTC Aria and an iPhone 3G. The iPhone is clearly the largest, while the X10 mini is the smallest. The X10 mini is notably thicker than both the iPhone and Aria though.

Even though it is really small, I found it still felt like a good fit when I put it up to my ear as if I were making a call. The phone is designed to be used with one hand, with customizable shortcuts in each of the four corners. I found these to be pretty useful.

The main problem I’ve had so far involves inputting text. I am still tinkering with the settings, but the text input takes some getting used to. You type the letter, then choose either the first or second letter on that key, or choose the down arrow for additional choices. The drop-down menu also includes the option to type outright. I tend to default to this method for speed.

The Xperia X10 mini features Sony Ericsson’s Timescape application, a unique UI that shows your Twitter and Facebook accounts in a fun way. I was impressed with the videos of the feature, and found that it is every bit as cool in real life. In function it reminds me of the Xbox 360 version of Facebook, which I prefer over the real thing. Sony Ericsson takes the concept much further than the Xbox though, and adds quite a bit of style. I am looking forward to playing with this feature a bit more.

There has been a lot of negative talk about the Xperia X10s using Android 1.6 instead of 2.1 or even Froyo. Based on my early research and viewing the various videos available, I wasn’t too concerned. Sony Ericsson’s UI was able to mask some of the potential shortcomings. In practice, I think my initial findings proved to be true. While I noticed there were some apps missing in the Android Market, there wasn’t a terrible difference in functionality between the HTC Aria running Android 2.1 and the Xperia X10 mini running Android 1.6. When the 2.1 update comes around later this year, the Sony will likely surpass the Aria.

Overall, my first impressions of the Xperia X10 mini are very positive. Some of the problems I’ve had are simply due to being used to other UIs like Sense or Motoblur. Once I get used to Sony’s UI I expect to be able to maneuver easily through the apps. I will be covering this phone in more detail soon, as well as the Xperia X10 mini pro. I am going to spend some time getting to know the device in the mean time. I am pretty impressed with what I’ve seen so far though. I am looking forward to learning more.

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