Sony Ericsson X10 Mini : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test. It seems a little odd to be reviewing Android 2.1 as if it's a new release when we expect Android phones to arrive with 2.2 or higher these days, but it's still a welcome update for Sony Ericsson's tiny little telephone. Obviously the hardware is still the same – click through to the later pages to read about the software enhancements now on offer in the 2.1 update. Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini Android smartphone. Announced 2010, February.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini should be nothing more than a shrunken version of the Xperia X10 – but in reality it's a whole new phone that gives Android a complete makeover. Features 3G, TFT capacitive touchscreen, 5 MP camera, Wi-Fi, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Expert Review: The tiniest Android phone takes the X10 in a new direction - Buying advice from the UK's.
Oh yes, it's small. Sony Ericsson isn't joking when it says the Xperia X10 Mini is the same size as a credit card. Obviously it's a lot thicker, but the overall size and weight of the super-small Android phone is about equivalent to a packet of Swan matches. It is tiny.
The exterior is smooth with only three buttons on the face of the phone – Menu, Home and Back – and there's no D-pad or joystick whatsoever here.
The combination screen lock and power button is on the top edge, with a volume up/down toggle and dedicated camera button on the right-hand side.
On the bottom edge sits a 3.5mm headphone jack and the micro-USB connector, which requires a sharp, unbitten fingernail to pull open the little rubber stopper that stops pocket fluff build up. It's a simple, straightforward layout.
People who are afraid of buttons won't find the X10 Mini an intimidating experience.
Inside the box of this unlocked version direct from Sony Ericsson sat the phone, a 2GB microSD card, a micro-USB connector, headphones with inline pause button and five alternate-colour snap-on back panels.
Supplied colours will vary depending on who you buy yours from, as the company's fixed up a few exclusive deals for bundling different colour cases with the networks.
But there's no battery in the box – that's permanently fixed inside the phone. You're not able to replace it yourself, as it's locked within the core of the handset beneath a few layers of circuit boards, behind those funny star-shaped screws.
It's very light and could possibly do with feeling a little heavier, if only so it doesn't blow out of your hand in a breeze. But for a phone so affordable – currently going for around £140 on PAYG deals – the X10 Mini has a remarkably high-class feel about it.
However, with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Ace and Samsung Galaxy Mini rocking up to the low-cost Android scene, it might not be enough in today's enlightened Android age.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro successor Features and specifications:
- Display: 2.55 inches TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 480 x 854 pixels
- Network Frequency: 2G-GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 | 3G-HSDPA 900 / 2100
- Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate
- Scratch-resistant surface
- Sony Ericsson Timescape UI
- Camera: 5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
- video recording: VGA@30fps, video light
- Operating System: Android OS, v1.6 (Donut), upgradable to v2.1
- CPU: 600 MHz ARM 11 processor, Adreno 200 GPU, Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset
- Memory: 128MB internal memory, MicroSD, up to 16GB, 2GB included
- Connectivity: Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP EDR, microUSB v2.0
- Data: GPRS, EDGE, 3G-HSDPA 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Internet Browser: HTML
- Messaging: SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM, Push Email
- Stereo FM radio, FM transmitter
- Games and downloadable
- JAVA applications
- Dimension: 83 x 50 x 16 mm
- Weight: 88 g
- Battery:Standard battery, Li-Po 950 mAh
- Talk time: Up to 4 h (2G) / Up to 3 h 30 min (3G)
- Stand by time: Up to 285 h (2G) / Up to 360 h (3G)
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Interface
The updated Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini now comes with the standard Android 2.1 lock screen, albeit one that's blue-tinged as with the rest of the phone's customised Android interface.
Is it a better system than Android 1.6's press-a-button-to-unlock system? It's a bit more stylish and enables you to silence the phone without fiddling around. Nothing groundbreaking, but a welcome tweak.
The Xperia X10 Mini's Android 1.6 operating system has been thoroughly, comprehensively skinned, just like its fatter older brother the Xperia X10. Gone is the usual Android Home screen, replaced by a flickable, scrolling list of widgets.
This is a most jarring change if you're an experienced Android user, with each of the X10 Mini's imitation Home pages only allowing one widget to sit right in the middle of it.
But you are allowed to have 20 active widgets on the go at once, all lined up from left to right with a screen all to themselves.
The clever part is what happens when you press the screen's down arrow or the Home button when on a widget screen – it pops up a segmented Android app drawer, with your collection of installed apps neatly tucked away beneath the headline widget in neat, three-by-three grids, so there's no extra scrolling or fiddling about to launch apps.
Basically, every app on the phone is part of this lower extension of the widgetised Home screen, which is a very clever way of maximising the X10's precious screen size and helping users navigate the phone.
Plus, each top screen has a separate shortcut icon space in each of its four corners, letting users add quick launch buttons to favourite apps.
Yes, you only get four of these links across the whole top space – but when pressing Home brings up your entire collection of installed apps anyway, it really doesn't matter. It's simply a nice little extra.
However, being Android underneath means third-party Android Market apps are all fully installable, including the alternate launcher tools and Home replacements.
Now the Xperia X10 Mini has been updated to Android 2.1, more apps are available, filling a few of the embarrassing gaps caused by the phone's use of Android 1.6 at launch.
Using the redesigned Android Market on the X10 Mini's tiny screen is quite difficult. It's hard enough navigating on a 2.5-inch touchscreen and when you're only allowed to use less than half of it it becomes harder still.
But it's quick enough to use and allows the phone to sync and access online installs from the new web-based Android Market, so is a significant improvement over the old 1.6 version of the phone. Although that's thanks to Google's recent updates, rather than Sony Ericsson's.
We tried putting the popular ADW.Launcher on the X10 Mini and it worked perfectly, giving the X10 Mini a standard Android-style desktop layout if that's what you're after – or if you just want to see how silly it looks on a 2.55-inch screen.
Again, we doubt the sort of buyer Sony Ericsson has in mind will be bothered about alternate Home launchers, but if you're worrying that the OS has been dumbed down in any way – stop. It's Android through and through. You can tweak away. Nothing's been compromised.
A particularly nice minor UI touch is the addition of a 'Delete Several' option, which pops up a tickbox on large lists of icons, making it super-easy to trim down your memory card's music or photo library content.
You'll find this a lot when using the X10 Mini – whenever you press a button expecting something to happen, the thing you hoped would happen, happens. It's definitely rivalling HTC's Sense UI, as featured on the five-star HTC Desire, in the usability stakes.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Contacts
The Xperia X10 Mini's Contacts section is a slightly simplified version of the Android default, enabling you to search through your list of friends or add a few to a Favourites tab, with each Contact page also featuring Sony Ericsson's 'Infinite Button', which links you through to any Twitter or Facebook messages posted by your contact, if you've synced them all together.
That's very clever – although the Mediascape feature of the larger Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini has gone.
The Android 2.1 update adds one new feature to the Contacts section, with the phone now able to pull in data and photographs from a linked Facebook account. To complement this is the option to only display contacts with telephone numbers, keeping things usable once all your internet friends have been pulled in.
Incoming SMS messages pop up in the Timescape combined social notifications feed, which is a pretty, if slightly restricting, service. If you're easily impressed by flickable menus you'll love it, but we find it's best to keep emails, tweets and texts separate.
There's still the Android standalone messaging tool if you want to opt out of Timescape, and we suspect most people will, plus Timescape's handling of Tweets is rather basic – the message is pulled out into a plain text box, which makes you feel a bit… disconnected.
Voice call quality is good and loud, very loud in fact, and you'll not have any problems with the X10 Mini's handsfree speaker – that's very loud, too.
Calls are handled via a skinned and simplified version of the Android dialler, with one tab for dialling and another that's a combined made/received log.
Each person's Contacts entry only displays their primary phone number and any photo you may have tagged them with, along with an email icon which pops up a new blank mail to that contact when chosen.
The Favourites tab is a visual affair that only displays icons of photos you've tagged the Contact with. So if you haven't allocated photos to people in your Contacts list, they're all represented by a generic icon – which renders the list meaningless.
The Android 2.1 email tool now supports multiple POP3 email accounts – a big improvement over the 1.6 software's odd limitation of only letting you have one.
But even with Android 2.1 onboard, the email tool isn't as automated as on other Android phones. Android is usually clever enough to automatically pull in your server details, but when setting up an external email account on the X10 Mini you have to manually input your server details.
Obviously Gmail is still in there as a custom, standalone app, so if you have a Google email account, you can do it that way.
Again, we can't help but imagine Sony Ericsson's target audience isn't going to be that bothered about the lack of clean Exchange integration.
There's one rather awkward problem, though – the X10 Mini reverts back to the ancient T9 numeric keyboard style of text entry.
There is no QWERTY alternative, so you'll be needing to remember your ABC tap-tap-tap texting skills of old. The vibrating haptic feedback helps, but you'll never be as fast on a touchscreen as on a clickable old keypad.
The only keyboard options on the phone are the vibrate/haptic on/off toggle, plus two lone typing options for the T9 tool – Multitap or Quick Text, the standard, age old numeric keypad options to switch between predictive typing and simple press-press-press individual letter cycling.
A bit of a shame, but we suspect a QWERTY keyboard on a 2.55-inch screen would be a total disaster anyway – so it's completely understandable, and to be honest you will quickly re-learn how to navigate through messages without a problem.
Usability is enhanced thanks to a tab either side of the software numeric keypad so you're able to switch to numbers or symbols easily enough, with the Android 2.1 update handling things quickly enough to make text entry painless.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Internet
The web browser is one of the larger changes you'll see when updating your Xperia X10 Mini to Android 2.1.
You now get the clever little button that sits beside the URL, which stops pages loading, or, if the page has fully loaded, switches to a Favourites management button. It's a vastly improved system over that of the old 1.6 browser.
There's still no multitouch support in the Android 2.1 update for page zooming, but the X10 Mini remains surprisingly fast when navigating web pages using the old magnifying glass tool and the new double-tap zooming feature that increases page size with each tap. The busy TechRadar home page isn't a problem for the phone.
You now get a much more powerful web experience thanks to the X10 Mini's Android 2.1 update, with a better bookmarks system, more options and sharing tools.
The X10 Mini remains a surprise star when it comes to browsing speed, though – even the most complex pages and sites load lightning fast, and navigating around them is an unbelievably smooth experience.
The phone's accelerometer does a great job of flipping the screen should you decide you want to view pages in portrait mode, reorganising the view speedily.
If you're on a slower, older phone, you probably don't bother rotating your phone because of how long it takes to redraw the page. The swift X10 Mini will turn you into a rotator.
In fact, the speed of the browser on the X10 Mini helps minimise the pain of using the web on such a small screen – only having a 2.55-inch window into the internet isn't a problem when the browser is so quick and responsive you don't mind doing the required zooming in and out to see things properly.
It also supports text reflow – so zoom into the text and you'll see the words jiggle around to fit the screen so you don't need to worry about squinting.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Camera
The X10 Mini's 5-megapixel camera with LED flash performs extremely well, offering a very quick and simple interface.
Sony Ericsson has used its corner-based UI extremely well, giving you a flash on/off shortcut, a still/video toggle, a link to the gallery and the fancier camera scene options over the top of the viewfinder image, making it extremely easy to fiddle with settings on the fly.
After taking a shot, a preview pops up, with the corner icons then switching to delete, share or set the shot you've just taken as a wallpaper or a contact picture to represent one of your friends.
Sony Ericsson could have built a rod for its own back in customising Android to such an extent, but when it works as well and as seamlessly as this it's a welcome effort.
EXTREME CLOSE-UP: The camera's macro mode is something of an unexpected delight as well, letting you take proper close-up shots without the scene resembling a foggy mess
SELF-SHOT: Macro photos look much sharper and more vibrant, too
You can't get too close, but it'll let you focus from around two inches away if you happen to be outside and see an interesting insect. Or a pretty flower. Whatever people use Macro mode for.
Photos emerge at a maximum resolution of 2592 x 1944 and are typical mobile phone quality – good enough to get the general impression, but not good enough to get car number plate details from the slightly blotchy distance.
INSIDE/OUT: Contrast between light & dark is patchy, but you'd still recognise the place
Recording your own videos gives you the option of having the flash constantly illuminated if you're filming something that happens in the dark, while videos emerge from the phone as 640 x 480 files in 3GP format.
They look okay in the rather over-sharp way that today's non-interlaced movies do. Good enough for YouTube and a local news report should something exciting happen when you're out, but not a patch on the larger Xperia X10's output.
Auto-focus now works while shooting videos thanks to the Android 2.1 update, making the X10 Mini's surprisingly usable little camera even more impressive.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Media
Sony Ericsson's jazzed up the Android Gallery in the X10 Mini too, introducing a one-finger picture zoom. Do a long-press on an image and you're then able to slide your finger up and down the screen, zooming in and out on the original file. It works well.
There's no multi-touch, but then most people would struggle to fit two fingers on a 2.55-inch screen anyway, so it's not something you'll miss – and we suspect it's something the average X10 Mini buyer won't even be particularly aware of anyway, especially not it they're upgrading from a five-year-old K750i.
Music is handled simply, with a skinned standard Android player letting you select tracks from a folder or via playlists you create using the Sony Ericsson PC Companion tool.
It's a featureless player, with the main Sony Ericsson enhancement here being the 'Infinite Button' again, which analyses the artist data of the song you're playing, then pings up a list of related content on the web, including YouTube videos.
The video playback options are rather limited. A few standard off-the-internet AVI files in DivX and Xvid format we threw at it refused to play, with the phone requiring movie files to be in H.264/MP4 or WMV formats to work.
You'll have to do a bit of encoding work to get everything playing on the Mini.
The low-resolution screen – which runs at 320 x 240 – isn't best suited to video, but the phone has the power to cope with smooth playback and swift skipping.
If you're expecting stuttering playback because of the phone's size and price tag, you're wrong. It can do it all – and the speaker is the loudest we've yet encountered.
Oh, and there's an FM radio, if you take a 'lucky dip' approach to music listening.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Applications
The X10 Mini is packed with pre-loaded apps, presumably because Sony Ericsson's planning on selling this to people who won't be too bothered about downloading their own.
Google Talk and Gmail are in, and browsing via the YouTube app is superb. If you're connected via Wi-Fi, YouTube is super-quick and the phone handles video playback – and the demanding pauses and skipping to later sections – with ease.
There's also a built-in TrackID system, which is a clone of the popular Shazam song recognition tool, linked to Sony Ericsson's PlayNow music service. Once a track's been identified you're able to listen to it again or buy yourself a version through its accompanying BuyNow service.
Tracks were priced at a rather steep £1.29 each for the recording we tried it on, so unless it's a musical emergency you'll be best not buying your stuff this way. Although it'll be hard to resist – Sony Ericsson takes payment for tracks directly via either credit card or, rather simply, a 'Premium SMS' model, which ups the price to £1.50 per track.
Google Maps is here, and even Google Maps Navigation is super-fast once you've got the initial satellite lock, with the maps flying about the place as quickly as they would on a desktop PC if you're browsing via Wi-Fi.
Bear in mind the X10 Mini ships with an older version of Google Maps, so buyers will need to be aware enough to know an updated version first needs to be downloaded through the Android Market to unlock the fully-featured GPS tool.
Other installed apps include Facebook, sat-nav alternative Wisepilot, barcode reader NeoReader and simple games Edge and Peggle. Everything you need is here for a phone of this calibre.
There's one new Sony Ericsson app included as part of the Android 2.1 update: Backup and Restore. It is what it is, a comprehensive way to save the data on your phone.
Everything from bookmarks and contacts to your text messages, phone settings and Android Market downloads can be saved, resulting in a data file on your SD card, which you can use as a restore point or copy off, burn to a DVD and encase in concrete to keep safe.
Backups can be scheduled, too, if you'd rather it did its thing automatically while you're asleep.
Live Wallpaper support is now in thanks to the Android 2.1 update, with the animating backgrounds displaying well. No Live Wallpapers are included with the 2.1 update, mind, so you'll have to download any you want via the Android Market.
And now for the most important modern performance benchmark - can it play Angry Birds?
Surprisingly, yes, Angry Birds runs very well on the X10 Mini. The recently added low-res graphics mode isn't even required, although it's a bit of a strain on the eyes playing on the tiny screen. Plus the ads look huge on the low-res display.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Battery life
Battery life was great – for a modern smartphone. During a review weekend of utterly hammering the poor Xperia X10 Mini with app installs, GPS tests, music playback, photo and video recording and more, we managed to get two days of rather full-on use out of one charge.
If you're careful with it, you'll even be able to risk leaving the house without a charger or first checking your battery status. Something of a rarity with today's power-hungry smartphones.
There's one nod to battery life provided by Sony Ericsson, in the shape of a widget that enables users to switch data traffic on and off.
This is actually pitched as a way to reduce accidental roaming fees when away from your usual network, but it'll also help stop the X10 Mini hoovering up battery to confirm that you haven't got any new emails.
Rather smartly, Sony Ericsson's installed its PC Companion desktop software on the phone itself, so the first time you hook it up to your computer you'll be prompted to install the tools.
Once installed, you're able to then install yet more SE software, like its Media Go tool, a Support Zone helper and Sony Ericsson Sync – the company's own way of ensuring your phone numbers are all backed up in case you drop your phone down a drain while out on a drunken escapade. Or, in the case of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, swallow it.
Media Go is refreshingly simple for a supplied app – it's little more than a fancy Windows Explorer screen, letting you select PC folders of your music and dump them onto phone, or organise your mobile playlists and subscribe to podcast feeds.
Fortunately, you don't have to use it at all – the X10 Mini will pop up as an external drive when connected to a PC, for your easy dumping of media. We haven't returned to the year 1998 after all.
Of course, Google still pervades the experience beneath the X10 Mini's heavily skinned exterior, so if you're not bothered about using Sony Ericsson's Sync features you can stick in your Gmail details and let Google's servers back up and organise your phone data.
Obviously the phone comes with 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi which connects quickly and painlessly, plus A-GPS for all your location-aware entertainment.
Android 2.1 also brings a big increase in Bluetooth functionality to the X10 Mini, with photo, video and contacts now transferable via Bluetooth. The Android sharing menu now includes a Bluetooth option, giving us yet another way to share data from our phones with PCs or other people's mobiles.
You're also able to send and receive web links and MP3s from the updated X10 Mini via Bluetooth. Big improvement.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Official
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini: Hands-on gallery
The smaller screen and Sony's numerous customisations make the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini feel like less of an Android phone and more like a cheerful little Nokia. It's extremely user-friendly, quick and colourful, and its lack of in-your-face Android features gives the phone a really fresh and accessible feel.
Also, you're getting an extremely capable device for the price, what with the X10 Mini available unlocked for around £140, or on numerous contract deals starting from £15 per month.
The X10 Mini is amazingly snappy to use – Home screens and menus fly about with no crunching or pauses, with practically zero noticeable lag. The phone's 600MHz processor clearly loves only having to worry about powering a low-resolution 320 x 240 display.
Some extremely user-friendly tweaks come courtesy of Sony Ericsson's numerous customisations. Android is hardly recognisable at all, and the changes are all unanimously for the better – and help get the most out of its tiny screen.
Battery life is frankly unbelievable. You'll get more than double the uptime of its full-size X10 sibling – in a phone that costs half the price. It really makes you wonder if pursuing the latest, biggest screens isn't something of a mobile phone red herring.
It really is very small indeed – anyone without dainty fingers will struggle. It's not a phone for men with a history of manual labour, put it that way, with the Back button stuck right in the corner and often rather tricky to locate in one-handed operation.
The low-resolution screen means text isn't as sharp as it could be, while web browsing can require a microscope, or at least a lot of fiddling with the zoom tool.
It's nice that Sony Ericsson has finally updated the X10 Mini to Android 2.1, but it's a little late when most new phones ship with either Android 2.2 or 2.3.
You simply don't expect a phone this small and affordable to be as fast and slick as it is. While the full-size Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 was an undeniably great piece of hardware, the laggy interface rather ruined the experience – not so here.
The custom user interface enhancements are genuine improvements on the Android base, all helping to get the most from the Mini's tiny screen. Android pros will have to do quite a bit of re-learning to cope with T9 text input and the innovative widgetised Home screens, but once you're acclimatised it all makes a huge amount of sense.
However, time hasn't been kind to the X10 Mini. Since it launched we've seen many new Android phones arrive at this smaller, cheaper end of the market, with Sony Ericsson itself managing to offer the three-inch Xperia X8, which can be bought for less than the X10 Mini.
The X10 Mini still has a place for those after a small smartphone, and its custom OS is every bit as fast and fluid after the Android 2.1 update, but there are better, cheaper, bigger phones out there for the money in 2011.
It's still a quirky, cute little phone and the Android 2.1 update does increase its functionality, but you'd be a little silly to buy one in the year 2011 when there's so much more power and screen sizes available from other manufacturers.
Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Price
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