Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

Sony Ericsson's Xperia X10 - good but not great

Sony Ericsson's Xperia X10 - good but not great

The Xperia X10 looks and feels like a real smartphone challenger but the implementation of Android is lacking, stopping it from having the punch needed to compete with HTC and Apple.

Overview:

The Xperia X10 hits all the right points in terms of its specification.

Its decent-sized touchscreen, though not the sharpest out there, is of good quality. The 8.1mp camera gives decent results on shots and includes facial recognition tagging. It has a decent battery which – during trialling – could last up to 2 days without a recharge (though only with the help of an App Killer, as is a pre-requisite for all Android phones). There is also all your standard connectivity – WiFi, Bluetooth, A-GPS – and media playback functions.

All of this acts as a good base for an Android phone and Sony Ericsson have put some effort into customising the software for themselves but it is lacklustre in certain areas. This is most apparent in its ‘Timescape’ function (see below) which seems quite in-depth but proves to be impractical in practice.

Sadly the touchscreen itself is also not as responsive as it should be. For general usage it is fine but for certain things – like moving apps around or even trying to unlock the screen – it is far too easy for contact to ‘drop’, which can get frustrating.

The latter issue is the bigger of the two as Timescape can easily be bypassed if desired, however it should be stressed the screen is not bad – it is just lacking.

Overall the hardware and software combine well – something that is often a hurdle too high for Android phones – and the device looks slick enough to appease the eye.

What is Timescape?

Billed as the big draw of this phone, Timescape is intended to be a social networking hub, where all of people’s communications – from Twitter to Facebook to SMS – is pulled together and displayed in one stream.

In reality this is a bad interface to try to use, especially when you want to quickly scan through a long list of tweets or facebook updates. In reality, heavy users of both services would be better off downloading dedicated clients through the Android Market rather than relying on Timescape for such updates.

What is impressive is the phone’s ability to collate all communications with a single contact across various platforms into one place – including pictures you may have of them on your phone (there’s that facial recognition technology again). Unfortunately this requires a bit of messing around from the user’s end as the phone is not generally smart enough to connect Twitter accounts and phone contacts together by itself. When it does work it works well, however.

And Mediascape?

Sony Ericsson’s other bit of custom software – Mediascape – is far better. Here all the phone’s video, picture and audio content is made available in a handy grid interface, probably one of the better seen on an Android phone.

It is easy to navigate and even has a connection to online content via Sony’s own PlayNow service – though this obviously assumes the user has a connection and account here.

Verdict:

All this considered the Xperia X10 is a good but not great phone. It looks good and has a nice screen, while its software and UI flaws are minor enough to be easily avoided.

It is not the best advertisement for Android, however, and very much has the feeling of a phone-based experiment of sorts. But as a first real attempt at Android Sony Ericsson have done OK – hopefully future versions or even a software update will iron out the cracks.

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