Sony Ericsson X10 Review

April 18th, 2010

When I think of Sony Ericsson and smartphones the first thing that I think of is that they were all late. The P800, was late, so was the P900, P910, etc all the way to the Xperia X1. Now we have the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, an Android phone. On paper it’s a nice phone; 4″ 854×480 display, 1Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.  SE also launched it in a timely matter. So how is it? Read on.

As I just mentioned the display measures an impressive 4.0″ with a resolution of 854×480. Compared to the Google Nexus Ones which has a 3.7″ 800×480 displays you get an extra 54 vertical pixels. While 0.3″ doesn’t sound like much I can really tell that the display is  larger. That said I don’t really notice the extra resolution. Sometimes the X10 uses really small text which can be difficult to see; particularly at the top of the screen. I think it’s a Sony-ism; they think small text is cool. That’s why some of their laptops have relatively high resolutions for their display size. It’s an LCD display (as opposed to a OLED one) so compared to my Nexus one the X10′s screen’s colour isn’t as intense but at the same time it works better outdoors in direct sunlight.

Check out my first impressions which includes a quick tour of the device.

The X10 feels lighter than it looks which makes it feel slightly cheap but really build quality is fine. The back is covered with rubberized paint.

It has slight curves on it and fits well in your hand.

I only have 2 minor complaints, first off the micro USB port has a cover on it. I’m not a fan of those. Secondly none of the physical buttons light up! For the 3 menu buttons in front there is a light behind them but it only lights up the space between the buttons so you can’t see the markings above them when it’s dark. Basically it’s like light seeping through on a cheap phone.

The keyboard is slightly different from the default Android keyboard. The X10′s keyboard has more keys along the bottom of the keyboard including left and right buttons which are useful since the X10 doesn’t have a navigation pad. There is also a smiley button. When you’re typing the predictive text has up to 2 rows of guesses. There is an option that will vibrate the phone when you type (it was off by default on mine). There’s also an auto-correct option which didn’t work for me even though it was turned on – That was really annoying.

Given the size of the X10′s display I wish the keyboard was a little bit taller but this is really a minor thing. One problem I have with the Nexus One is that its sides are too curved which makes it difficult to type on – the X10 back of the X10 is curved but the front isn’t so it’s easy to type on.

The X10 comes with Google customizations so you get Google Maps, Google Talk and Gmail. On every Google customized Android device I have tried signing into a Google service automatically populates my phonebook and calendar. On the X10 you can choose to sync with Google or Sony Ericsson (or presumably you can use Moxier to sync with Exchange). You have to pick which one you want to choose before you can sync.

Sony Ericsson is really touting their Mediascape and Timescape applications.

Mediascape is basically a media player with some extra functionality. It will let you view pictures/video/music on your device.

The X10 has facial recognition so it recognize faces (up to 5 per photo) so once you’ve tagged a photo with someone’s name it will automatically recognize them in the future so you view all pictures with that person in them. You can also view pictures by date plus there is a section where you can view your Facebook (wall, profile and albums) and Picasa photos.

When listening to music Musicscape  can go out and download album covers (provided you’re connected to WiFi) plus you can search Google and YouTube for similar content. Particularly you can search YouTube without having to leave the application. It will launch the YouTube app if you click on a result. The Rogers X10 has integration with their music store (which apparently has some DRM free music) so you can buy music from there. Music can be viewed or searched by Track, Artist, Album and Genre.

Another thing I like about the X10 is that you can move skip forwards/backwards by pressing and holding the volume buttons.

Mediascape is a very cool program and reasonably well thought out. My only comment is that sometimes I don’t want all the features turned on; it would be nice if there was a ‘simple’ mode which is just a music player.

Timescape is an even more interesting program. Basically it takes your SMS, Email, Facebook, Twitter, Call History and even photos and music and ties them together. It’s sort of a history of what’s going on with each. There’s a list of what happened to each of them in chronological order. So let’s say you got a SMS from someone then you listened to some music and then a friend updated their Facebook. Timescape will have in order the Facebook update followed by the song you listened to and then the SMS.

You can sort the list by each SMS, Email, Facebook update, etc or you can view them all on a list as they’ve happened. It actually a really efficient way of managing all of them since you can do it all from within the Timescape.

Like I mentioned the X10 automatically runs photos through facial recognition so photos will automatically be associated with their specific contact.

If you click on a list item there’s a context sensitive list of things you can do; you can call them, send SMS, etc.

One thing I noticed about Timescape is that there is no instant messaging support plus it doesn’t integrate with the Gmail app (I’m not sure if it integrates with Moxier) so you’re stuck using it with a POP3, IMAP4 or Hotmail account. Of course you can always enable IMAP on your Gmail account.

Overall Timescape is a really useful application. It’s a real time saver since you only have to open one program instead of separate Facebook, Twitter, SMS, Email, etc programs.

You get the Android web browser which works well. It’s good if you like to browse multiple webpages at once. The X10′s version of this browser doesn’t support multi-touch which is a shame since some HTC Android devices, the Motorola Milestone and Nexus One all support it.

As far as Email goes you can check your Gmail/Google hosted email using the Gmail app. IMAP and POP3 can be checked with the mail app while Exchange functionality is courtesy of Moxier Mail. Moxier also handles Exchange calendar syncing thought I didn’t test Moxier.

The camera has a resolution of 8 megapixels and is capable of capturing some decent pictures. It does fine outdoors but it’s not that great indoors. Indoors it uses very slow shutter speeds so pictures have a tendency to be blurred. I’ve noticed this problem on pretty much every single Sony Ericsson phone I have ever used. It really needs its flash indoors but I noticed that you have to access the menu if you want to use the flash as opposed to just pressing a flash button on the screen. And when you want to use it you basically leave it on or off all the time so it’s kind of annoying. It would be nice if the X10 could decide when the light is need and when it’s not.

In camera mode the display has icons for resolution, scene ,modes and whether you want to touch the screen to trip the shutter. You can toggle between photo or video mode plus there are thumbnails of recently taken photos/videos. There’s also EV compensation. I wish there were more icons because there’s a lot of room on the sides of the display for things like flash control, self timer, etc. My guess is this camera program is also meant for lower end Sony Ericsson Android powered phones with 480×320 displays (that’s just my speculation). so they can’t cram too many icons in there.

Video can can be captured at 800×480. I found video quality isn’t terrible but there seems to be too many compression artifacts. I also found the microphone picks up a lot of handling noise (noise your fingers make when they move against the phone). There is image stabilization but the catch is that IS doesn’t work in the highest video mode. I don’t know about you but when I’m taking video I prefer to capture it in the highest quality and then shrink it if I’m going to send it. I do understand that the X10 doesn’t have optical IS and that digital IS degrades quality a little but still…

As far as call handling goes the X10 I’m not sure if the X10 has a presence sensor because it doesn’t shut the screen off when you put it to your face (at least not for a while). However, once the screen is off it seems to know when I’ve moved it away from my face because the screen turns back on (I’m guessing it’s using the accelerometer to sense when you move it away). Anyways this is really annoying if you’re using the dial pad since you can accidentally dial numbers when you put it to your face. Anyways I was annoyed when I had to use the dial pad. Of course if you’re using a headset then you don’t really need to worry about this.

I compared the X10′s RF performance to the Motorola Milestone. I found the Milestone cut in and out less in areas with low signal.

Compared to the Milestone the X10 sounds more natural but has noticeably more hiss.

Battery life

Conclusion:

Sony Ericsson likes to point out that they won’t design a plain jane Android phone. This isn’t a bad thing but it means the X10 only ships with Android 1.6 (Milestone has 2.0, Nexus One has 2.1) since apparently Timescape and Mediascape aren’t compatible with newer versions (or so SE have told me) which makes the X10 kind of dated compared to the existing completion. That said both Timescape and Mediascape are pretty useful applications. Timescape especially is a really convenient and a big time saver. Indeed if you like them than go out and buy an X10.

I was surprised that the X10 has is no multitouch support – the Milestone has it, the Google Nexus one has it, the X10 which launched after them doesn’t. There’s also no presence sensor so the screen doesn’t shut off when you hold it to your face (Though it will time out eventually). The fact that the buttons don’t light up is also pretty cheesy.

Other thoughts; the 4″ LCD is nice and it works in sunlight. That said I’d rather have an OLED display. The 8 megapixel camera doesn’t have the greatest camera software. It’s not efficient to use and video looks very compressed.

In the end I liked the X10 and am happy Sony Ericsson managed to launch it on time but I thought it looked better on paper.

Howard Chui
04.17.2010

Entry Filed under: Phones,Sony Ericsson

3 Comments Add your own

    gusto5  |  April 19th, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Here’s to hoping their 2.1 rollout isn’t as painstakingly long as Samsung Galaxy Spica’s

    Tri3Dent  |  April 24th, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    The ‘presence’ sensor does work. It doesn’t turn off right away but when you put your phone to your ear, the screen ‘locks’ but still displays the screen. You can try it by using your hand to cover the ear part and then try to press the dialpad. It won’t work cuz it senses something.

    Sony Erricsson X10 –&hellip  |  May 9th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    [...] Sony Erricsson X10 – Review Posted: 10th May 2010 by Ansar in Uncategorized 0 tweetcount_url='http://www.infoobserver.com/?p=366';tweetcount_title='Sony Erricsson X10 – Review';tweetcount_cnt=0;Sony Ericsson X10 Review [...]

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