Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro

Finally I got myself the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro running on the Google Android operating system. It has been a long wait to switch over to a PDA mobile phone with almost the features that I was looking for. Although it was an improvement over my previous PDA Palm Centro phone, but there is also some limitation on some features that was available on my Palm Centro. I guess nothing is ever 100% perfect.

It took a long time for Sony Ericsson to bring it over to Malaysia. It was launched elsewhere in the world early of 2010. There were 2 press released, one in March and another June 2010. It left me waiting in anticipation till its final product launch around end of July.

After inquiring with the mobile shop about the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro, I managed to explore the Xperia and decided this model looks like it was sufficient for my needs. It has what I wanted, a good, easy to use QWERTY keyboard and the price was reasonable too. I have scoured a long time for an Android phone that has a good proper QWERTY keyboard; HTC didn’t have one for the Android platform while the Motorola Milestone keyboard was too flat and not easy to type for a long drawn out typing session.

So I decided to get the Xperia X10 Mini Pro despite it having Android version 1.6. I later learned that the Android version 2.1 would be released later in Q4 2010 and to upgrade it I will have to send it to Sony service centre for the upgrade. I would lose all data stored since then, but I should be alright if I manage to back up all my contacts data.

Now having used it for more than a week, I found there are good advantages and also drawbacks with this version of Android in the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro. So here’s the lowdown.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 side by side with my T700 and Palm Centro

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro Review

The size is really handy, just slightly smaller than my Palm Centro and feels more like a mobile phone than an all purpose PDA device. In fact the Xperia X10 Mini is the smallest Android phone around. My X10 Mini Pro is only slight thicker than the X10 Mini due to the slide out QWERTY keyboard.

No stylus is provided, same as all the new touch screen PDA phones, so like one other reviewer said, tapping on the screen is no easy task and easy to make mistakes. Likewise with the Xperia X10 especially with the small screen it is even easier to make mistake. The touchscreen is very sensitive so if you don’t switch off the screen it is very easy to accidentally tap any of the short cuts located at the four corners of the screen and launch your application.

Using the QWERTY keyboard is much better than the virtual keyboard. Due to the small screen asset, the X10 do not come with a full virtual QWERTY keyboard. If you still need one you could download other alternative app like SwiftKey (which at this moment is still in Beta but worked fairly well). I liked the QWERTY keyboard having tested the Motorola Milestone, this is way much better. Evenly spaced out for quick typing with your thumbs. However you do need to keep your fingernail short as I found out that long fingernail gets in the way of typing unlike my Palm Centro which actually requires long fingernail for accurate typing!

The input screen for text message still needs improvement though. Much of the screen display is wasted displaying your recipient and other language options. Can hardly read the previous chat messages and the input block is also rather small. For a guy with presbyopia setting in the small fonts leaves much to be desired and no way to change the font size is a minus.

Hopefully Google will come up with improvement to the core Android platform and hopefully the version 2.1 that will be released by Sony Ericsson will address this issue, otherwise I just have to squint through all those messages!

The Sony Xperia X10 Mini Pro CPU processors runs pretty speedily on a ARMv6 rev 5 processor at 600Mhz. A build in ROM memory of 212MB and RAM of 165MB (information as show by the Android System Info App), comes with a 2GB SD Card (yey, finally Sony uses something that is generally available then their own expensive and not popular proprietary Sony M2 memory cards). A 2.55″ screen size with 240 x 320 QVGA pixels TFT scratch resistant screen (but I would still place a screen protector despite the scratch resistance for double protection).

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 side view comparison

Information Organizers

The Sync with Microsoft Outlook is not available for this Android version 1.6 so hopefully when version 2.1 is released this issue would be addressed. Sure would like to sync up my Outlook contacts. For now I just export my Outlook contact database to my Gmail account and sync back with Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 phone contact. In fact after trying this for awhile, I find this syncing of Gmail contact with the Android contact pretty good. Now all I need is to find a way to sync up Outlook with Gmail and this would be perfect!

As for Outlook calendar appointments, I use a nifty little software called Google Calendar Sync. This software is rather old and the developer has not been updating it. But I find it still does the job quite well. And so my Outlook Calendar could now sync with Google Calendar and from there sync back with Android on my Xperia X10.

You would notice that all the syncing about is done wirelessly. Unlike previous PDA like my Palm Centro or Windows Mobile where synchronization is done with a cable, Android is done via WIFI or 3G/GPRS/EDGE. In fact you will use a lot of internet connection so it would be prudent to have WIFI connection or a good data plan from your mobile telco providers else you may churn up a high phone bill!

See more on Synchronize Outlook with Gmail contacts

Data Plan Required

So here is something you need to do if you are like me who don’t have an unlimited data plan, do disable the Data Traffic when you are not in range of any WIFI hotspot or doing any data exchanges. Or else be prepared for phone bill bomb at the end of your billing cycle! Note that in order to receive or send your MMS message you will have to enable it again. This may seem troublesome but this is what you need to do if you don’t have an unlimited data plan.

The Android platform is meant for you to be always connected with all your online services. Not only with Google services like Gmail, Google Chat but also with Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, You Tube, Flickr, etc.

If you need to be always connected with such services wherever you may be, then go get yourself an unlimited data plan. Otherwise connect only when you find suitable WIFI hotspot.

Battery Power Needed

This brings the contentious issue of battery power. Without any power, that’s the end of your constant connection. And boy does the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 a huge power drain! For a small ciku size device like this, I find I couldn’t get it to last for more than a day. With the WIFI on whole day in my office, and making occasional calls, typing SMS and some simple blogging, snapping an occasional photo, by the end of the day the battery show a 20% to 15% charge. If I make a long conversation, I doubt it will last that long before the day is over. On the brochure it says standby time of up to 285 hours, which is pretty doubtful. More likely 48 hours if I shut off the WIFI and other data services.

GPS and directional finder

It seems this is a standard for all Android devices, and this is no different. Used in conjunction with Google Map you can pinpoint your location, and if you get the license for Gamin directional navigator you just about go anywhere. I’m still pretty much old school so I just stick to printing out maps and navigate on my own.

The internal sensor are rather accurate, and I showed the compass app and GPS app to my brother and he was pleasantly surprise that it worked, and very accurately too. It is able to measure the speed you are going such as when you are in the car and has an altimeter too. To get the info from such app you need to download the appropriate software from the Android market. And as such…

Android Apps

Android Market

This is possibly what makes Android phone so much more versatile than say Apple iPhone and especially Microsoft Windows Mobile, Nokia Symbian and RIM Blackberry. Sure Apple iPhone has their app store, but those software aren’t free. And so Android surpasses that with many very useful 3rd party apps that range from entertaining (and sometimes useless but interesting) to very useful.

By downloading software from the Android Market, I could improve the usefulness of my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro with better contacts management, better social website application, utilities to make your Android phone run better as well as handy utilities like Torch, Compass, GPS apps, even a smart measuring ruler! I even found guitar string tuner software to tune my guitar. And hey it works well too!

And for those who still have some nostalgic feeling for that old Palm device which you are using less, and less and keeping it alive but not really using (well that’s what my Palm Tungsten T3 is now like anyway), you could download the Palm Graffiti input for your Android! Haha, it works too but took up half of my Xperia X10 screen display for the input. Too bad they don’t have Graffiti 2, which I much prefer over Graffiti 1. Anyway just using that old Palm input for fun. I would still be relying on the QWERTY keyboard for any extended long winded messaging.

See My Best Free Android Apps List

Where I got my Android phone and pricing

When I first check out the Xperia X10 model at Digital Mall Section 14 Petaling Jaya, it was very expensive at RM1299 cash price (credit cards incurs additional 2.5% charge). So I went to Atlantis Communication in SS2, Petaling Jaya and got mine at RM1100 cash price. One of my friends said you can get it for RM1050 in Low Yat Plaza but which shop she didn’t say. She got her Xperia X10 Mini (no keyboard version) for RM900 cash price of course.

Overall

Having owned the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro Android phone, I would say the Xperia is not too bad because of its small size, but the small size is also its disadvantage as it meant less display area or squeezing the font size smaller to show the same amount of info as the other bigger screen brethren.

Some pros

  • Small handy size
  • QWERTY keyboard easy to type
  • Loud ring tone
  • Very sensitive touch screen
  • Nice price range for an Android phone
  • Pretty fast response
  • Good syncing with Gmail contacts and calendar
  • Many free and useful apps in the Android Market

Some cons

  • The small handy size meant that fonts are either squished smaller or less display available
  • Inherent Android inability for font sizes selection
  • Battery not lasting
  • Must note to switch off background data if you don’t have unlimited data plan

Related Posts:
HTC Cha Cha Review
HTC Wildfire Review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro
Sony Ericsson Xperia X8
Palm Centro Smart Phone
Palm Pre – having a pre-look at it
Replacing the Palm Tungsten T3 battery
Nokia E66 Mobile Phone Review
Sony Ericsson T-700 Mobile Phone Review

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Comments

Hello Jan – I have the xperia mobile and love it…I was reading through your info on this phone – is there anyway that a picture can be saved on this phone if someone ( a friend ) has sent it to my phone as a mms. The only options it seems to come up with is forward to someone else,or save pic as contact photo for that person….im trying to think how i can save it to my computer without losing it…as soon as i deleate the text message with the mms it will be lost forever from the phone….and i cant keep the text message forever !! any ideas….shame u cant save it to albulm…Louise

Louise
Horley, UK
5/12/2010

Dear Louise
Unfortunately, no. I hope the new update will solve this issue. Still waiting for it. Only other option is to forward the MMS from Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro to another phone of yours that can save the MMS picture.
Cheers!
Jan.
5/12/2010

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