Remember your first crush in school? You thought she was the one for you the moment you saw her. Your heart skipped a beat, there were butterflies in your tummy and you couldn't stop smiling. Well, our reaction wasn't very different when we first laid our hands on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. And it just got better from there.
There aren't many phones that come close to the iPhone when it comes to user interface and touch sensitivity. We've had comparisons with the likes of the Motorola Milestone, HTC Legend and Nexus One, and now it's Sony Ericsson turning up the heat with its latest, the sexy Xperia X10.
With an impressive 4-inch WVGA touch screen, the handset beats the iPhone at least when it comes to screen dimensions and display. The bright screen doesn't disappoint even under direct sunlight.
Sony Ericsson claims that the screen surface is scratch-resistant but the unit already had a couple of them marring the beauty of the otherwise stunning handset.
The capacitive touch screen is pleasantly responsive; a light touch is all it takes to carry out a function or type an alphabet. Texting is made easy with options of the Android keyboard and the standard keyboard layout to choose from.
While typing in ‘portrait' mode of the X10 might feel slightly cramped, typing in the landscape mode is a delight especially for SMS or IM-addicts.
Below the screen are three sleek buttons designed to perform a multitude of operations.
The one on the right is the ‘Return/Back' button and the one in the middle takes you to the home screen or Timescape as per your preference. The button on the left pops up app-specific menus while you are using a certain application or feature in the phone.
The Power button is on the top panel; a slight press locks the phone and another prompts you to unlock the Home screen with a stylish angular swipe of the finger.
The phone has a 3.5mm audio jack, as well as a micro USB connector. You can transfer data as well as charge the phone through the USB slot.
On top of the screen is a slim panel displayed permanently - showing the time, signal strength and battery. It also gives you updates about new texts, IMs, calls etc. A LED indicator on the top panel of the handset flashes green when there is a new text or missed call and flashes red when the phone is low on power. The phone will also automatically pop up an alert telling you that the battery is at 15 per cent or lower charge, prompting you to plug in the charger.
Timescape is a feature that'll appeal to the ‘virtual social butterflies'. It displays updates from Facebook and Twitter when these accounts are logged into, as well as the recent history of your messages, call log, emails, photos and music. The updates appear as stacked screen shots, which you can browse by simply swiping your finger upwards.
Another interesting feature, Mediascape, integrates all the multimedia you have on your phone and displays it on one handy screen. It includes all the music and videos you have played as well as the photos you have taken. It gives you the option to add web photos and displays media that has been recently played or recently added. You can also choose and save your favourite videos, music or the best photographs in a separate category within Mediascape.
The Xperia X10 gives you the option of setting Timescape as your main home screen or opting for the Android one. The Android home screen shows you Mediascape, Timescape, Dialer and Messaging icons on the bottom by default and has three customisable home screens. You can customise shortcuts to apps to be on screen for an easy one-touch access. We had Facebook, Google Talk and Gmail on our test unit.
There is an arrow discretely tucked away at the bottom of every home screen, and swiping upwards will bring up the menu screen, which you can scroll through with ease. The touch interface works beautifully here, and we didn't end up activating any icons when scrolling. There is an icon to take you to practically any function of the phone, whether using one of the pre-installed features such as calendar and alarm or using any of the games and apps you have downloaded from the Android market.
If you swipe your finger to the left, a second home screen slides in, giving you options to turn on the Bluetooth, switch over to the Flight mode and so on. There is also a quick search bar powered by Google on top that will not only display search results of your phone (For example typing ‘Ma' will show up Maps, Marketplace and any contacts that begin with the two letters – such as ‘Mark') but also search results of the term on the web.
Swiping to the right will bring up a screen that displays screen shots of your most visited sites as well as your browsing history, so it functions like a handy bookmarks tab.
Based on a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, the Xperia X10 does not disappoint when it comes to performance. The phone managed to open and run apps with ease.
It also manages to deliver an excellent browsing experience. You don't have to wait for ages for a website to load and in case you wanted a couple of them open you could easily switch from one to another via a screen where multiple windows are displayed.
Text messages on the phone were threaded as posts so we could easily keep track of conversations. The Contacts screen too was easy to scroll through, thanks to the responsive accelerometer. If you don't want to scroll, you have the option of selecting your contacts by touching the alphabet from the list on the right.
We were very impressed with the 8.1-meg camera, which offers up to 16x zoom. Portraits came out quite well when shot indoors and the camera seemed to adjust brilliantly according to the ambient light. Some images very slightly grainy when shot in low light, but that's to be expected with almost all phone cameras with ultra-small lenses and the Xperia X10 performs better than its peers even in this department.
The touch screen allows you to ‘Touch focus' on your subjects while you are getting ready to capture them. The camera also allows for geo-tagging, face and smile detection. Once you capture an image, you can choose to upload directly to Facebook, Gmail, Picasa or Moxier mail.
The pictures are all stored in Mediascape where they are sorted according to which ones were ‘Recently taken' or ‘Recently viewed'.
The X10 comes with Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube, Facebook and the Moxier suite of applications that include Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Tasks and Sync.
It connects and loads Gmail, Google Talk and Facebook effortlessly. Syncing the phone too was a breeze. Connect the handset to your PC or laptop and a small notification icon appears on the slim top panel on the screen. Swipe down on the icon and it gives you the option to connect the USB and transfer files to your computer.
The call quality was about average, we could hear the other person in noisy and crowded areas. However, we found that call quality tended to fluctuate a bit, although this could be attributed to signal strength of the service provider.
Although it doesn't exactly disappoint when it comes to basic functions, the Android 1.6 platform that is being used by the Xperia X10 is now ‘outdated'. Rumour mills are going gaga over the latest Android Froyo (Ver 2.2) and a host of phones already work on Android Eclair.
The handset has an accelerometer sensor to switch the display modes to landscape and portrait when you rotate it. While most times it worked smoothly (though not without blurring the screen for a second or two), it sometimes failed to switch into the landscape mode. We also found that there was a slight delay when it came to displaying photos from Mediascape.
The company has put in a 1500 mAh battery but it lasts just for about one full day albeit with Timescape being updated once every 2-3 hours. The battery lasted much longer (almost three days) when the apps weren't running throughout the day, and with just a few hours of talk time and browsing being clocked. Sony Ericsson also gives you the option of carrying an extra battery, but this was not included with the unit we got for review.
With the positives outweighing the negatives, the Xperia is one of the best handsets from the Sony Ericsson camp. Definitely a catch for someone looking to make an impression.
Love: Superior touch interface, Timescape
Hate: Screen gets smudged easily, old Android OS
Price: Rs 35,795