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Review: Sony Ericsson X10 Mini

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What is it?

The Xperia X10 Mini is meant to be most of the original Xperia X10, but in a significantly smaller package. So small, in fact, that most folks had a hard time believing it's actually a phone. It more closely resembles an iPod competitor than a fully-featured phone.

It is a phone, though, and it runs Google's Android mobile operating system - albeit a version customised for its smaller screen.

Does it work?

The X10 Mini will take your calls, send text messages, browse the Web and play your media. It did most of the things I asked of it, but I never quite felt at ease with it. Perhaps it was the smaller, low-resolution screen. Most modern mobiles have excellent high-density displays, capable of making all your photos and Web pages look great. The X10 Mini has a screen that looks old and grainy. It definitely doesn't flatter the operating system's pretty buttons.

Speaking of buttons: the big-brother X10, with its larger screen, gets a lovely on-screen QWERTY keyboard. Mini-me, over here, has to make do with a rather weird on-screen keypad. You know, the kind that has “ABC” on the 2, “DEF” on the 3 and so on. Okay, there is Sony Ericsson's excellent predictive text system, but this now has to be navigated using a series of convoluted keypre... sorry, touch screen gestures. Previous experience with this T9 predictive text has shown it to be most effective when tied to a hardware button for scrolling through words.

And that's just one of the area in which the X10 Mini feels incomplete. It literally is half the phone the bigger X10 is, both in software and hardware.

It feels too dainty and too small. The bigger phone lacks a few of the software features this model has, but Android phones have access to a ton of apps from the Android Marketplace - the proper X10 can run all of those while the Mini will not have access to certain apps due to its smaller screen.

Where it manages to impress is through the really responsive touch screen - it's just as good as that on the iPhone. It has smartphone essentials like Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth, too. The five-megapixel camera is average, though, and the eight-megapixel snapper on the other X10 is better in every way.

Should I buy it?

It's hard to recommend the X10 Mini when there it has a stablemate that does everything better. The big drawcard here is its ridiculously compact design, but even that is rendered moot when you consider it's supposed to be a smartphone. As that, it falls short of what I think a smartphone should be. It's all right as a phone, but using it for all those other “smart” features is just too frustrating.

In summary

Good: Well equipped; great touch screen
Bad: Just too compact; frustrating interface; only Android 1.6
Rating: 6/10
Price: On contract
Contact: http://www.sonyericsson.co.za
Dimensions: 83 x 50 x 16mm
Weight: 88g
Screen resolution: 240 x 320
Camera: 5-megapixel, LED flash
Operating system: Android 1.6
Storage: 128MB built-in, microSD slot
Other: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

See also