Last week, Rogers Wireless was the first carrier in North America to launch the new Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Android based smartphone. The wordwide launch was a couple days earlier with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo. The Xperia X10 has been getting a lot of attention around the net for its large display and ultra thin design. I had a chance to play with one at the launch event here in Canada, and then again when a friend picked one up the day it became available from Rogers. The X10 can be purchased for $550 directly from Rogers without a contract, or $150 with a 3 year contract.
I’ll start by going over some of the goodness that this phone brings to the table. First and foremost is the large 4 inch screen. HTC managed to make the HD2’s 4.3 inch screen reach extremely close to the edge of the phone. Sony Ericsson tried as well, but didn’t end up getting as edge to edge as HTC was able to. Regardless, the phone really feels like it’s all screen when you’re holding it.
At the launch, I felt that Sony Ericsson’s TimeScape application was putting some strain on the 1GHz SnapDragon processor. The tiles didn’t fly in as smoothly as I would have expected. However, after playing with the release version, this has not been the case. Perhaps the devices at launch weren’t the final ROM build, or maybe it was the poor lighting in the venue. Flipping around TimeScape has been very snappy in the final shipping version. I also found the navigating the device is incredibly fast. The Xperia X10 is the fastest device that I’ve ever had the chance to use – menu’s fly open with ease and applications pop open as if they were just waiting for you to call upon them. Yes, that does sound a little cheesy, but it’s true.
Across the top of the device you’ll find the power button on the left, a 3.5mm headphone jack in the middle, and a MiniUSB charge port on the right under a rather large plastic flap. I’m not a fan of those plastic flaps as they always tend to break too easily. I’m not sure why Sony Ericsson decided to use the MiniUSB and not the MicroUSB that the entire mobile industry has standardized on – including Sony Ericsson themselves.
On the bottom center of the device you’ll find a lanyard loop for hanging those special charms from. Towards the top on the back of the device you will find the 8.1 megapixel camera with a LED flash mounted just below it. Symmetrically this looks really nice. But realistically, I think it would have been better to have the flash above or to the side of the camera. If you think about how you hold the phone while using the camera, there’s a good chance that your fingers will get in the way of that flash.
The battery door is one snug fit. It will take a little effort, but all you need to do is pry it open with your fingernail at the bottom and then gently pull it open. It opens in much the same way as the HTC Hero, but requires a little more force.
Overall the device feels good in your hand. It’s thin and the rounded edges help the large device to fit snug into pockets. The phone does have a plastic feel to it. While that’s somewhat expected with today’s phones, the X10 has a cheap or thin plastic feel on certain parts like the battery door. It doesn’t take away from the look or function of the device in anyway. It just would be nicer if they could have managed to up the quality of the plastic used.
The X10 is almost an exact match in size compared to HTC’s HD2 smartphone. While the HD2 has a larger 4.3 inch screen, these two devices match up on almost every other physical feature.
Inside the device you’ll find Google’s Android v1.6. We were more than a little surprised to see that, and asked the Sony Ericsson reps at the launch party why it was 1.6 and not 2.0 or 2.1. No reason was given for the choice, however they did promise that Android 2.1 would be released for the Xperia X10 in the fall. The good news is that you will be able to upgrade the device to today’s version of Android. There’s no telling what version Google will be on when 2.1 is actually released for the X10. My guess is that it will be 3 versions behind. I hope it’s not the case, but…
The other thing that appears to be a real serious issue with the X10 is its battery life. On a fully charged battery, the device has a hard time making it through the night. That’s bad! Initial reports are saying that you need to fully cycle the battery 4-6 times and then the battery life will improve. If that’s true, it’s great news. But it seems a little like wishful thinking to me. I can’t see it going from 6 hours of standby to lasting a full day with usage. Even if the battery managed to get a little better, you’re not going to magically make it through a day’s worth of light use.
Overall, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 is a great Android device, it’s powerful with a beautiful screen. However Sony Ericsson needs to step up and solve the battery issues that are being reported across the internet, and they need to get moving on the update to Android 2.1. If those two issues can get resolved, then this will be an amazing device.