Most flagship smartphones would settle for one mini-model treatment, but not the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. This Android-fuelled powerhouse has two XS versions – the touch-toting Mini and the QWERTY packing Mini Pro.
The Mini is undoubtedly the dinkiest smartphone we’ve ever seen but with only slightly larger dimensions the Mini Pro is still impressively tiny. In fact, we’re blown away something with the vital stats of a credit card, albeit with the profile of a Yorkie chocolate bar, could house a workable QWERTY keyboard.
But slide open the front – the mechanism is nicely spring loaded and the accelerometer's super quick to auto-rotate the display – and a surprisingly roomy four-line keyboard appears. The slight raised buttons are easily distinguishable, boasting an assured click and dedicated punctuation keys.
Understandably, those with large thumbs may find using the keypad a challenge but generally it proved a fine platform for speed typing.
The same goes for the capacitive touchscreen; it’s very responsive to taps and flicks with the flexible Android UI tweaked to accommodate the small screen size. Four corner icons can be customised with any main menu feature, while three sliding homescreens handle just one widget each – a clear compromise for owning this tiny handset.
Elsewhere, the main menu dutifully slides up and sideways over five panels and despite our reservation with the screen size, Sony Ericsson has done a bang-up job incorporating a touch-friendly interface and we had no problem navigating around the Android UI.
On the social
Unfortunately, there’s no space for the X10’s handy multimedia managing Mediascape, but a homescreen widget gives instant access to its social networking equivalent, Timescape.
Its stream of index-style cards collects together Facebook and Twitter missives, SMS and missed calls. It’s a convenient way to flick through new all your correspondence but to read longer messages and reply you have to tap on the panel to go online.
Review continues after the break…
Facebook and Twitter address can be linked with existing phonebook contacts to neatly gather all info under one entry. You have to search out the corresponding contact yourself so patience and time is required if you’re very popular.
Polish the Chrome
Because the X10 Mini Pro is currently only running Android 1.6 there’s no multi-touch, so zooming in and out of web pages is down to fiddly onscreen icons. The 2.55in display isn’t the best for full-fat internet surfing, but the Chrome-based web browser makes it a comfortable enough experience.
The Mini Pro’s pint-sized frame finds space for 3.5mm headphone jack on top and you’ll need to rely on a very good pair of earphones to coax a meaty sound from the limited music player. Plug them in and it becomes hugely listenable.
The onboard, autofocus-loaded 5MP camera is bereft of any compelling photo mods. But while the LED flash suffers from uneven illumination and glare in very low light it’s still a decent performer indoors.
Of course, you get easy set up and synchronisation with Google’s services, around 50,000 apps to download from Android. There’s also the third-party subs-based Wisepilot satnav software on board, though that pokey screen doesn’t lend itself to in-car action.
With its X10 Mini sibling too small to boast an onscreen QWERTY, the Mini Pro is the clearly choice for heavy texters and social networkers. Its Lilliputian proportions won’t appeal to everyone, but those looking for an ultra-compact smartphone without losing any keyboard or all round usability should look no further.