Sony Ericsson’s first Android phone has been a long time coming. First spotted back in July 2009, the Xperia X10 is finally ready to bring its unique ‘Mediascape’ and ‘Timescape’ powers to the smartphone mêlée.
An early disappointment with the X10 is that it's running the old version of Android (1.6, or 'Donut'). Until an update arrives (sometime in the second half of 2010) that means the X10 misses out on interface and browser improvements, better keyboard, camera flash and built-in support for Exchange email – although the pre-loaded Moxier Mail offers this.
It’s powered by the same 1Ghz Snapdragon processor as Google's Nexus One but without the acceleration features of Android 2.0, it doesn't feel quite as snappy. And while the screen's bigger, the X10's body feels lightweight and plasticky compared to the Nexus or HTC Legend.
The 4in screen is the biggest on any Android phone – but it's plain old TFT rather than a retina-scorching AMOLED, and the 480x854 resolution is the same as the Motorola Milestone.
But where the Xperia X10 stands out is in its handling of social networking and media. Mediscape improvement on the standard Android media player, allowing quick access to music, movies and photos stored on the phone or online.
Review continues after the break…
The X10's killer feature, though, is Timescape, an animated pile of 3D tiles. Each represents a specific event from you or your friends – such as a new Tweet, Facebook update, photo or email. It's a neat trick, and useful too.
Moving between Timescape, Mediascape and your contacts is made easy by the Infinity button – a link that takes you through to a central hub page with all the information about a certain contact. It requires attention to set it up, but it's one of the more successful attempts to rationalise social networks.
The X10 ditches the standard Android browser in favour of Dolphin, which has multitouch support plus the ability to share pages over Twitter. Crucially, it also feels faster and more responsive – but it's not a Sony Ericsson exclusive and can be downloaded for any Android phone.
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Sony Ericsson has a great track record when it comes to cameras, and the X10's 8MP snapper, with its 4in screen, certainly trounces all other Android smartphones.
Among many standout features Smile Detection works well, but Face Recognition is more miss than hit. Shame there's no Xenon flash though – and the LED light doesn't work as a flash either, due to the foibles of Android 1.6.
As you'd expect, the X10 has built-in GPS and Google Maps for local search. It also has a trial version of Wisepilot pre-installed for satellite navigation. Unfortunately, you'll have to pay £60 for an annual subscription; at least until Google's free sat-nav arrives in the UK.
The X10's screen and snapper deliver the wow factor and it's a strong addition to the smartphone ranks. Google's own smartphone, the Nexus One, can't boast the same spec but it's armed with the same 1Ghz brain and a more recent version of Android – and its hardware and software works in harmony, making it the leader of the pack, for now.