Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

After so much hype, the X10 is just short of what we had hoped for. Mediascape is great, but Timescape needs tweaking to improve performance and the overall user experience.


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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


After what seems like an eternity, the wait for the X10 is over. After leaks, and more leaks, beginning just short of a year ago, the X10 will finally be in the hot little hands of those who have waited so patiently. To be honest, we don't remember the last time a Sony Ericsson phone generated this much interest. Oh wait, actually we do, the original Xperia X1 had a year of hype behind it too, and it didn't end so well. Will Sony Ericsson's luck change for its first Android?

Big, beautiful, kinda touchy

Let's begin with the obvious, the X10 is a monster. Its 4-inch display even manages to make the HTC HD2 seem, well, regular in size somehow. Our review model is in lustrous black, and with its stainless trim and glossy display it looks and feels like a polished piece of obsidian as it slides in and out of a pocket. The back of the X10, the battery cover, is made from soft-touch plastic, and is emblazoned with a Sony Ericsson badge and the X10's 8-megapixel camera lens.

The 4-inch display, with its 800x480 WVGA resolution looks great, especially when showing off Sony Ericsson's Timescape and Mediascape 3D-animated applications. Unfortunately, the screen's touch sensitivity doesn't live up to its size or clarity. Typing with the on-screen keyboard requires more patience and accuracy than compared with the iPhone or HTC Desire, as each keystroke has to be deliberate and reasonably slow or else letters in the words you type will be overlooked. We also found problems making selections around the edge of the screen where dragging down the Android notifications bar by mistake is a tiresome regularity. Scrolling can also be a bit tricky, with the X10 selecting an app or contact during a swiping motion.

Timescape - waste of time?

We positively drooled when we first saw the Timescape UI on YouTube — we actually dribbled a pool of saliva in our laps. For those who haven't seen Timescape, it is a stand-alone app that aggregates all of your recent call logs, SMS messages, email and photos, and adds two of our favourite social-networking tools into the mix, with dedicated "splines" for Twitter and Facebook. The result is columns of transparent 3D cards showing contact names and a nubbin of their message to you. Timescape can even be set as a total home screen takeover or a 2x2 home screen widget displaying the most recent entry.

This sounds like a great idea, and for some people this will be extremely useful we expect, but for us it was a clumsy, resource-hungry mess of data that is much better organised by dozens of free apps available on the Android Market. The 3D graphics are amongst the sexiest we've seen on a phone, but the X10's hardware struggles to render the cards efficiently, especially when it has to pull down dozens of Facebook and Twitter user profile pictures. It will work better if you restrict the "splines" to show local updates minus Facebook and Twitter, but then that defeats the purpose of Timescape altogether, doesn't it?

Timescape

Timescape: add a busy Twitter feed and things get messy.
(Credit: Sony Ericsson)

Mediascape is Sony Ericsson's take on a media player for Android, and it is much better. Compared to all previous media-playing apps on Android, Mediascape stands head and shoulders above the rest for its excellent looks and advanced functionality. Not only does Mediascape organise your music, videos, photos, etc in a clean and easy-to-read interface, but it will also search the web and pull in YouTube videos showing the bands in your playlist. While the X10 doesn't ship with more than 512MB of internal memory, Sony Ericsson does slip an 8GB microSDHC card into the box with the handset.

Where the X10 shines

So Timescape is a dud, but while this may seem like a major selling point of the X10, it really is only a single element of an otherwise sold smartphone package — an element you can easily switch off if you agree with our assessment. Without it you have a phone with an enormous screen, an excellent Webkit web browser, full connectivity options and a decent-enough 8-megapixel camera.

The web browsing experience is the real standout for us, though the stock browser isn't any different to the one you'll find on any other phone running Android version 1.6, like the HTC Hero for example. But in combination with the 4-inch display you have a little more screen real estate to help read desktop-sized websites with ease.

The 8-megapixel camera and flash combination does a decent job of capturing your travels, though the overall image quality doesn't warrant us making any outrageously enthusiastic claims of brilliance. The camera software has a few nice touches above and beyond the standard settings, including face detection focus mode and the ability to tag photos you've taken with contacts from your address book, letting you build walls of photos for each of your friends Facebook-style.

Mediascape

Mediascape does a good job of organising your media.
(Credit: Sony Ericsson)

Performance

Timescape isn't the only area that taxes the X10's seemingly capable hardware combination of a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 384MB of RAM. Basic tasks struggled too, like the animated arrow you drag to unlock the phone in standby mode. Most menu navigation is fine, the X10 features three customisable home screens and swiping between the three is usually smooth, so too is browsing through the list of your installed apps, but other tasks like opening the Dialler or entering the Message after you receive an SMS can take several seconds before they are usable. This may be because both apps are connected to the Timescape app, and if this is true then it is another cross against this sluggish tool.

Other elements of the phone work as expected; call quality is good, the web browser is great, notifications come through regularly and Google services, like maps and mail are first rate. It's also worth noting that people requiring MS Exchange support for business email can do so using a third-party app called Moxier, which could be pre-installed with the phone (unless your carrier decides to remove it for one reason or another).

As with all Android phones, battery life is either a pass or fail depending on how you manage it. Heavy usage with constant web access only delivered about a working day's worth of charge, but this can easily be extended with a little common sense and an app download or two. By tweaking our screen brightness and riding the controls for mobile data, Wi-Fi and location services we managed to include another half a day.

Overall

If you thought all Androids were created equal you'd be wrong; various manufacturers are working with Android, delivering innovation in both hardware and software to sweeten the deal of Google's excellent smartphone platform. Sony Ericsson's X10 is about halfway right, its design is sleek and sexy, and the 4-inch display feels big in a good way. Likewise, Mediascape is an excellent addition, giving an Android phone a standout media experience for the first time. But the parts of this phone that struggle tend to impede on the basic day-to-day user experience, which is never a good thing. The touchscreen can be temperamental, the resource-sucking Timescape software that we ended up deleting from the home screen towards the end of our review process, and the lag into some key apps like messaging really dampen the experience.

Some people may also gripe about the use of the older Android version 1.6, but to be honest this didn't phase us too much. After spending time with the HTC Desire recently we couldn't easily identify a feature we missed when using the X10 (besides Live Wallpapers perhaps), though this earlier version of Android may have contributed to the inconsistent performance we experienced. All in all, the Xperia X10 is a good smartphone, but falls short of being be an outstanding one.

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JoelW1 Facebook
2
Rating
 

"awful phone"

JoelW1 posted a review   

The Good:camera is aright

The Bad:almost everything

i have the phone cant wait to upgrade to an iphone because this phone is crap

 

Karen LeeC posted a comment   

I will never buy another Sony phone, had it 18 mths , sent away twice , turns itself on and off constantly, drops out of connection constantly, won't always download pics from txt msgs.
Im with Optus and they also have been useless with upgrading me with a new phone , or cancelling my contract, it's a nightmare.
You would think if sony have stuffed up with a dud product they would let you know , oh no just take our money just like Optus.

miss mod
1
Rating
 

"Wost. Phone. Ever."

miss mod posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Nothing.

The Bad:Wont last long, short battery life, screen will turn on and change setting around if in your bag or even if its in your had, lack of sensitivity means keyboard doesn't work very well. Will conveniently die just as the warranty runs out. Can only update on windows.

This is the worst phone I have ever had. From the moment I got it I had issues until 14months later when it turned itself off, flashed red and died...2months out of warranty.
Probably the biggest problem I had apart from it spontaneously changing the settings around, deleting icons and adding multiple ones when it unlocked itself in my bag or in my hand! Was that the 'hang up' button when people call was just where my cheek was, so if I held the phone to my ear and it touched my cheek, it would result in my hanging up on the caller.
I didn't find Timescape useful, I stopped using it after a few weeks, its just as easy to use the browser to go onto facebook and twitter.
The Camera is rather difficult and the 8mega pixels it claims it has still resulted in fuzzy pictures on a bigger screen.
The only thing I liked was the shape, size and the plastic screen. I dropped it a few times and it didn't shatter. woot.
I'll just add that i can't get this phone fixed (nor am I willing to pay for it), the only registered service center is miles out (and there is only one, yes ONE! in Victoria).

Better off saving up and getting an Iphone.

lassiekiz
1
Rating
 

"record worst phone ever"

lassiekiz posted a review   
Australia

The Good:nothing

The Bad:inability to work

I bought this phone yesterday- it won't turn on or charge AT ALL. i've had to take it back to the store without even once using it. it's ridiculous and disappointing.

 

JacobE posted a comment   
Australia

The Good: For Everyday use , Camera , The ease of use

The Bad:The updating service (You will have to put it in update mode yourself) , touch screen doesn't work at times , reception etc.

This phone was beautiful before the update. It didn't work after a few weeks because the Android Update failed .They sent me a new one and it still had Android 1.6, I was scared to update because I thought it will fail again. After about 5 months I updated it to the 2.3.3 , Yuck what have they done to X10 with this update. About a week ago , the X10 turned off by its self , So i tried to turn it on again the touch screen , was not working properly .So again i returned it , with a page of faults with the phone. Now , i'm missing my X10 , just wishing that it will come back soon :D

MattF3 Facebook
2
Rating
 

"worst phone i have had"

MattF3 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:still worked after tossed at wall, battery is good!

The Bad:where do i start!

well to start off timescape really really slows the phone down, timescape sucks aswell i dont see the awesomeness of it! its not fun and its boring and usless, the phones screen is terrible, when there is to much moisture in the air or on your hands the screen just wont work, when i go to touch something it thinks i taped somewhere else and starts doing that instead of what i wanted it to do! also when theres fog the phone is no use cause the screen gets moisture on it, there for wont work at all! the camera is hopless takes time taking photos longer then normal camera should and the photos are great but ill miss the thing im trying to take a picture of! when playing music its to quite even though its on full volume, ever since 2.3.3 update was installed the phones just hopless!
dont buy this phone!!

 

Guspapa posted a comment   
Other

I really need someone to help me unlock my unlock patern on my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10; it was lock by entering the wrong patern many times. but now it tells me to loggin using my gmail account which I am doing but still no better!

Frank K
9
Rating
 

"Highest performance to budget mobile"

Frank K posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Every thing

The Bad:Battery falls to 85% quickly

I switched from Sony Ericsson W810 to this mobile. Processor is 1GHz that is quicker than Nokia N8. Battery is more powerful than N8, and the alarms in the mornings always work (not like some new smart mobile phones). Android OS works well on it and it is not sluggish. 8MP Camera is one of the best I have ever seen. With manufacturer%u2019s warranty, I bought it 400$ as unlocked from Westfield, which is much cheaper than HTC desire HD and Nokia N8. Reception is nice, and the body is strong and robust.

sir peg
1
Rating
 

"xperia x10 is rubbish"

sir peg posted a review   
Australia

The Good:nothing

The Bad:everything

got 2 of these things for myself and the wife and wot a dissapointment !! battery last 8 -10 hrs, turns itself off at random, bluetooth faults, slow working, touch sensitive should i go on, took both back to the store, were sent to sony and came back as no fault detected, but phones still continue to play up, then i find out its not compatable with my new handsfree cd player in the car, i should have kept my c903 that i had for 4 years and had not 1 problem, wish i never got this phone, but now am stuck with it for the nxt 22 months, i read all the reviews and determined these phones were right for us, but typically i got the duds of the bunch

 

kaz posted a comment   

Another question for Ian and Jasc.

I have been reading through the comments on this page again and came across one that worries me. Do you need to set the phone to GSM to send texts longer than 160 character - and therefore not be able to use wifi while in this setting?


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

  • JoelW1

    JoelW1

    Rating2

    "i have the phone cant wait to upgrade to an iphone because this phone is crap"

  • Karen LeeC

    Karen LeeC

    "I will never buy another Sony phone, had it 18 mths , sent away twice , turns itself on and off constantly, drops out of connection constantly, won't always download pics from txt msgs.
    Im wi..."

  • miss mod

    miss mod

    Rating1

    "This is the worst phone I have ever had. From the moment I got it I had issues until 14months later when it turned itself off, flashed red and died...2months out of warranty.
    Probably the bi..."

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