The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro is a big name for a diddy smartphone. It’s not a whole lot different to the X10 Mini we reviewed before Christmas but the key difference here is the sliding QWERTY keyboard.
The shape and size of the phone makes it attractive to those wanting a small and non-geeky phone which is excellent at messaging, Texting, Tweeting and updating your Facebook status is a whole lot easier thanks to the keyboard and I have to say it’s properly easy to type on despite the size.
2.55″ capacitive screen (240×320 QVGA)
5 megapixel auto-focus camera with flash
FM radio with RDS
3.55mm audio jack
Up front there’s just three buttons. The one on the left is the menu button which let’s you change the wallpaper on the home screen or open up settings within apps etc. The centre square is the home key and takes you back to the main screen and that left arrow key takes you “back” to the previous screen or app you were looking at.
Up top and in the black plastic frontage is the earpiece. It looks like someone has just stuck their nail in the top of the phone.
Down the right you’ll notice the curved rear of the phone in this profile shot. The rear section has a slight rubbery feel to it and houses the camera etc. However, we’re looking here at the volume up / down key and the camera button which you can press and hold to get into the camera application.
On the rear you can see the camera and flash. There’s no second glass cover on the lens so it should mean clear shots. Below you can see the external speaker. I’ve got to say that it’s very loud and produces good, deep tones. The rear panel of the handset has a soft rubber feel to it, a little like an anti-slip matt.
The left side has the microUSB port. Connect this to your laptop or PC for transferring files – you simply switch to “mass storage mode” to do that.
At the bottom there’s a lanyard loop and the microphone.
As we slide the keyboard open you can see that the majority of the phones’ “bulk” is attached to the keyboard, but it’s still a very lightweight and petite device. The keys are very well spaced and sit on a silver panel. Those keys are raised and easy to locate. It’s fantastic to type on.
The UI is very similar to the keyboard-less Sony Ericson Xperia Mini. You can’t quite have the same level of functionality as a “normal sized” Android handset. A widget on the homescreen will take up pretty much all of the homescreen, so you’ll find yourself adding one per panel. You can slide from side to side on the main screen with four panels to select from. Each corner has a dedicated function – press the top left and get into messaging easily, press the top right corner and get the music app. The lower left corner will get you into the phones dialer and the lower right will open up the contacts system. It’s all designed to make things easy and quick to use despite the restricted screen size, which is good.
Here’s the main screen – swipe to the right to unlock the phone. On the right I’m adding a widget.
Slide up and you’ll get into all your apps – out of the box you get to then slide left and right between five more screens containing the the apps below, plus a few we’ve added ourselves for good measure.
The internet browser, considering the size of the screen, is good. It’s great to have that slide-out keyboard for entering longer URL’s though. The keyboard is also really beneficial when texting, tweeting or updating Facebook. It can take a little getting used to, especially if you’ve used another QWERTY phone in the past, but it’s extremely usable despite the size.
If you do get lazy, and I mean super-lazy, you can always use the on-screen keyboard if the QWERTY isn’t your thing. It’s the tried-and-tested T9 entry system which you can switch across to the ABC entry system if you wish.
The browser isn’t multi-touch but it renders sites very well indeed. You can zoom in, share a page via mail, Twitter, text or add the page as a bookmark. Double-tap to zoom in and make those paragraphs wrap around to fit nicely on the screen.
The camera is pretty decent and again the familiar “corner controls” are there to let you switch the flash on and off or change to video mode. Some example shots can be seen below and, I have to say, I was greatly impressed by the results. There’s an album feature which lets you jet through your shots and videos too.
Here’s some example shots from the camera. The shots are good. Here you can see the flash shots and the non-flash shots. Even in low-light situations with the flash off the shots come out well. A good performance for such a tiny device.
The Xperia Mini Pro also has access to email and you can add every account out there. Google Mail is obviously there too. Android Market gives you access to a range of applications but, with the screen being a little smaller than the “norm” you may find that some apps aren’t available.
The screen-switch is quick and, with on-line sync’ing via the Google Cloud you can add your calendar and contacts in safe in the knowledge that it’ll all be available online and available off your phone.
We’ve been around for long enough to know how good the YouTube app is (brilliant, and is very smooth), the Google Maps app is (again, fantastic, with free navigation, Street View and more) and Google Voice Search. It may be small, but this is a perfectly capable device.
This is a smartphone which will fit in that special little pocket in your jeans. It ticks the “small but useful” box but that GUI may not be to everyones’ tastes. I hate to say it, but if HTC made a phone like this then I’d probably rate it higher purely because of the more friendly and straightforward interface.
The speaker is loud and the phone can perform most of the things you see bigger devices do. It’s an excellent messaging device with a great camera and a custom-built UI which gets around the size-constraints well. If this phone was available on more networks I’ve no doubt that it would perform brilliantly. Kids, teenagers and the socially-connected generation will absolutely love this phone.