The Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 is technically the very first SnapDragon+Android powered smartphone to ever hit the Philippines (the HTC Magic is the first Android and the HTC HD2 is the first SnapDragon offered in the country).
The only other handset that has a similar combo I’ve tried is the Google Nexus One (though with v2.1 Android in it). The unit comes in two variants – the white one and the black one. I bought the white one for this review.
Design and Construction
The Xperia X10 was designed with great attention to detail and though the body is constructed from some kind of polymer (read: plastic), the white glossy finish and hefty weight gives it a ceramic appeal. It’s not very slim (13mm) but the somewhat curved edges gives it a slim impression. I’m not too sure about that silver-lined accent on the sides though.
The bottom of the front-panel is lined with 3 slender buttons that’s typical for an Android handset — Home, Back and Menu/Settings. There’s a dedicated camera button on the bottom right side and the volume rocker is on top of it that also serves as zoom control in camera mode. On the top side are the power button, 3.5mm audio port and a micro-USB port for data/power connection.
Display and Touchscreen
The 4.0 inch screen of the Xperia X10 offers more real estate than the 3.7″ of the NX1 and just 0.3″ short of the HD2. The 480×854 pixel resolution gives it a crisp rendering of images and icons but is no match to the brightness and vivid colors of an AMOLED screen of the Nexus One.
Nevertheless, it’s still one of the largest screens on a handset I’ve ever used. Add to that the responsiveness of the capacitive touchscreen and you’ll forget the TFT display is only doing 65k colors.
The virtual qwerty keyboard looks standard to Android and can get a day or two to get used to if you haven’t had experience with any similar full touchscreen phones before.
TimeScape and MediaScape UI
Sony-Ericsson added their own UI layer on top of the standard Android interface. The TimeScape parades all the activity done on the phone in a single timeline presented by 3D-panels.
That allows you to see the photos, tweets, FB updates, SMS, email, call logs, etc. in a single helix-shaped column of panels. You can slide across to another icon to see just a timeline for a specific activity (e.g. Tweet-only or SMS-only).
The MediaScape, on the other hand, is somewhat similar to Windows Media Center and allows for a more fluid navigation of all music, photo and video files on the phone.
Both the TimeScape and the MediaScape UI offer a lot of eye-candy but they seem to offer little practical function but just that — eye-candy. It’s nice though that tapping into a stream allows you to either fire up the browser or select an app or client for that service (e.g. TwitDroid for the tweet stream; or for SMS, TimeScape gives you a threaded view of a conversation).
The X10 also has the default 3 sliding panels of the Android, a feature I felt important after using the Nexus One with 5 and the HTC Hero with 7 — more real estate for widgets, folders and shortcuts.
Camera & Multimedia
The 8.1 megapixel camera of the X10 takes decent to good photos but is heavily dependent on available light. The shutter speed seems to be a bit slow so photos tend to get blurry on some occasion. I took several shots using both natural and artificial lighting and got these.
Video capture didn’t impress either. But despite all that megapixel rating, the video recording is a bit underwhelming and only captures up to QVGA and WVGA. The videos are decent but it would have been nice if it can do 720p. Here’s a sample I uploaded on YouTube.
What’s missing in this department is a secondary front-facing camera for video calls and the lack of FM radio tuner. The built-in speakers is relatively weak with the audio lacking the necessary bass and makes it a bit “tinny”.
Performance and Battery Life
The Xperia X10 is among the most powerful smartphones I’ve tried, along with the NX1 and the HD2, thanks to the 1.0GHz Qualcomm SnapDragon processor running Android 1.6. Apps load up pretty quickly, even with multi-tasking or several apps running at the same time.
The 1500mAh Lithium-polymer battery seems adequate but the device can easily get drained in two days and that’s with light browsing over WiFi and 3G.
Connectivity options are in full gear with WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G and GPS. The built-in browser does a fine job rendering pages but the lack of multi-touch somewhat dampens the usability/experience.
For a 1st generation Android phone, Sony-Ericsson did a pretty good job with the Xperia X10. Even if the Rachel UI isn’t that impressive, an upgrade to Android 2.0 this May will hopefully make up for that.
The absence of an FM radio is a minor setback and once the Android 2.0 becomes available, multi-touch might be enabled on the device too (although earlier reports indicate that no multi-touch support is due to hardware issues). The retail price of Php32,500 isn’t too bad either, considering their first Xperia came out at a whooping Php42,500.