Guy Adams on Technology
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A Week On: Living with the Xperia X10

P1000186 Just over a week ago I sent the HTC Desire off to Steve ‘Chippy’ Paine and in return he sent me his Xperia X10. I’ve lived with the X10 as my main phone for the last week and wanted to post a mini review and small comparison with the HTC Desire.

Hardware

The first thing you notice with the X10 is its lighter than the HTC Desire, not by a lot but enough. This is quite surprising considering its additional 0.3 inches screen size. When you turn on the device you get the usual Sony Ericsson splash screen which really hits home the screen, its very bright and crisp and although I thought it inconceivable that an extra 0.3 inches could make difference, it really does. Accuracy to touch is as good as can be expected from a capacitive screen and scrolling is fairly smooth, no pinch to zoom web browsing or picture resizing as the device isn’t multi-touch, this stood out as I’m used to that feature on the Desire.

The dedicated camera button has a half press to focus which is a feature that is oft missing from smartphones but really helps when taking photos. The X10’s photo ability is better than the Desire, when in good lighting the camera is excellent but as soon as the X10 hits low light, the camera quality is massively reduced. It has a photo light which is a LED lamp, this actually ends up leaving a bright central patch on the pictures but still leaving the rest of the picture dark.P1000182

Charging the X10 is done by connecting the charger in the top of the phone which for me personally is  awkward. I’m often on the phone in the late evenings to friends and family and this is usually the time the device needs charging, having the micro USB connector on top of the device means there is a cable tugging your hand while you have the X10 to your ear and makes for an uncomfortable call over long periods.

Battery has been hit and miss, my average usage is heavy and during the first couple of days the X10 would last just over a full day, however as the weeks gone on I’ve found more often than not I will be placing it on charge around 9pm in the evening. This is comparable to the Desire but I fancy in an out to out battery test, the HTC device would just edge out the X10.

Software

I think the software is what really lets the Xperia X10 down. First things first, its not really a direct P1000170comparison to the HTC Desire in that the X10 has Android 1.6, where as the Desire is Android 2.1. This means a few things, firstly and most importantly for me, no native Exchange support. I’ve had my Exchange mailbox now for quite sometime and its an indispensible feature of my daily life, so I was shocked to discover no support from the X10. There is however a set of applications included on the device called Moxier which gives basic ActiveSync support. It can receive push emails, sync contacts and calendar but there are some caveats. Contacts do not appear in the dialler when you begin to type a number into it, you also cannot edit or add contacts from the devices standard contacts menu, for these items you need to open the Moxier Contacts application.  The email application is vastly different from Androids standard email app and it misses the ability to multi select messages to delete. I get over 60 emails a day and that is important.

Sony Ericcson include there own interface on the device which adds some nice animations to menus, this interface also includes Mediascape and Timescape. Mediascape is a portal for viewing all your music, video and pictures. Timescape is a timeline view for all your messages, twitter feed, emails, pictures, video, music, call logs and weather. I found myself using this hardly at all as it uses small squares for each item which means it pretty hard to get any real world information from it.

Browsing is as you would expect of a 1Ghz webkit enabled device, rendering is smooth and quick and scrolling is fluid. I still think these Android powered super phones are a great balance for browsing on the move, 3.7 inches and above, 1Ghz processors and an all day battery life makes for a good mobile internet device.

P1000179The on screen keyboard is simply terrible, there is no other way to describe it. By default haptic feedback is turned off, meaning you don’t know if you’ve pressed a key or not. A little digging in the menus and I was able to enable it but this is when things got worse. The accuracy of the keyboard is poor but it has a pretty good predictive setup which would often display the right word for you early into typing the word. The keys towards to edges of the screen would pop up like you had pressed them but not actually add the character to the text, this is was made worse by the fact that the haptic feedback would signal that the letter had actually been pressed.

This is a killer, for a device that’s supposed to be at the centre of your social networking, its a big fail, a bad keyboard experience will be with a user every time he or she uses the device. It might be compounded by the fact that the Desire keyboard is actually very good. When you press a key, you get a letter, no false positives.

Conclusion

As the week has gone on I have actually enjoyed the Xperia X10 more and more, its grown on me, despite of the issues. Looking back what has struck me is that all of the problems that would effect me are all software based and could be resolved with an update. I think the Android 2.1 update would be a great start but reading through the news this is not going to happen until Q4 this year. That’s too long, for a company like Sony Ericsson, the update should be quicker.

I have developed a small soft spot for the X10, despite its annoyances. Would I swap it for the Desire permanently? Hell no.

The Desire has the luxury of coming with HTC Sense, Android 2.1 and a by far better keyboard.

If your looking for a super phone with heavily integrated social networking then its a no brainer, get the HTC Desire.

Make sure you check out Steve Paines coverage of the HTC Desire over at his X10 mini site. Also check out my initial thoughts of the Xperia X10.

4 Comments to “A Week On: Living with the Xperia X10”

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    Hi Guy.

    Thanks for the article. Excelent. Some comments…..

    “Charging the X10 is done by connecting the charger in the top of the phone which for me personally is awkward.”
    Totally agree. The charging point on the X10 is stupid!

    “placing it on charge around 9pm in the evening” In my experience, as you said, the Desire would beat the X10. I’m finding that the Desire gives me 1-2hrs extra.

    I agree that the keyboard on the X10 is poor. I’m really worried that after using the Desire, it will be unacceptable. We’ll see next week.

    “a bad keyboard experience will be with a user every time he or she uses the device. ”
    Not completely true as there are other keyboards in the Marketplace and SE could fix this via firmware but as it stands today, the OSK in portratit mode is one of the worst capacative experiences i’ve had. In landscape mode it gets a lot better don’t you think?

    “the Desire has the luxury of coming with HTC Sense” Yes. a key selling-point.

    Steve / Chippy

  2. Guy says:

    Certainly agree about the keyboard Chippy, in landscape mode its far more usable and you don’t seem to get the problems with the keys towards the edge of the screen.

    I think most of the problems I experienced with the device could be resolved with a firmware update, SE could still have a fantastic device but Q4 of this year for an update? Is that too long to wait when by Q4 the next generation of super phones will probably be announced, your thoughts?

  3. Hi anyone, I have a niggle..
    . Yahoo roadmaps keeps starting up up on it’s personal in background and getting loads of battery with it. For instance, yesterday I took it off charge and it was sat idle with all the screen blanked for about 4 hours. When I flicked it on I was surprised to see that the battery was only 50% full which is negative even for that x10! When I looked at what was operating, I discovered Moxier mail (no surprises there) and Yahoo Maps.

  4. Dan Mein says:

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