Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 1 month review

I have had my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i for about a month now, and thought I could have a more reflected review than perhaps the one I nearly wrote just after I received it.

My previous phone was an Apple iPhone 3GS, so I can compare the X10 to maybe its more glamorous competitor. I will also compare it to my previous phones, such as the Nokia N95 8GB and other Android based phones I know.

In brief, what is the Xperia X10?
It is Sony Ericsson's first Android based mobile phone.

Key features:

  • 4" touch screen with no keyboard

  • 8.1 mp camera with LED light and face recognition

  • 1GB memory, includes an 8GB SD card

  • Sony Ericsson's own Rachael GUI on top of Android 1.6

  • Includes Sony Ericsson's TimeScape app for social network and communication overview

  • Includes Sony Ericsson's MediaScape, PlayNow and TrackID apps

Its Good points (Pros)

It is Android based. So you are much more in control of your own phone compared to e.g. the iPhone. Background apps are no problem etc.

The looks.
It is a very good looking phone. It also feels good for such a large screen. Its not bulky in your pocket. Unlike my N95! The screen is also very clear and bright.

The camera is excellent.
The iPhone camera was quite rubbish in comparison.
The X10's photos are very clear.

The N95 5MB and good lens was good, but the X10 is better.

The camera button which N95 did also have which iPhone does not have is a significant benefit. No more fidling around trying to take photos while trying to find the button on the screen with your other hand.

MediaScape is really usefull.
Android stock software has no proper media apps. But being a Sony derivative company, the X10 shines in this department. Not quite the full iPhone/iTunes interaction but Im not complaining, The PlayNow store works well. MediaScape integrates well with Picasa's online photo storage, but not flickr. Some improvements can be made, but media wise the X10 is excellent.

The GUI interface that SE has on top of Android code named Rachael works really well. It is only a thin layer on top of Android but is more slick and consistant. It integrates well with menu options and contact list etc. So well you are not really aware it is there, but makes the X10 stand out compared to a stock Android system.

The MW600 bluetooth stereo headset that comes with the phone (as well as a good pair of wired headsets) is really good. It has built in FM radio as well.

Its bad points (Cons)

TimeScape does not scale well.
It is a really good demo app. But once you start using it in real life it fails miserably. It just is not designed for people on Facebook or Twitter with more than a couple of friends (ie most people). Im no stalker, I perhaps follow 100-200 on both Twitter and Facebook which is less than most, but that already makes the TimeScape interface unusuable, just a big motion blurred scroll list. Some future updates could fix this. Such as limiting to certain Twitter lists, and facebook groups of friends for example.

The Android market, the app store on these devices is not great compared to the Apple app store.

You can't buy any apps if you live in Scandinavia which is ridicoulous. So we are limited to free ones only.

I am not sure about the quality or security of many of these, most seem like raw copies of others. There is no regional information, so the list is e.g. italian metro system info or loads of US bank apps for example, which is of no interest to me. There is few ways to find apps of interest to me, or new apps that is well liked etc.

There are some good apps though, and Ill list some in another post.

Android 1.6
The phone ships with Android 1.6 which is an outdated Android version. SE have shot themselves a little in the foot with this error and have been laughed at in the press regarding this. However I don't think it is big issue. If you are not aware of the improvements in 2.0, 2.1 etc then it is not a problem.

However they do need to roll out an upgrade. SE have announced upgrades later on this year. Which seems very slow to me. If this is how they will delay future updates as well then I slightly concerned about their policy.

No multitouch
Partly because old Android version, but apparently also because of hardware issues.
Not that big a deal for me. I don't like pinch and zoom, and tend to use my phone with one hand anyway. However I can see this is a big issue for other people.

Call quality
Call quality is fine, but some of the people say they can here themselves. Solved by lowering my volume slightly but should have been cancelled out by the microphone instead.

Battery life

The biggest minus of the X10 is the battery life.
In brief it sucks.
From a large screened touch smart phone I was not expecting miracles. But it is rubbish even compared to the iPhone.

With e.g. my N95 I charged it every 2 or 3 days.

With my iPhone I charged it every day, but even if I didn't it was still alive in the morning. Not great but acceptable.

With my Xperia X10 I have to charge it twice a day otherwise it is a dead brick in the morning.

Which is attrioucious. Initial exuberance and overuse will result in more battery drain, but now I am in a normal usage pattern and this should not be acceptable. Disabling all auto syncing, auto killing processes etc should make it last a long time, but does not.

Android does come with a nice battery analyses app. And on most large screened smartphones it is the display that kills the battery. But on the X10 the display is 3-4%, while "Phone idle" takes ~50% and "Cell standby" taks 45%!! Two processes I would not expect to kill my phone. (Maybe cell standby if I was in a bad reception area, but Im not.)


If the battery problem gets sorted I would recommmend it to everyone. I do love the phone, but it just frustrating that it is often dead or dying.

If you are of a technology background or gadget fan then it is better than an iPhone.

However if all you want is a swish looking touch smart phone then iPhone's consistent well polished interface and apps are better.

If you still have a Nokia or similar, upgrade now!


flurdy said...

A good tip to avoid a dead brick in the morning is too reboot the phone before you go to bed. Then kill all apps.

For some reason this then makes a quite a difference, and usually my phone then do have some juice in the morning.

flurdy said...

The firmware update in August improved the battery life a lot. My phone is no longer a brick in the mornings. Also it now accuratly reports the display as themain battery consumer.