Yesterday was quite a busy day for me and what made it worse was a new device. I got a rare opportunity to test the new Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 for one night. Naturally I took it and decided to share my experience. Note that I only got the phone itself, no box, no accessories, not even a charger so I apologize in advance for not covering that.
The phone is from the new Xperia line of Sony Ericsson devices. What makes the Xperia phones special is that they run Windows Mobile, as opposed to Symbian UIQ which is usually present on the company’s smartphones. Let’s start with the hardware.
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On the right side of the device we have a camera button, which as the name implies activates the camera, and a double button that controls the volume and the zoom. On the lower part of the device there is also one of the stereo speakers.
On the Left hand side of the device we have the power connector a function button (presumably push-to-talk) and the other speaker. The power connector is one that I personally haven’t seen before, its probably a different shape miniusb, but once again I had no way to check as I didn’t have the power adapter.
The back of the device is where the camera sits. Its a 3.2 megapixel autofocus, with a single LED to help light the scenery. Its a shame its not a xenon flash. The camera worked ok but unfortunately due to time constraints I don’t have any sample pictures. Underneath the camera in the corner is the stylus slot. The stylus is metal, and it is really thin. It has a very pointy plastic tip I was afraid I might scratch the screen with it.
The back has a nice metal cover which can be taken of by prying on both sides like on the SE W880i. This exposes the memory card slot on the side and the battery. The model of the prototype battery is Sony BST-41 and its capacity is 1500 mah. Lifting the battery out exposes the SIM slot. The mechanism is not as nice as the one I have become used to on my N95, but its ok. Definitely not as easy to take the SIM out but most people will rarely need to do that.
On the bottom of the device is what appears to be a lanyard hole. Knowing Sony Ericsson, one will probably be included in the final retail pack.
The top of the device is where the power button and the 3.5m headphone jack are. The power button is slightly recessed and has a nice tactile feel to it. The placement of the button is great it allows to put the device in and out of sleep mode quickly. The 3.5m jack is standard. Something to note is that it is not recessed like the iPhone jack.
The front is where things get interesting. Starting from the top we have the speaker phone, and underneath it we have the gorgeous large high resolution screen. It is 800×480 pixels which makes viewing websites wonderful. Another thing to note is that the screen has a nice touch layer that is almost completely flat. Way better than the one on the HTC Shift. Under the screen are the controls. There we have the left and right softkey, the call end and receive buttons, the dpad, an ok button and the button that opens the panel interface.
An interesting thing about this phone is that it has multicolor LEDs on each of the 4 corners and double white LEDs on the bottom of the front of the case. I was only able to get these to light up when booting up the phone . The bottom left corner lights up when activating the panel interface.
An nice innovation here is the slider. Sliding the phone out revels he keyboard which provides good tactile feedback and is comfortable. The is however shaped like an arc, so the phone is angled towards you when you hold it. Its hard to describe, look at the pictures. The mechanism is spring loaded and works very well. Better than the one on the TyTN II.
Now let’s get on to the software side. Since this is a prototype unit there is not a lot really implemented in the software. It is mostly standard Windows Mobile 6.1. There is a custom dialer, and a small menu to close programs in the corner.
The panel interface is mostly a proof of concept, as most of the selections were basically dummy images. One that I got to work was a cross-media-bar like interface to view picture, music, games etc. You can see that in the video, Other than that the software kept freezing and and I had to reboot the phone a couple of times. Again, its hard to describe it, if you want to know more watch the video. Because of the high resolution screen, browsing the internet was quite enjoyable, definitely more than on other Windows Mobile devices I used. The kinetic scrolling also worked well, but it was no iPhone. The screen orientation switched fast from portrait to landscape and vice versa.
For the short time that I used the phone, I definitely got a positive impression. Sony Ericsson definitely has a great device that will surely please many people. To sum it up on the software side though, the interface and usability of Windows mobile wasn’t much improved yet. I hope Sony Ericsson can do more about that to make this a phone no one will have a problem with using.
Here is a two part video preview I made of the device. Keep in mind I’m still a bit sick and this is one of my first videos, so go easy on me ;)
More information about the Xperia X1 in the product portal.
More images in the gallery.