Xperia X10. Is Total Convergence The Answer?

Updated on 10 June 2018 by

When the N900 was launched, Nokia positioned it as a total convergence device. It’s a dream (and the subject of my first ever blog post in 2006). The X10 is also aiming to be a total convergence device and does an incredible amount of activities with impressive quality but again I say no; and that’s not all. Battery life is a major problem with every smartphone I’ve ever used. I wrote about the problem back in 2008 and again in January. The X10 re-confirms my theory. There is NO SUCH THING AS IDLE and screens and communications continue to take the lions share of battery drain. Smartphones, when used professionally  as smartphones, don’t bring all-day battery life.

X10compare

Forget talk about cpu idle power claims because it’s totally irrelevant. 2W is the headroom needed to do all the things the marketing people tell you are possible and assuming you ‘only’ use the device for 15 minutes every hour, you’ll need a 7.5wh battery to get you through a full day.

The X10 has a 5.5wh battery which means it’s not going to hit the mark for many. It needs attention, a top-up late in the day and if you’re to be ready for the next day it needs plugging in before you go to bed. That late-day top-up is a big risk if you’re a pro user and relying on being able to take an important phone call or respond to an email at any time and if that risk is there, you’ll need to manage it. In this case it means either a spare battery, a universal charger or, and I suspect that this is going to be the easiest route for many, take a second phone. Either way, you’ve got a second device and a problem.

Corner cutting.

The X10 pushes the boundaries in so many ways but it does it within the confines of a pocketable size, smartphone pricing and smartphone life-cycles and that means (and always will mean) cutting corners. The web experience is great but even though you’ve got 800×480 pixels, the pixels are too small. a 5 inch screen has always been better for mobile web browsing from the hand and now that people are experiencing even bigger handheld web experiences, the 4 inch screen has issues. Zooming to click a link is a pain in the backside.

Then there’s the camera. How do you keep the price down and still provide a superb photo solution? You stick to daylight-only scenarios, drop the flash and choose a daylight sensor. The X10 is crap at low-light and flash situations. My 2 year-old N82 beats the pants off it.

How do you keep the design simple, reduce parts costs and avoid having to ship 500 different physical keyboard layouts? You make a tablet device with a software keyboard. Losing 50% of a landscape screen to a keyboard isn’t nice but it’s a great way to reduce the time-to-market costs.

How do you tackle the audio issues? Speakers need space, always. To fix that problem you ship it with a standard 3.5mm headphone port and hope no-one wants to use it as a radio. The speaker on the X10 is far from ‘top quartile.’

A great MID.

A 500 Euro smartphone is an expensive item but when you look at what the X10 is giving you it’s hard to put much weight on the corner-cutting. In terms of mobile internet, the X10 blows away any Intel-based MID I’ve tried. Sure, I’ll have to put up with a no-flash experience but the X10 brings me email, PIM and calendar integration, sync and accessibility that I’ve never had before. The dedicated GMail J2ME app on my old Nokia 6280 was really fast but this is something else altogether. Being able to push information around (sharing with email, IM, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and other important networks) is easier than on a PC and when you add the always-on feature, GPS (location based search adds a lot of value) a WVGA video capability and an 8MP camera that puts every PC-based 1.3mp webcam to shame, you’ve got something special that goes way beyond browsing. With 4-6hrs full-on web browsing time, 9GB storage and a 138gm (measured here) weight, you can forgive it not having the ability to beat a dedicated digital camera in a low-light photography test.

What have I learnt?

I’ve learnt that I use the Internet too much for a smartphone. Actually I knew that already which is why I’m still looking for the ultimate MID but the X10 serves to re-iterate that point. No smartphone battery can keep up with me.

I’ve learnt that Android fits me perfectly. I’m a Google user and Android brings my services to me in a way that no other device ever has and that means that I won’t pursue a Windows-based mobile internet device. Actually, I never did. I knew that a dedicated OS was needed from day 1 but the choice just hasn’t been there. [History: Carrypad was started in 2006 to journal my question for a mobile internet device]

I’ve learnt that I love having a top-end, stylish smartphone. Just because! (Who doesn’t?)

I’ve learnt that the ARM/Android platform is able to bring a consistently high-speed, multitasking and flexible web experience. I experienced it on the Archos 5 and it’s here again on the X10. Android will easily scale to bigger screens and given the apps, would be able to provide a productive internet experience.

I’ve reaffirmed that the Marketplace is critical. Without it, Android devices just can’t keep up.

I’ve learnt that the X10 may not be for me but I know it will be difficult to part with it. I’ve tasted Google Android at 1Ghz and I don’t want to step down from that. The Dell Mini may be my savior.

HTC Nexus One / Desire, Motorola Milestone / Droid

Many of you have been asking how the X10 compares to these two phones. I’m afraid I can’t comment on the Desire and N1 because my hands-on was with a device that kept crashing but from my brief hands-on with the Nexus One I can say that the experience is very comparable. As for the Droid, I’ll immediately say that the Droid is a better value device. It’s available for under 400 Euros now and has the 2.1 upgrade. It offers similar photo, web and UI experience. If you’re a Google user and smartphone oriented,you’re not going to walk away from a Droid purchase unhappy.

The fact is that all five devices are top quality Android smartphones and offer an experience that will is likely to lock you in to the Android way.

Detailed first impressions and review.

I’m writing about the X10 in detail on a separate sub-blog and have just posted Part 1 of my first impressions. The article highlights three potential show-stoppers so take a look, comment and check back soon for part 2 where I cover the good stuff. Part 2 is going to be much longer than Part 1 I’m sure!

Also on the XperiaX10 blog:

Sample Daylight Photos. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to create photo’s and videos on a UMPC!

Size comparison. Includes Archos 5, 5 inch PMP.

Information on the screen.  It’s transflective. Why didn’t UMPCs ever get good outdoor screens?

Unboxing and Open Review (with JKK)

More from us. (No silly ads.)

27 Comments For This Post

  1. UMPCPortal says:

    New article: Xperia X10. Is Total Convergence The Answer? http://bit.ly/buyUZF

  2. Gretchen Glasscock says:

    Xperia X10. Is Total Convergence The Answer?: In this article I take a look at what the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 t… http://bit.ly/bOqpaK

  3. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    RT @umpcportal: Xperia X10. Is Total Convergence The Answer? http://bit.ly/buyUZF

  4. IngoZ says:

    RT @chippy: RT @umpcportal: Xperia X10. Is Total Convergence The Answer? http://bit.ly/buyUZF

  5. P. Riggins says:

    Interesting: Xperia X10. Is Total Convergence The Answer? – In this article I take a look at what the Sony Ericsson… http://ow.ly/177ulz

  6. Krish Patel says:

    RT @chippy: RT @umpcportal: Xperia X10. Is Total Convergence The Answer? http://bit.ly/buyUZF

  7. turn_self_off says:

    i suspect we will see more and more external battery packs on people pockets and bags, to make sure their battery hungry device can keep up until the days end. And also more multi-port usb based chargers so that both device and mentioned battery can be charged at the same time.

  8. Rafael Tini says:

    RT @chippy: RT @umpcportal: Xperia X10. Is Total Convergence The Answer? http://bit.ly/buyUZF //E acabou de ser lançado no Brasil R$1899

  9. TareX says:

    This is why I’m waiting for TEGRA 2 smartphones to hit H2 2010. It is the ONLY intelligent high-performance SOC out there. Forget Snapdragon and the upcoming Scorpion. Tegra 2 turns its cores on and off according to the task on hand, resulting in phenomenal battery life compared to the rest of the competition.

    So the gadget world can keep it’s Snapdragon revolution, I’ll wait for Tegra 2…

  10. chippy says:

    With 60% or more of battery drain coming from radio, screen and actual use, the ‘power-gating’ won’t affect battery life that much. It will help, but don’t expect miracles. Screen tech needs changing first.

    P.S. Scorpion is the CPU in Snapdragon too.

  11. TareX says:

    Well Chippy, correct me if I’m wrong, but with Super AMOLED screens making appearances, screen battery drains are reduced down to 30% (without sacrificing outdoors viewability like OLED and AMOLED) . This is big, because you don’t have a constantly flashing strong backlight all the time. With smart computing as in Tegra compared to Snapdragon+GPU, there is a near-miraculous increase in battery life. We don’t have any Tegra 2 smartphones to compare with, right now. But we will. As for Tegra 1, feel free to compare the Zune HD to the iPod Touch battery life (incomparable).

  12. Patrick says:

    Agree for the screen. We need Mirasol or Liquavista MID screens ASAP. We also have to see how will 4G radio compare (doubtful on that though).

  13. umpcaddict says:

    no windows mobile? skyfire browser for wm supports flash, ajax, silverlight, and java. i can also boot android 2.1 on my touch pro 2 with voice+data that suspends. the HTC HD 2 has a 1GHz Snapdragon

  14. FireDragon says:

    The issue here is not in devices and batteries, they are doing what they are made to do. The problem is with the usage because these devices are doing so much more than we as user almost always do something on them. Even if it is just to know what time is it, it swallows more juice out of the battery.

  15. Tejlgaard says:

    The Apple Iphone has a number of periferals available to it that extend its battery life, at the price of making the device thicker. They usually pop on as though they were a sleeve.
    Here’s one:
    http://www.amazon.com/iPhone-Sleeve-Extends-Battery-Hours/dp/B001FMQI1W

    Since the X10 doesn’t have any moveable parts due to its form factor, the biggest sacrifice would be access to the camera on the back, yes? But
    if the sleeve was correctly designed, it could easily include a proper xenon lamp and capacitor bank for flash, as well as a hole for the camera to peek through.

    Add 60 grams to the weight, get an additional 5wh battery, and about 4mm thickness. It’d be a bit of a brick, which would be unnerving because you obviously love having it in its current stylish form..But wouldn’t a peripheral like this take care of most of your qualms, making it a much better mid at the expense of being a slightly worse phone?

  16. turn_self_off says:

    the “problem” with that is that there are multiple brands, each having their own design shapes. Apple on the other hand have stayed with the same design for the iphone (and ipod touch) for its entire product life (a reason for my phantom comparisons) so a external pack that works with the first iphone will work with the iphone 3gs.

    still, i am more partial, as can be seen in the first comment, for external packs that do not directly attach to the phone, or other device, but have one or more usb ports.

  17. yoyoblog says:

    Interesting article. The X10 seems to have some drawbacks. The Dell Mini 5 may be better, but is release date is unknown. Other devices like the iPad have their own pros and cons.

    I own an Archos 5 with Android, a Nokia 5800, a PC, a Laptop and other tech gadgets. The Archos 5 ist good for music, movies, reading, sofa surfing and a lot of other things. You can easily hold it in one hand, enjoy the internet and install lots of apps. Google market is no problem with a simple hack. It would be nice to have more RAM and battery power.

    The Nokia 5800 is a cheap smartphone with a lot of goodies. It has 3G, Wifi, a 3 MP camera, GPS with free turn by turn navigation, music and video player .. This used to be my main handheld device, but now I use the Archos more often because it has a bigger screen and better appstore.

    The Xperia X10, the HTC Desire, the iPhone and others may be good devices, but I think they are to expensive. Most people will look in the price range from $200 to $300, thats one reason for the success of netbooks and feature phones. But now we can have smartphones and internet tablets for that price too. I dont think there will be one device for all needs.

  18. GTaylor says:

    As I have mentioned before convergence devices need three benchmarks to work naturally in a mobile working situation.
    the first two go to power usage:
    1. Asymmetrical multicore processors, small for stand by, more as needed. Picture the power drain of a Cowan D2 and a text pager when on stand by; several day battery life is not a problem.
    2. Scalable screens. Large screen for full use and fewer sectors when all that is needed is a clock and update notifications.
    The last benchmark covers everything.
    Better standards and less variety. With out this anything else is just marketing. You buy one feature set at a time and you never get all needs satisfied.

  19. Charlie says:

    Please learn that the past tense of “learn” is “learned” :)

  20. umpcaddict says:

    look!

    it’s the grammatical error police!

    this is a blog, not a dissertation.

    where are your punctuation marks?!

    ;)

  21. umpcaddict says:

    http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutspelling/learnt

    hahaha

    Charlie = FAIL

    I knew it was an English thing!

    Chippy FTW

  22. Ben_UK says:

    Get a HD2 (make it 4.5″), add a slide out like TG02, add a power efficent CPU running Windows 7 and a sperate CPU if possible dealing with a mobile OS e.g Android and have a host of external battery pack solutions as to the users needs and voila!

  23. sophocha says:

    …or get an N900, flash it with the overclocked kernel that opens up the low 125Mhz frequency instead of idling at 250mhz and you have another day of battery life!….open source :)

  24. Charles in Canada says:

    Chippy,
    You mentioned the N900 at the beginning of the article. Are you still using yours? As per the article, you find Android a better platform for you. I’ve been trying to decide between Android and Maemo/Meego; what’s your perspective on that?

  25. chippy says:

    The loaner N900 I have broke a few weeks after I got it!

  26. Paquito says:

    Sad thing, the company that has the simple solution to the battery issues is draining itself. Remember the Palm stone, where it is very easy to recharge the Palm Pre thru cordless charging. This is the same idea the Powermat is doing but with the latter we need adapter/sleeve on the device. How I wish Apple will takeover Palm so the former can use the same technology on the iphone 4g.

  27. Charles in Canada says:

    Well, if batteries were equipped to be inductively chargeable, then Chippy could recharge as many batteries as he needs on his powermat (another cool toy) while abusing his top-end, stylish smartphone (just because). The price to pay? just one or two extra small batteries in his pocket and the inconvenience of having to change the batteries in his SuperCoolSuperSmartPhoneTurnedUMPC during the day…

    But there’s hope: battery technologies continue to improve…

    In the meantime, I’m waiting the the Dell Mini5…

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