Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 first look

What Mobile
November 2, 2009

The launch of the Xperia X10 isn’t, according to Sony Ericsson, simply the announcement that it’s releasing an Android device. Everyone has probably seen the spy shots and early specs, as well as concept videos showing off the new user experience. What Sony Ericsson didn’t tell anyone was that this new experience reflects the future vision for the company – and the clever features shown on the flagship Xperia X10 will also appear on many more devices in 2010 and beyond.

The company also confirmed that it will be releasing fewer devices next year, and concentrating primarily on mid to high-end models – rather like the early days of Sony Ericsson when it was formed with handsets that included the T68i and the Symbian/UIQ smartphone, the P800i.

In fact, unless Sony Ericsson specifically receives a firm order from an operator to produce a batch of entry-level handsets, it seems unlikely they will even try to compete in that part of the market, preferring to allow other manufacturers to compete in a part of the market they have had little success in.

But, on to the X10 itself. Having seen lots of rumours out there, we’ve separated the facts from the fiction…

Rumoured: The X10 will have a 4.1-inch, OLED, capacitive touchscreen display.
The truth: The X10 has a 4-inch, TFT, capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 854×480 pixels.

Rumoured: 1GHz Snapdragon processor.
The truth: Yes, it will ship with a Snapdragon processor. The speed of the device is impressive, and it is essential for offering support for processor intensive tasks like rendering the animated UI and allowing the use of the face detection feature. Unfortunately, on the development model we saw, all of the Sony Ericsson developed features were slow and very laggy. It looks to be in need of a lot more work – but does prove thet fancy pre-rendered conceptual videos will soon make it into reality.

Rumoured: The X10 will be on sale in a matter of days or weeks.
The truth: The phone is due for release in Q1 of 2010, and the sluggishness of many aspects of the phone means we’d expect it to be nearer the middle to end of Q1, although Sony Ericsson insisted it would not be a case of shipping it at 2359 on March 31st!

Rumoured: The X10 will be running Android OS 2.0
The truth: This phone will ship with Android 1.6 and besides the Sony Ericsson UI enhancements, it’s a pretty standard offering with no support for multitouch, no enhancements to the web browser or other 2.0 features such as Bluetooth file transfer. Sony Ericsson didn’t confirm if it would be offering an upgrade path to Android 2.0 (and beyond), but it seems likely in view of what was said later regarding updates to Sony Ericsson devices in general.

Rumoured: 32GB of onboard storage.
The truth: The phone will use memory cards, with an 8GB microSDHC card shipping with the device.

Rumoured: The X10 will have a completely unique user interface.
The truth: This is mostly correct, with two key additions for handling contacts and multimedia – with a view to ‘humanising’ the user experience. Timescape and Mediascape are each integrated with the standard Android OS, rather like HTC’s Sense, to give a customised and unique user experience that makes it quick and easy to manage media, your contacts and social media that’s all integrated.

Rumoured: The phone will have integration with the Playstation 3 (like the Aino).
The truth: Although it is feasible for such a feature to be made available via an application released in the future, the X10 has no native support for the service exclusively available on the current Aino (based on Sony Ericsson’s A200 platform).

Other facts about the Xperia X10:

  • It will use the same 1500mAh BST-41 battery as used on the Xperia X2 – actual battery life data was not confirmed

  • It has a 3.5mm headphone jack – but no integrated stand to sit the phone up for watching video (like the W995)

  • There’s no proprietary Sony Ericsson charging port; the X10 now uses the standardised microUSB connection hidden behind a cover – although on the prototype model this was removed. We’re not sure if it is designed to be removed, or was simply not present.

Another new feature is face detection for images. This isn’t the usual face detection for autofocus purposes or exposure adjustment (it has this too), but actual detection of people in photographs. Once a person is tagged, the phone will look for matches in your other photos. When everything is tagged, you can call people by selecting their face, and view pictures associated with the contact in your phonebook.

Other media, including Twitter tweets, Facebook status updates, texts, emails and so on will also be associated with each contact in your phonebook. At any time, you can communicate with a contact in a variety of different ways.

Meanwhile, the phone retains the standard Android notification bar and will run all Android applications designed to work on the higher resolution display – all accessible from the usual menu pulled up from the base of the screen.

On the back of the phone is the 8.1-megapixel autofocus camera already present on the C905, W995 and Aino/U10 – with an LED flash.

Sony Ericsson is planning to roll out the new user experience (‘UX Platform’) to future devices, including future Symbian devices. However, despite the recent release of the flagship Satio, this will not receive a retrospective update and will not feature any of the new features shown. Nor will the X10 have any branding onboard for the Walkman or Cyber-shot names. Sony Ericsson do, however, acknowledge that it is no longer just about making hardware and the company aims to be more focused on software in the future – providing more updates and support in the form of firmware updates and new applications.

The X10 will be available at launch in two colours; Luster White and Sensuous Black – pricing is yet to be confirmed.


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