At the end of June as promised, Sony Ericsson released the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro that is essentially the X10 Mini in terms of interface with a slide-out keyboard. That being the case, this review will focus more on its design and performance.
The first difference that gets noticed is a nice chromed accent surrounding the phone, which divides the display and the keyboard halves. The phone can also be customized with red and pearl white back covers.
The Sony Ericsson engineers reshuffled the internals to fit in the keyboard which resulted in different port placements from the X10 mini. The headphone jack is now located at the top, where the power/lock key is located at. The microUSB port has also shifted to the left but with no protective cap this time. Located at the bottom are only the microphone and the lanyard slits. The 5MP camera’s LED flash and the other elements on the back have also been shifted around.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro’s keyboard feels well-oiled while opening, but requires additional pressure to snap it back which will probably loosen it up with prolonged usage. The keyboard is made from simple gray plastic and has a deep enough travel feedback but still feels quite cramped. There is not enough space to type quickly and comfortably and capping a letter close to the shift key requires a degree of finger flexibility. The two arrow keys on both sides of the space bar helps out a lot which would otherwise be somewhat hard to come to the exact letter by tapping on the small screen.
While the keyboard is tiny, it’s still a great help with typing on the miniature phone. In fact, users with bigger handsets and a physical keyboard usually use the virtual one for a short message or quick contact saves because it is just faster. While none of the mini handsets has a virtual QWERTY keyboard out of the box, with the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro, you’ll always slide out the physical keys because that works best. To tell the truth, it’s beginning to feel like a totally different phone now; not so much a fashion accessory and exactly what the kid in Sony Ericsson’s Xperia family requires to become more functional.
The camera interface is the same simple screen with the four preset modes namely, auto, macro, twilight and sports, like the ones found in the X10 mini. The pictures taken outside came out a bit noisy and not very detail-rich on a cloudy day, but with true colours. Camera action is good with just a slight pause in between shots. Indoor pictures are decent, but noisy without flash usage from a short distance.
Video capturing resolution is 640×480 in MPEG-4 format and the video taken is quite smooth at 30 fps with a nice image quality to it. The only available video setting toggles the LED light on and off. The results from the snap test aren’t much different from the X10 mini which makes the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro a decent camera companion.
The loudspeaker is much better than the one on the X10 mini which was great with its deep bass, clear pitches and minimal distortion when playing music. Coupled with the usual top-notch music interface of Sony Ericsson, it makes the tiny cubist phone a great mobile player. Unfortunately the supplied stereo headset could’ve been better.
Voice quality with incoming calls was satisfying and the volume was sufficient. However, clarity was much worse on the other end and the other party reported muffled and muddy voices even though the volume was decent.
The battery of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro, a Li-Po 930 mAh, is rated at a measly 3.5 hours of talk time in 3G mode, and 15 days of standby.
Pros and Cons
The cons of the mini pro are the cramped keys on the physical keyboard and a slightly thick handset.
While the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 is company’s first Android-powered device, being first is not always good. You have to live up to some serious initial expectations and justify them in the best case scenarios. But Sony Ericsson obviously didn’t get the memo. The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini pro is a promising device with a (mostly) bright future waiting for it as it’s quite the looker but there’re still stuffs that need polishing. With Android 1.6 (Donut) considered outdated, especially for a high-end smartphone.