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New Mobile: SE X10 Mini Pro

Sony Ericsson Xperia x10 mini proI got a new phone, yay. Here's the history: As a mostly Google-centred user, the advent of Google's mobile operating system over the past 12 months or so had seen me getting increasingly interested in getting a smart-phone. I'm not at all interested in iPhones, nor Nokia's own unimpressive attempts at touch-screen smart-phones. However the average size of Android-based phones having big-ish iPhone-sized touch-screens have also not interested me at all.

Ever since having a Nokia 8310 back in 2002/3 I have been spoilt by small-size phones that easily and comfortably fit in a pocket. All of my phones since then (Samsung D500, Nokia 5300, Nokia 6600 slide) have been chosen mainly because of their small size firstly, and features second.

Up until last week, i wasn't aware of any Android phones that were quite the small size i'm used to. I'm not sure how I managed to miss it, but last week in stumbling around the 'net I found the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro (quite a mouthful to say!).

It's around the same size but a little thicker than my 6600 slide, but it has pretty much everything I was looking for: Android OS (recently updated to 2.1), quad-band GSM and HSDPA, touch-screen as well as a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard, decent UI, etc.

So with permission from the Minister for War and Finance, as an early Christmas present i terminated my existing contract (which was surprisingly cheap on Crazy John's previous early termination terms (before they were bought out by Vodafone)) and got the new phone on a 12 month contract at the same cap price as before ($29/month), and added a 350MB data pack for an extra $5/month (for a total of 550MB data per month).

I've spent the better part of the last few days setting up the thing, which included removing the Vodafone branding, upgrading it to Android 2.1, removing the pre-installed SE bloat, and setting it up how I like it.

This is only my second time straying away from Nokias (the first being THAT experience with the Samsung D500), and it's my first Sony Ericsson phone i've had. I've previously not been a fan at all of the pre-Android SEs, I thought their hardware and their OS was extremely unintuitive and clunky.

So far I'm mostly impressed with this new phone; having a proper smart-data-connected-phone is a new experience for me, and as a Google-centred internet user it's a breeze with Android and the Gmail/Google Calendar/Contacts sync. It also has a few nice touches like automatically matching your contacts with Facebook to automatically pull-down profile pics for the contact list.

I've gone a bit nuts with installing some useful (and some not very useful) apps from the Android Market, and i'm a little disappointed that most of the decent 'free' ones come with ads that get pulled over the data connection, although i have found some real gems that are totally free and ad-free (like the excellent Jorte calendar app to replace the measly SE built-in one).

A few of the things that i'm not sure about at the moment includes the font-size generally on the device (but i shouldn't really complain that much because of my phone-size-criteria, but more options for font-size would be nice), and battery life (which has turned out to be a bit short with my current (over-) use, but i'll have to wait until my usage settles down to a normal pattern before making judgement on that one).

Probably the most disappointing aspect of the device itself is the camera. Although it has a decent 5mp lens, I can't get the thing to reliably take focused shots using the included camera app, mainly because of the pressure required to push the physical button. I've had to get a new camera app which has a on-screen capture button to get around this.

Anywho, my now-previous Nokia 6600 slide was probably one of the best phones i've ever had, so this new one is going to have some big shoes to fill. I think provided it lasts the test of time (and i've already applied a screen-protector to the face of it!), it's by no means perfect but it does looks promising.

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