Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 review: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

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Typical Price: $1,099.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars 18 user reviews

The Good Sleek design, huge screen. Mediascape and 8GB memory card. Solid web browsing experience.

The Bad Timescape needs refinement. Some performance lag. Not the latest version of Android. Standard smartphone battery life.

The Bottom Line Sony Ericsson expands on Android's excellent web browser with its huge 4-inch screen real estate and a first-class multimedia experience, but Timescape needs improvement.

7.8 Overall

After what seems like an eternity, the wait for the X10 is over. After leaks, and more leaks, beginning just short of a year ago, the X10 will finally be in the hot little hands of those who have waited so patiently. To be honest, we don't remember the last time a Sony Ericsson phone generated this much interest. Oh wait, actually we do, the original Xperia X1 had a year of hype behind it too, and it didn't end so well. Will Sony Ericsson's luck change for its first Android?

Big, beautiful, kinda touchy

Let's begin with the obvious, the X10 is a monster. Its 4-inch display even manages to make the HTC HD2 seem, well, regular in size somehow. Our review model is in lustrous black, and with its stainless trim and glossy display it looks and feels like a polished piece of obsidian as it slides in and out of a pocket. The back of the X10, the battery cover, is made from soft-touch plastic, and is emblazoned with a Sony Ericsson badge and the X10's 8-megapixel camera lens.

The 4-inch display, with its 800x480 WVGA resolution looks great, especially when showing off Sony Ericsson's Timescape and Mediascape 3D-animated applications. Unfortunately, the screen's touch sensitivity doesn't live up to its size or clarity. Typing with the on-screen keyboard requires more patience and accuracy than compared with the iPhoneor HTC Desire, as each keystroke has to be deliberate and reasonably slow or else letters in the words you type will be overlooked. We also found problems making selections around the edge of the screen where dragging down the Android notifications bar by mistake is a tiresome regularity. Scrolling can also be a bit tricky, with the X10 selecting an app or contact during a swiping motion.

Timescape – waste of time?

We positively drooled when we first saw the Timescape UI on YouTube — we actually dribbled a pool of saliva in our laps. For those who haven't seen Timescape, it is a stand-alone app that aggregates all of your recent call logs, SMS messages, email and photos, and adds two of our favourite social-networking tools into the mix, with dedicated "splines" for Twitter and Facebook. The result is columns of transparent 3D cards showing contact names and a nubbin of their message to you. Timescape can even be set as a total home screen takeover or a 2x2 home screen widget displaying the most recent entry.

This sounds like a great idea, and for some people this will be extremely useful we expect, but for us it was a clumsy, resource-hungry mess of data that is much better organised by dozens of free apps available on the Android Market. The 3D graphics are amongst the sexiest we've seen on a phone, but the X10's hardware struggles to render the cards efficiently, especially when it has to pull down dozens of Facebook and Twitter user profile pictures. It will work better if you restrict the "splines" to show local updates minus Facebook and Twitter, but then that defeats the purpose of Timescape altogether, doesn't it?

Timescape

Timescape: add a busy Twitter feed and things get messy.
(Credit: Sony Ericsson)

Mediascape is Sony Ericsson's take on a media player for Android, and it is much better. Compared to all previous media-playing apps on Android, Mediascape stands head and shoulders above the rest for its excellent looks and advanced functionality. Not only does Mediascape organise your music, videos, photos, etc in a clean and easy-to-read interface, but it will also search the web and pull in YouTube videos showing the bands in your playlist. While the X10 doesn't ship with more than 512MB of internal memory, Sony Ericsson does slip an 8GB microSDHC card into the box with the handset.

Where the X10 shines

So Timescape is a dud, but while this may seem like a major selling point of the X10, it really is only a single element of an otherwise sold smartphone package — an element you can easily switch off if you agree with our assessment. Without it you have a phone with an enormous screen, an excellent Webkit web browser, full connectivity options and a decent-enough 8-megapixel camera.

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