If you've followed Sony Ericsson's development roadmap like we have, then you'll know that the Xperia X1 represents a dramatic change in direction for a company that’s made many phones which look very similar to each other.
The Xperia X1 is different from anything Sony Ericsson has come up with before and hopefully signals a push towards a much more innovative future. Of course innovation can go wrong, but that's part of the risk. Read our review if you want to find out whether the gamble paid off.
You can get yourself a Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 for free on a monthly contract from Vodafone.
Similar to the HTC Touch Pro, the Xperia X1 features a touchscreen on the front and hidden underneath a full slide-out Qwerty keypad. Our review model came in a serious but attractive black casing that's made up of metal and plastic sections. It feels solid and could most likely take a few tumbles. Most of the X1's surfaces aside from the screen are matte which means you don't get fingerprints all over it.
The Xperia's touchscreen is very sharp and large enough to enjoy viewing emails and videos, but it's noticeably smaller than the iPho ne 3G's, which may bother you depending on what you use it for.
We found the X1's screen fairly responsive but not as responsive as the iPhone's when using a finger. It's made less finger-friendly due to the Windows Mobile's interface that regularly requires using a stylus to tap on smaller sections of the menu or texting interface, for example.
If navigating the touchscreen using your finger or the X1's stylus winds you up, then you can always use the four-way navigation key underneath the screen. Bizarrely, the navigation key features an optical sensor in the middle, which also doubles up as an OK button.
The optical sensor allows you to scroll through the X1's menu by simply stroking it and while it is useful at times, we found it made navigation over-complicated. Every time you inadvertently brush the sensor it can cause something to move on the screen which can get a bit annoying at times.
One of the X1's most exciting features is its slide-out Qwerty keypad that we were keen to test out. It slides out at a curved angle and boasts a backlight for use in the dark. There's no need for it to curve but several people remarked that it looks good.
We'd like to report that the X1's keypad delighted us but we found the keys a little too flat and ill-defined. You do get used to using it, but it's certainly not perfect. A better keypad would feature keys that were more raised in the middle so that you can feel them better as you're typing.
Something we did think was perfect about the X1's design is the built-in 3.5mm headphone jack, which lets you plug your standard headphones straight in -- a feature we want to see on more Sony Ericsson phones, in particular its Walkman range of phones.
The X1 comes laden with features all wrapped up in a Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional package. In order to get to some of these features Sony Ericsson has implemented a customisable 'panels' system.
Similar to HTC's TouchFLO 3D menu interface, the X1's on-screen panel system provides finger-friendly access to a variety of features via a menu that houses nine exchangeable panels. These panels act as shortcuts to a variety of different apps or services.
Once pressed a panel will change the homepage, for example, or give you access to the X1's FM radio or media files. According to Sony Ericsson, more panels will be added over time and you'll be able to download them straight to the X1 with relative ease.