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Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (AT&T) review: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (AT&T)

On the other hand, Timescape can be a bit much. Yes, we said this when we first saw MotoBlur on the Cliq, but the X10's busier design makes it even more overwhelming. For example, when you switch between the different feeds, the old tiles fly out to one side and the new tiles fly in from the other. It's rather like you were playing a game of poker and a disgruntled opponent took the playing cards and threw them in the air. The effect is exciting the first few times, but then it just gets a bit disorienting.

Contacts and calendar
Like with other Android phones, you can sync your Gmail contacts instantly. The size of the X10's phone book is limited by the available memory, but each entry can store multiple fields for phone numbers, street addresses, work information, e-mails, URLs, instant-messaging handles, nicknames, and notes. You also can add a photo and see a friend's Facebook and Twitter status if he or she has an account with either service. But the X10 doesn't stop there. When viewing an individual contact, you can see the call log between you and that person and a list of all text messages. That's a nice touch.

The calendar app has the UXP skin, but it still has the basic Android design. Of course, you can sync with your Gmail calendar after you register your Google account. If you don't have a Google account, you can create one right on the phone. You also can sync contacts and the calendar with the Sony Ericsson Sync service. Unfortunately, the X10 doesn't offer direct Outlook calendar, notes, and contacts syncing. Instead you must use a third-party app that comes preinstalled on the phone. It works well enough, but we'd prefer not going through a middleman.

E-mail and messaging
Besides Gmail and the usual text and multimedia messaging, the X10 is capable of syncing with other POP3 accounts. But like with some other Android phones, we weren't able use the easy setup method to add Yahoo accounts. We were successful when we used the manual setup, but that requires you to know information like the incoming and outgoing server settings. And if you need more ways to communicate, there's a dedicated instant messaging app.

For corporate e-mail, AT&T's X10a comes with an integrated Work E-mail application from FutureDial. At first, we didn't understand why Sony Ericsson used a third-party solution for Outlook mail rather than using the Android's standard e-mail app. On closer inspection, however, we approve of the move. Work E-mail performs quite well and we had no trouble syncing our Outlook Web Access account. It offers a wealth of features including two-way syncing for calendar, contacts, e-mail, and tasks. You can't sync notes, but that's an omission we've seen on other smartphones. IT departments can use remote wipe, and the app offers Global Address list access. For other Android phones, that feature is available only through Froyo.

The X10 has an 8.1-megapixel camera. You can take pictures in four resolutions and choose from a variety of "scene" modes (night, portrait, landscape, etc.). Other camera options include face detection, autofocus, a macro setting, a flash, a photo light, a self-timer, four white-balance settings, spot metering, an image stabilizer, geotagging, a brightness meter, smile detection, and a digital zoom. There's almost no shutter lag if you press the control firmly.

The X10's flash and camera lens sit on its back side.

Photo quality is decent, though not a sharp as we'd like. Photos were rather dim so you should use the flash whenever you don't have optimal lighting. There also was a bit of image noise. When you're done shooting, you can transfer your photos off the phone or store them on the handset's internal memory. You get a very respectable 1GB of shared space and the X10 will accommodate microSD cards up to 16GB (an 8GB card comes with the phone). And for viewing stored photos, we like the "filmstrip" interface.

The X10 offers acceptable photo quality.

The camcorder shoots clips in five resolutions including a wide VGA and a format for uploading to YouTube. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 14 seconds, but you can shoot for longer in standard mode. Editing options are similar to the still camera. Video quality is fine, but not amazing.

The music player is accessed through the X1's Mediascape app. Similar to Timescape, Mediascape displays your photos, videos, and music tracks in one convenient place. The infinity feature also works here, though it shows all the photos and videos shot on the same day and all music tracks by a single artist. The interface is attractive and easy to use, and a bit less busy than Timescape.

The music player is improved over other Android phones. It displays album art and you can access shuffle and repeat modes, set favorites, send the track in a message, and designate a track as a ringtone. Loading music on the phone is quite easy whether you're using a USB cable or a memory card. Thanks to Android's efficient USB transfer/storage and PC syncing support, our PC recognized the X10 right when we plugged it in. Music quality is admirable. The external speaker gets loud enough, but the sound gets distorted the higher you go. We recommend headphones for the best experience.

Google and other features
The X10 includes a calculator, a full duplex speakerphone, GPS, A2DP stereo Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. A helpful electronic user guide is accessible through the main menu, and we're thrilled that the X10 has an OfficeSuite file manager. The browser has a standard Android design, and you can replace it with another browser, if you'd like. Voice dialing is onboard as well, but keep in mind you need Froyo to get hands-free dialing with Bluetooth devices.

You'll find the full slate of Google applications like YouTube, and Google Talk. Google Maps offers the standard features, plus a variety of map layers (traffic, transit lines, etc.), a link to Wikipedia, and Google Latitude. Outside of Google, the X10 comes integrated with MobiTV, a calculator, a dedicated Facebook app, a Mobile Banking service, Yellow Pages Mobile, and Where Mobile. Of course, you can get more titles and games through the Android Market.

AT&T also puts its own stamp on the phone with a number of carrier-specific applications. You'll find AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Hot Spots for finding Wi-Fi locations, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Maps, AT&T Mobile Video, and AT&T Radio.

Thanks to the X10's 1Ghz Snapdragon processor, the handset is very fast. There was no lag when opening most applications, accessing menus, and pulling up the main menu from the home screen. The Timescape feature can take up to 4 seconds to get started, but that's to be expected on such a graphics-heavy app.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was no different from the unlocked version, which is to say it's generally admirable. The signal was strong and clear, the volume was loud, and voices sounded natural. At the higher volumes there was a slight audible hiss on some calls, but it wasn't a big problem.

On their end, callers said we sounded fine. Most could tell we were using a cell phone, but we didn't get many complaints outside of the hiss that we also heard. A couple of our friends said that unless we spoke directly into the microphone they had trouble hearing us when we were in noisy places. As such, the X10 has a sensitive sweet spot. Speakerphone calls were quite good with loud volume and little audio distortion. We also had a good experience with a Bluetooth headset.

Fortunately, the AT&T offered faster data performance than the unlocked model. It still wasn't as zippy as most of the Android handsets from Sprint and Verizon, but busy Web sites like opened in about 30 seconds. Cleaner sites won't take as long, but some sites with more graphics may require more time. Also, Timescape appears to suck a lot of the phone's energy so we were glad that you can set the frequency of Timescape updates. The X10 supports worldwide 3G bands (UMTS/HSPA 850/1800 in North America), so it is compatible with AT&T networks.

The X10 has a rated battery life of 10 hours 2G talk time and 8 hours 3G talk time. Promised standby time is 17.7 days. In our tests, we had a talk time of 9 hours and 2 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the X10 has a digital SAR of 1.43 watts per kilogram.

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