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Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro review: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro

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Kent German
Kent_German.jpg
Kent German Former senior managing editor / features

Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).

7 min read

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7.6

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro

The Good

The Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro offers a lot of features for its size. It has an attractive user interface and a comfortable keyboard.

The Bad

The Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro lacks camera-editing options, and its small size can hamper usability. It's stuck on Android 1.6, and its volume level is rather low.

The Bottom Line

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro is still too small for a full-fledged Android smartphone, but the added physical keyboard greatly improves usability.

Editors' note: Portions of this review were taken from our Xperia X10 Mini review since both phones share the same features. We will, however, detail the X10 Mini Pro's design and performance differences.

If you love the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, but can't find room for it in your pocket, Sony Ericsson has options for you. Back in February at the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the company introduced two handsets that cram the Android multimedia experience into a device that can get lost in your pocket. The X10 Mini Pro shares the same features as its X10 Mini sibling, but the added physical keyboard makes for a much easier typing experience. Performance is improved over the X10 Mini, though we'd still appreciate more call volume. The GSM X10 Mini Pro is only sold unlocked in the United States, so it will cost you more than a carrier-subsidized handset. Sony Ericsson isn't releasing pricing at the time, but online retailers are selling it for as low as $325.

Design
As with the X10 Mini, the most notable thing about the X10 Mini Pro is its diminutive size. Unlike almost every other smartphone on the planet, you can hide it behind a credit card, and if you have especially large mitts, you might be able to close your hand completely around it. At 3.3 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep, the X10 Mini Pro is slightly taller and thicker than its X10 Mini counterpart, but we'll gladly take the added bulk for a full keyboard. The X10 Mini Pro remains quite light (4.2 ounces), so you won't feel burdened carrying it around.


The X10 Mini is quite small, so we appreciate the physical keyboard.

The 2.5-inch display and Sony Ericsson's User Experience interface are unchanged from the other phone. As we said before, the display is fine for browsing through menus and most basic features, but it's too small for higher-end functions. As with the X10 Mini, some will appreciate the compact size, whereas others will want something beefier. It's really up to you. Unfortunately, the X10 Mini Pro remains stuck on Android 1.6 even months after 2.0's release.

Below the display you'll find the same physical controls for the home screen menu and the main menu, and for moving backward through a menu. You must dial calls using the standard virtual keypad, though you can bang out messages and e-mails much faster using the physical keyboard. As you'd expect, the keyboard is fairly small, but the keys manage to have a relatively comfortable, spacious feel. We could type quickly and we like the stiff feeling of the keys. You won't find any shortcut controls, and numbers share space with letters, but basic punctuation is surfaced on the keyboard. For other punctuation and symbols, you must access an onscreen virtual keyboard. The space bar is in a convenient location in the center of the bottom row.


You must dial using a virtual keypad.

The slider mechanism is neither too sturdy nor too loose. The camera lens and flash also rest on the middle of the back side with the microSD card slot behind the battery cover. The remaining exterior features differ somewhat from the X10. The power/screen lock switch and 3.5mm headset jack sit on the phone's top end, the camera shutter and volume rocker are on the right spine, and the Micro-USB port for data syncing and charging rests on the left spine.


The keyboard is small, but comfortable.

Features
The X10 Mini Pro's phonebook size is limited by the available memory. As on other Android phones, you can add multiple fields per contact, plus a photo and a ringtone. You can save contacts to groups and sync them with various Google services. Of course, you can sync the handset's calendar to your Gmail calendar after you register your Google account. You also can sync contacts and the calendar with the Sony Ericsson Sync service.

Besides Gmail and the usual text and multimedia messaging, the X10 Mini Pro is capable of syncing with POP3 and some IMAP4 accounts. It's disappointing, however, that as on the X10 we weren't able to add our CNET Outlook Web Access account (OWA) using the standard e-mail app. Instead, you must the included RoadSync app to get both your e-mail messages and calendar appointments. The experience might be better, but we'd appreciate a native app.

As you'd expect, the X10 Mini Pro features Sony Ericsson's Timescape feature, which displays your latest e-mails, text messages, and social media alerts (Facebook, Twitter) in a flowing design that resembles a stacked deck of cards. The concept is very similar to MotoBlur in that it combines all of your e-mails, messages, contacts, and their status updates into a steady stream of information. As we've said earlier, it can be a bit much, and it's even more overwhelming on a smaller display (see the X10 for more information).


The X10 Mini Pro's camera lens sits on its back side next to the flash.

Instead of the X10's 8-megapixel camera, the X10 Mini Pro offers a 5-megapixel shooter. We don't mind the resolution downgrade--5 megapixels is more than adequate on such a handset--but we are disturbed that Sony Ericsson removed most of the editing options. You can geotag photos, use the bright flash and autofocus, and select one of four image settings (auto, sports, twilight, and macro), but those are the only customization options available. Though we'd expected the smaller X10 Mini Pro to offer fewer features, we didn't foresee this much carnage. Also, vanity shots are tricky without a self-portrait mirror.

The handset has a camcorder, though editing options are equally minimal. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 10 seconds, but you can shoot for longer in normal mode. Once you're done playing photographer, you can check out your work in the easy-to-use gallery app. Photo quality is just average, which is about what we saw on the X10. Colors could have been richer, and images are a tad dim. The X10 Mini Pro offers 128MB of internal memory and the microSD slot fits cards up to 2GB.


We didn't love the Xperia X10 Mini Pro's photo quality.

Fortunately, Sony Ericsson gave the normal Android music player a slight, but much-needed, makeover. 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 Mini Pro right when we plugged it in. The handset also comes integrated with Sony Ericsson's PlayNow feature, a TrackID app, and an FM radio.

Other features on the X10 Mini Pro include a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a notepad, a full duplex speakerphone, a timer, and a stopwatch. The phone also has PC syncing, USB mass storage, A2DP stereo Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. The browser has a standard Android design, though it's more than tedious on such a small display. You can replace it with another browser, if you'd like.

Naturally, the X10 Mini Pro offers the full slate of Google applications like YouTube, Google Voice, and Google Talk. Google Maps offers the standard features, and Wisepilot brings real-time voice-guided directions. You'll also find a bar code reader, a Wikipedia app, and two games (Peggle and Edge). Of course, more apps and games are available through the Android Market. The integrated Facebook for Android app lets you access the service outside of Timescape.

Performance
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. The handset will work with both AT&T's and T-Mobile's GSM networks, but 3G data is available only through AT&T in the United States. You should have better luck abroad since the X10 Mini supports three UMTS/HSPA bands.

Call quality was quite decent, and a bit improved over the X10 Mini. There was a tiny amount of static at times and we had one failed connection, but on the whole we enjoyed clear conversations. Our callers' voices sounded natural and there was little side noise or interference. The volume was a bit low, so we had some trouble hearing in noisy places.

Callers reported few problems. The volume issue was apparent to them as well, and we had to speak loudly when calling from a busy street and from a large store with loudspeaker announcements. In quieter conditions, we had a better time. Callers could tell we were using a cell phone, but they didn't report any audio feedback.

Music quality is similar to the X10, though it's not quite as loud given the X10 Mini's smaller speaker. The quality is respectable, though it gets distorted the higher you go. We recommend headphones for the best experience.

The X10 Mini Pro has a 600Mhz processor, so expect a slower experience than the 1GHz-powered Xperia X10. Yet, the change isn't dramatic, as we were able to perform most functions quickly. And in any case, the downgrade is understandable on a smaller and cheaper phone.

The X10 Mini Pro has a rated battery life of 4 hours 2G talk time and 3.5 hours 3G talk time. Promised standby time is 15 days. We had a tested talk time of 3 hours and 49 minutes. According to FCC radiation charts, the X10 Mini Pro has a digital SAR of 1.55 watts per kilogram.

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7.6

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7
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