Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro review: No small affair

GSMArena team, 24 August 2011.
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Big box, standard kit

The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro comes in quite a big box but the contents are nothing out of the usual. A microUSB cable, a charger and a standard single-piece handset is all you get. There are a few leaflets too, while the 2GB microSD card is already inserted in the phone.

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The Xperia mini pro retail package

Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro 360-degree spin

The Xperia mini pro has almost the same size as its predecessor; it's barely a couple of millimeters in each direction. At 92 x 53 x 18 mm, this is still among the smallest QWERTY messengers. It seems the upgrades have added a bit of weight though. The new model weighs 136 g, up from 120, but no big deal compared to what you get.

Design and construction

The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro has the look and feel of its Xperia X10 predecessor: a small, pocket-friendly messenger that offers a lot for its size and price. Some clever use of space and there's suddenly room for a 3" screen in what's virtually the same package.

We're having the pleasure of a white Xperia mini pro. It's entirely made of plastic: the battery cover has glossy finish that usually gets all smudged up in no time, but fingerprints are nearly invisible on the white paint. Those are inevitable on the screen of course.

There's little in the way of embellishments, which the white body seems to do well without. Two silver strips on both sides of the Xperia mini pro are the most conspicuous accents. The Home key up front and the QWERTY deck have the same trimming. The phone looks good in a simple, fresh way.

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Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro

The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro has a 3” HVGA touchscreen – a scaled-down version of the so-called Reality display in the Arc and Neo. It's been scaled down both in size and resolution, but still a notable improvement from the original 2.55" QVGA display.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
LG Optimus Black P970 0.27 332 1228 0.65 749 1161
Nokia X7 0 365 0 630
Motorola Atrix 4G 0.48 314 652 0.60 598 991
Apple iPhone 4 0.14 189 1341 0.39 483 1242
HTC Sensation 0.21 173 809 0.61 438 720
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S 0 263 0 395
Samsung I9001 Galaxy S Plus 0 251 0 408
Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc 0.03 34 1078 0.33 394 1207
Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro 0.57 346 609 0.9 641 714
LG Optimus 2X 0.23 228 982 0.35 347 1001
HTC Incredible S 0.18 162 908 0.31 275 880

The LED-backlit LCD unit is enhanced by Sony’s proprietary Bravia Mobile Engine. The display produces really nice colors, has decent contrast but the viewing angles are limited. There's considerable loss of color when viewing at an angle. What we were impressed with is the excellent sunlight legibility.

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The small Reality display is excellent

The capacitive screen has excellent sensitivity. The slightest of touches will do for user input to be registered.

Below the display is the usual trio of hardware controls. The difference to the last year's model is the Menu and Back keys are capacitive, with a single hardware control in the Home key. Quite surprisingly, the new Xperia mini pro has managed to both increase screen size and get better controls. The Home button has good press, while the capacitive controls are well-defined, nicely backlit and haptic enabled. All are very comfortable to use.

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There are three keys at the bottom of the front panel

Above the display, we find a status LED, the earpiece, the proximity and the ambient light sensors plus the video-call camera. The proximity sensor disables the display during calls.

There's both manual and auto display brightness setting and the ambient light sensor is doing a good job of adjusting to the available lighting.

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The earpiece is flanked by the status led, two sensors and the video-call camera

The left side of the Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro is completely bare. The only thing to notice here is a small slit to use and pull the battery cover open.

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The empty left side

On the right-hand side, things have stayed the same as before: the volume rocker on top and a shutter key at the bottom. The volume rocker is reasonably comfortable, the up and down keys are prominent and solid to press. The shutter key is super soft, with very deep half press. We liked it. .

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The camera key and the volume rocker are on the right

On top of the handset is the power/lock key. It’s a bit small but easy to reach and press. The other things to find there are a microUSB port, the 3.5mm audio jack and the secondary microphone used for noise cancelation.

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The screen lock key is right next to the Xperia mini pro peculiar audio jack

The bottom of the Xperia mini pro features the lanyard eyelet only. The microphone pinhole is on the QWERTY keyboard near the bottom of the phone.

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The lanyard eyelet is at the bottom • the microphone pinhole is on the kyeboard

No more teasing, let’s slide the Xperia mini pro open and reveal its key feature: the four-row QWERTY keyboard. Just like its predecessor, the mini pro’s keyboard is reasonably sized and does a wonderful job unless you have really big fingers.

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The keyboard is awesome if your fingers aren’t too big

There is enough space between the keys and the press feedback is good. There's something about this keyboard we liked better than the original X10 mini pro. Maybe the keys are a bit more prominent, or the finish is different - making them more tactile. Anyway, there's nothing in this keyboard to complain about. Of course, the size is something to consider - you'd do well to try this messenger to make sure it's a fit.

The back of the Xperia mini pro features the 5 megapixel camera lens and the LED flash. The loudspeaker also goes in here, slightly to the right.

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The 5 megapixel camera is joined by the LED flash and the loudspeaker at the back

Removing the battery cover reveals the hot-swappable microSD card slot and the SIM compartment.

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Taking a peek under the cover

The 1200mAh battery is said to ideally last 340 hours of standby and 5 hours and 25 minutes of talk time in a 3G network. In reality, the Xperia mini pro managed over 3 days in stand-by, connected to a Wi-Fi network most of the time. When we really put it under pressure though, the phone barely lasted a day. It was always connected to both the 3G and Wi-Fi networks, we did heavy browsing, music and video playback, and the usual benchmarks.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro is comfortable to handle and fits every pocket. There isn't a more compact messenger currently on the market. The Xperia mini pro is a well-built handset, with high quality, albeit plastic, finish. The slider runs sharp and even, no wobbles and such. The mini pro lives up to its name, efficient and a pleasure to use.

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Handling the Xperia mini pro

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