Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 review: A new experience

GSMArena team, 23 December 2008.
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Big box - modest packing

There's nothing inside the Sony Ericsson XPERIA retail box to bring huge cheers. Apart from the shining beast that is, which is the first thing to notice as you lift the lid.

Beneath you'll find the charger/data cable combo, an extra stylus, two-piece headset - 3.5mm on either end, CD with sync software and a bunch of manuals and leaflets. There is also a microSD card provided, but its capacity - and even actual availability - is market dependent. Unluckily there was no screen protector or carrying case.


Unboxing the XPERIA

Sony Ericsson XPERIA 360-degree spin

The XPERIA measures 110.5 x 52.6 x 17 mm, and two major differences emerge upon an inevitable comparison with HTC Touch Pro. Notably taller, the XPERIA does get a more elegant stance and the effect is reinforced by the friendlier weight. While both are hefty gadgets, the 145g of XPERIA do sound - and feel - a whole lot more welcoming.

Design and construction

The metallic finish also does its bit to give Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 a more sophisticated look and feel compared to the stepbrother HTC Touch Pro.

We happen to be quite fond of the XPERIA looks. The phone looks pretty good in both color versions (Solid Black and Steel Silver) though we still tend to slightly favor the black one for its commanding charisma.

Most of the front of Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 is taken by the large 3" touch screen. The front frame and the battery cover are made from stainless steel and don't attract finger prints at all. The rest of the body is made of solid looking plastic, chrome finish on the edges.


Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1

Right above the display we find the slim earpiece, symmetrically accommodating the ambient light sensor and secondary videocall camera on each side.

Beneath the screen, the X-styled navigation deck catches the eye. Not only are the keys molded accordingly, but the borders between them backlight in solid white to form two prominent X patterns.

The usual suspects are all there - two dedicated call keys and a pair of soft keys and, of course, a D-pad with a confirming center that doubles as an optical trackpad.

The last two controls here are the X-PANEL key and OK knob. What may seem as inadequate real estate for a crowded navigation deck actually works quite fine. Most of the controls offering pleasing ergonomics and functionality. We would've liked a more distinct press in the Call and End keys but it isn't such a big deal.


XPERIA X1 earpiece and navigation deck

Our biggest concern is the Up key on the D-pad. It is the least projecting bit of the 5-way key, a proper press unpleasantly obstructed by the upper end of the black plastic panel. Its rigidity and low stroke are utterly inconsistent with the rest of the D-pad sides, which are ample and tactile.

The confirming center is also quite friendly - pleasingly soft to the touch but still offering a remarkably distinct press. The optical trackpad is pretty responsive and 5 sensitivity levels make sure everyone will find their favorite setting.

The QWERTY keyboard is one of the most notable differences between the XPERIA and the Touch Pro. The giant Space and Enter keys on the XPERIA may initially impress you but it takes only a couple of minutes to conclude that the 5-row QWERTY keypad on the Touch Pro is the more typing-friendly solution.

The keys on the XPERIA are aligned diagonally, as opposed to the straight layout in the Touch Pro. The size, shape and tactility of the XPERIA keys are quite alright but the shorter slider run has taken its toll and the four QWERTY rows are no match for the Touch Pro keypad. The insufficient headroom for the upper row of keys puts the XPERIA to a definite disadvantage.

Still, the better viewing angle of the screen - when typing on the QWERTY keyboard - sure is an asset, which XPERIA owes to the arc slider form factor. Plus, the actual sliding action is smoother than the Touch Pro. Upon opening the keypad, the screen of course automatically rotates to landscape.


The QWERTY keyboard is OK, but still short of the HTC Touch Pro

The right side hosts the volume rocker at the top and the shutter key all the way down. They are quite comfortable and well integrated with the overall design. Though quite slim, the camera key is pleasingly responsive, with a distinct half press. The volume rocker doubles as zoom lever.

For your convenience, the shutter key is symmetrically replicated by a small recess on the left side, which in shooting mode serves as a comfortable thumb rest. All the way up on that left side is the miniUSB port that is also used for charging the handset.


XPERIA X1 volume and camera controls

XPERIA X1 has a very elegant eyelet on its bottom for attaching different accessories or a wrist strap. It makes attaching stuff very easy, and is discrete enough if you decide not to use it.


XPERIA X1 lanyard eyelet

The top of Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 features the power button, 3.5 mm standard audio jack and the stylus compartment. Unlike the HTC Touch Pro, there is no magnetic action with the XPERIA X1 - you have to push or pull it out manually - and the stylus isn't active.

Finally there are four status LEDs along the sides of the handset. The upper pair twinkles in red for errors and empty battery while the purple blinks of the lower ones are triggered by a number of applications.


Stylus, power button and 3.5mm audio jack

Under the rear cover of the XPERIA X1 lies an impressive 1500mAh Li-Ion battery that powers the Sony Ericsson PocketPC. We pushed the phone to its limits and it held for two days of severe torture on a single charge. Not bad, and a point scored against the Touch Pro.

The other thing under the rear cover is the microSD card slot. This surely isn't the most comfortable place since you need to remove the cover every time you need to replace your memory card. At least the memory card is still fully hot-swappable.

The 3.2 megapixel snapper and the LED flash are at the top of the rear, placed within a black nest of hexagonal shape.


Battery, SIM and microSD slot location • camera lens

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