The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini runs version 1.6 of the Android platform just like the rest of the X10 gang. There is nothing out of the ordinary but what makes the mini special is the QVGA resolution which is pretty rare on Android.
In all fairness, Android doesnít look as pretty on 320 x 240 pixels but this certainly isnít a deal breaker. Sony Ericsson have done a good job of customizing the interface and making the icons large enough, given the limited screen estate.
They have opted for more screens rather than downsizing the tiles, which, even if a bit slower, is the more comfortable option.
The XPERIA X10 mini packs the Timescape UI plug-in but lacks the Mediascape that is only reserved for its full-grown sibling for now. In fact, Timescape is a separate application but its job is to bring all your communications together. It always displays an aggregated view of your SMS, MMS, email, missed calls, Facebook and Twitter updates all on one screen. It also has a large number of tabs that can filter the content by type.
As we already mentioned, Sony Ericsson have managed to make best use of the limited screen estate by adding large thumbable shortcuts at the four corners of the homescreen. Those lead to the message composer, music player, phonebook and dial pad/call log. The tiny Android is obviously short of hardware keys but theyíre not badly missed.
The homescreen has also been affected by the size factor. You are limited to widgets only Ė no shortcuts or folders are allowed and you can only add one widget per screen.
On the other hand, the number of available homescreen panes isnít limited so each time you add a widget a new screen appears. You can then rearrange the screens as you please.
Luckily, Sony Ericsson R&D have found enough space for the notification area, which we consider to be one of the best Android features. It's a thin bar at the top of the screen with status info about battery, signal strength and others such as Bluetooth or missed events. Sliding it down however reveals the whole story - you get a list of all recent notifications.
To bring up the task switcher on the X10 mini you press and hold the Home key just like on any other Android phone. It gives you access to the six most recently used apps although, due to the specific operation of the operating system, some of them might be hibernating rather than actually running in the background.
Now, the actual performance is surely where the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini is nothing short of impressive. Regular HVGA resolution and a 528 MHz CPU that most other droids use surely ensures a decently smooth Android run. But when you cut the number of pixels in half and crank up the clock speed a bit and, the thing starts flying.
The SMS and MMS messaging section is quite straightforward and simple at first glance - there are no folders here, just a new message button. It doesn't stay like that for long - under that button is a list of all your messages organized into threads.
When viewing a thread, the newest message is placed at the bottom. At the bottom of the display is the tap-to-compose box and the send key, of course. There is a counter on the right which is displayed once you have 16 or fewer characters remaining of the 160 limit. It also shows the number of parts the message will be split into for sending.
Converting an SMS to MMS is logical and easy. When you add multimedia content to the message, it is automatically turned into an MMS. You can just add a photo or an audio file to go with the text or you can choose to go into a full-blown MMS editor, depending on your needs.
Moving onto email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted.
There is also a standard email app for all your other email accounts and it can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.
And by the way, the folders are organized in a tree structure - one click over a specific folder reveals its contents and the second click closes it.
Google Talk handles the Instant Messaging department. The G-Talk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.
Quite naturally, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini isnít the heavy textersí choice. The software is just fine, but with the limited text input options long messaging sessions are out of the question.
With the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini you are limited to a standard multitap keypad and given the available screen estate we donít think a virtual QWERTY would have made any sense. Not on a capacitive screen anyway, where stylus is a no go.
In any case, the X10 mini pro should be the choice for those that actually do more than an occasional SMS on their phones.