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 a rare sight in the Android world.
In all fairness, Android doesn’t look as pretty on 320 x 240 pixels but this certainly isn’t 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 X10 for now. Timescape is an application that brings 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 by default but you can easily replace them if you see fit. The tiny Android is obviously short of hardware keys but they’re not badly missed.
The homescreen has also been affected by the resize. You are limited to widgets only – 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 isn’t limited so each time you add a widget a new screen appears. You can then rearrange the screens as you please.
Luckily, the 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, the thing starts flying.
The phonebook can store quite a lot of information. It lets you input numbers for work and home, but this time there are no custom labels. There is of course an email field and you can assign a custom ringtone.
You can add an IM nickname to the contact as well as a postal address, company and job title, several notes, you name it. Quite interesting is the option to redirect calls directly to voicemail.
When viewing a contact the various details are displayed in sections. Clicking a given number dials the contact while opting for the envelope icon next to it launches the message editor. Those two buttons fill an entire horizontal row so that they are more thumbable.