Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 preview: First look
XPERIA X2 display is a mixed thing
The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 packs a 3.2 inch touchscreen with a WVGA resolution. The only difference with the X1 is the added 0.2 inches in diagonal. That's a good start as X1 display was too small for the high resolution it offered and it was hard to operate the small items ion the screen with your thumb.
That being said, the X2 display is nicely thumbable with the added improvement of the enhanced interface of Windows Mobile 6.5. The sunlight legibility has also improved a bit.
The resistive nature of the display however is a drawback. X2 is a device that needs a stylus to put it in a full throttle mode.
The good thing is that it's not recessed anymore and tapping the controls in the extreme corners (such as the on-screen OK button the in the top right corner) is no longer a problem even for larger fingers.
Both the display and keyboard backlighting in the dark are very good, but this shouldn't surprise as we didn't expect any less than that.
Windows Mobile 6.5 is a little less messy
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 runs Windows Mobile 6.5 by default. We already discussed the changes in our Samsung Omnia II review, but let's make a quick flashback and go through the new features one more time.
Visually, Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrades the old-school ver. 6.1 with a brand-new and much prettier homescreen. It also exchanges the Start menu for a regular "main menu", which displays all your applications and links to system functions in a honeycomb grid.
Other visual enhancements include the addition of ClearType font rendering as seen on desktop Windows rigs and the ability to scroll through tabbed windows with a sweep across screen. Context menus have now gotten more thumble, there's kinetic scrolling, which works just as on the iPhone, and finally, there are some overall prettier graphics here an there.
You probably know from all those screenshots that have appeared online that the default WinMo 6.5 homescreen consists of a scrollable list. What you may not know, unless you've watched a bunch of demo videos, is that some items of that list are in fact side-scrollable.
By scrolling sideways you gain access to different phone features from one single item. For example scrolling the Getting started item sideways allows you to set the clock, email account, device password, Bluetooth, custom wallpaper, custom ringtone, upload music or finally even remove the Getting started item for good once you're ready setting up the essentials.
Another example is is Pictures, which allows you to browse the thumbnails of the photos in your gallery by side sweeps. Touching a photo opens it fullscreen in the photo album.
Pressing the Start menu icon at the top right no longer opens a drop down menu full of shortcuts. Instead it opens what we like to call the new Windows Mobile "Main menu". It's got icons ordered in that oh-so-popular honeycomb pattern that so many people can easily recognize as pure WinMo 6.5 stuff thanks to numerous official and leaked screenshots.
In the new main menu you've got all the installed programs plus shortcuts to the settings menu. That Settings menu has also received a facelift and displays icons in the same honeycomb structure.
The perfectly flat structure of the Main menu can surely get a bit clumsy in time due to the huge number of icons piling up (iPhone users with loads of apps installed will know what we mean) but still we'd prefer that over the confusing experience that so many Widows Mobile new adopters have enjoyed in the past.
The response of Windows Mobile 6.5 as presented by XPERIA X2 is not that good as we expected from the latest high-end smartphone of the company. There are noticeable and annoying lags at times, not to mention that scrolling in the new Windows "main menu" causes some visible screen re-rendering stutter as you move up and down. It seems the graphics subsytem needs tweaking or plainly put - more processing power. Perhaps that's understandable as only now did we find out that the XPERIA X2 runs on the same CPU as the X1.
The 0.2 inch bigger screen definitely makes a difference from the previous X1, but can't deliver the desirable experience - at least at this stage of development. The stylus is still needed for some buttons and items which are not quite touch optimized. The Samsung Omnia II that we had for a review was way more responsive and had commendable performance.