Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 preview: First look
XPERIA Panels reloaded
As Sony Ericsson have not gone for customizing the whole Windows UI, it's got a more vanilla look here as compared to what you can see on Samsung or HTC smartphones. Sony Ericsson on the other hand have concentrated on developing the the XPERIA Panels UI and have put quite some efforts on their tight integration with the mobile OS.
There is no dedicated panels' hardware button as it was in the XPERIA X1. Instead there is a shortcut to a new Shortcuts menu. The menu is a really nice and touch optimized list, which reminds both of the the popular Sony Ericsson Media center as well as the Windows Mobile default homescreen.
The menu includes five sections - Call history, Messages, Calendar, Media and Panels - each one with numerous subsections. The Media part will be very familiar with all Sony Ericsson users. It collects all your pictures, music, videos and games, packing its own gallery, music and video players.
But the amazingly nice custom menu is quite shallow at places and when you start a new message or open a whole email, you are thrown back to the not so pretty Windows Mobile interface.
The XPERIA panels is the last section in this menu and logically collects all the panels you have installed and allows you to browse them with finger sweeps. The panels can be configured in a timeline switching automatically at user-defined hours for a user-defined period of time.
The XPERIA X2 comes with 9 panels preinstalled - the default Sony Ericsson Tilewave one, CNN, Facebook, Google panel, Growing Panel, WinMo default Today screen, SPB Mobile Shell, and Pixel City.
The CNN, Facebook and Google panels offer quick access to news, the Facebook application and the Google Search and bring nothing interesting, while the MS Today screen we already discussed in the Windows Mobile 6.5 part of the preview.
The Growing panel is similar to the old Fish one - there are some bugs and flowers, which indicate different statuses - missed calls, battery level, signal strength, etc. The Pixel City panel does just the same.
The Tilwave panel is the default of the bunch and displays flopping 3D squares, some of them empty - some of the with specific function - the weather, clock, alarms, RSS reader, a shortcut to Contacts, etc. Choosing any one of them will lead you to another similar field of squares. The effects are nice and eye-catching and it successfully combines the beauty and the functionality without compromises.
The last preinstalled panel is the nice SPB Mobile Shell. That panel was also available for download for the XPERIA X1, but Sony Ericsson have preinstalled it on the X2.
It has two different views - a lifestyle and a professional one. The lifestyle combines three different homescreens where you can put a lot of widgets. The beautiful wallpaper is easily seen through the transparent widgets. The professional view of the panel looks like an older version of the SPB Shell - clock, new events and calendar.
The alternative phonebook is top-notch
The phonebook, favorite contacts and the calls log shares one window in a tabbed interface. All of them are touch optimized, have small thumbs and use big enough font. There is letter-by-letter scrolling thanks to the alphabetical column on the right. There's an option to start the dialpad straight from here - it comes with Smart Dialing and works great.
While there is this whole new phonebook and calls log, we just can't understand why there are still places throughout the X2 interface that redirect to the regular WinMo one. We hope Sony Ericsson will fix this in the final product or that will make their nice customizing job pointless.