Thanks to Android 2.3 Gingerbread and the Adobe Flash 10.3 support, the Xperia mini’s web browser does a great job.
The user interface is pretty light at first sight. Once the page loads, all you see is the URL bar and the bookmark button on a line at the top of the screen. Once you zoom in or pan around though even that line disappears (scroll to the top or press menu to bring it back).
The 3-inch HVGA screen may sounds not enough, but we can assure you it is and you have all that 3 inches for web browsing. The Xperia mini's browser supports double tap and pinch zooming, along with the dedicated virtual zoom buttons.
The browser supports text reflow, but it works only with double tap – a moment after setting the zoom level just double tap on the display and the columns of text will align to fit the screen width. Without text reflow you will either have to zoom out until the text fits (but then it’s too small to read comfortably) or scroll sideways to read each line.
The minimalist UI is quite powerful – hit the menu key and six keys pop up. You can open a new tab, switch tabs, refresh the page, go forward, and open bookmarks. The final button reveals even more options (text copying, find on page, etc.).
The bookmark list shows a thumbnail of the bookmarked page and you also get a “most visited” list in addition to the history.
The web browser has full Flash support with the Adobe Flash 10.3 player (downloadable for free from the Market). YouTube videos played quite smoothly (360p), and so did the games from Kongregate, for example.
The high-quality videos on YouTube and other Flash video services had some (or lots of) dropped frames, but the overall Flash performance turned out pretty decent. The YouTube app is still there though, just in case.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini comes with a solid set of organizing options, including a document viewer.
The app in question is OfficeSuite and it has support for viewing document files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF, including the Office 2007 versions). For editing, you will need to get the paid app ($10).
Reading documents is quite comfortable despite the compact screen and panning is blazing fast.
The doc viewer integrates with the Gmail app, which makes viewing attachments a cinch. You can’t download them to the phone’s internal memory however. Attaching all kinds of files is possible though.
The calendar has four different types of view - daily, weekly, monthly and agenda view. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.
Agenda view shows a list of all the calendar entries from the recent past to the near future. It’s a very handy tool when you need to check your appointments for the next few days.
There is also a calculator aboard. It is nicely touch optimized - the buttons are really big and easy to hit.
The alarm clock app allows a huge number of alarms to be set, each with its own start and repeat time. Unfortunately, you don’t have the Stopwatch, Timer or World Clock options. You don’t get a Voice Recorder either.
But all of the applications missing on the Xperia mini can be downloaded for free off the Android Market in a matter of minutes, so it’s not a big deal really.
There are lots of icons in the in the main menu to mimic apps, but most of them are actually shortcuts to the web browser. The ones that do something are the Update Center - to check for updates from Sony Ericsson, NeoReader - a barcode scanner and Touchnote to create virtual postcards. That's pretty much all.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini comes with a GPS receiver, which locked onto satellites in about 3 minutes with A-GPS turned off.
Google Maps is the main application and its Street View mode is probably the best part of the deal in places where turn-by-turn voice navigation isn’t yet offered. If the Street View is available in the area you're interested in, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the area. Zoom is supported through pinch and double tap gestures. When the digital compass is turned on it feels like making a virtual tour of the surroundings!
Turn-by-turn voice guidance using Google Maps Navigation is only available in select countries and unless you live in one of them the best you can do is plan a route in advance and keep an eye on your current location during travel.
You get the Xperia mini with Maps 5 out of the box, which gives you access to some great features. Offline rerouting is one – if you stray off course, Maps will recalculate the route without the need for an Internet connection. You can’t change the destination without connection though. There are also 3D buildings (where available), two finger rotation, tilting and so on.
Depending on your region you may get the Xperia mini with Wisepilot navigation pre-installed, but you'll have to pay for it.