The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 sports an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash capable of taking photos at a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. We never expected the Eclair update to have some too great effect on the still shots and we were right.
The camera was pretty decent to start with and we didn’t see any reason for messing around with it in the first place. The Cybershot-inspired interface is reasonably comfortable offering five icons on the left - capturing mode, resolution, scenes, focus mode and camcorder switch. On the opposite you can set the exposure compensation and go to the camera album.
The camera interface puts the most frequently used options on the viewfinder so they’re a touch away (they can be hidden of course), but to get to the rest you need the extended settings menu. It includes options like geotagging, image stabilization, self-timer, even “smile level” to tweak the sensitivity of the smile detection.
Unfortunately the only thing that was wrong with the UI before the update is still present here - the LED flash needs to be turned on manually each time you need it and that setting is buried into the extended settings menu.
The other things we are not particularly fond of is the noticeable lag when rotating the camera interface. The moment you tilt the phone the camera UI flips to another orientation, and unfortunately, it takes at least two seconds each time. So much for catching the moment.
The image quality has remained pretty good with good detail and colors. The noise-suppression is probably a little too aggressive for our liking and the contrast could be increased but none of those are too bad.
Now here’s the big upgrade – the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 got cool HD video recording @24fps with continuous autofocus after the update. This has more than twice the resolution of the FWVGA videos that were available before that so it’s certainly worth some attention.
This is also only the second (after the Sony Ericsson Vivaz) HD-capable cameraphone to pack continuous autofocus in video mode. It’s efficiency is a whole other question of course as picking the correct object to focus on at all times is a task hard enough even for dedicated camcorders, let alone mobile phones.
Still we like it better this way than no autofocus and kudos to Sony Ericsson for incorporating it. Here's a video to show you how fast it adjusts.
It may take the X10 a few seconds to refocus after you reframe, but unless it’s very rapid action you are trying to capture (and cameraphones aren’t particularly good at that anyway) this won’t bother you too much.
The promised framerate is 24 fps and the handset delivers it nicely. There is an interesting trick Sony Ericsson use to achieve this – when there’s more action in your viewfinder putting a strain on the processing capabilities, the camera simply lowers the quality, instead of reducing the framerate. The result is a smoother video that has less detail, instead of a more detailed but jerkier one.
Videos are captured in MP4 format with AAC audio. Check out a couple of HD samples that we captured with our test unit.
One more - a 720p video sample from our new test setup. Pay attention to the second half of the video where we lower the light to show you how the the camcorder performs in more challenging conditions.
An here's an untouched sample, straight from the handset for you to download.
The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 was also included in our Video Compare Tool database. Check it out – the tool’s page includes a quick walkthrough on how to use it and what to look for.
So where does the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 stand after the update? It didn’t quite manage to take over at the top of the smartphone food chain, but to be honest we never actually expected it to. One year is a really long time in this business and understandably competitors haven’t been standing still.
However not coming straight from the R&D labs brings a huge pricing advantage to the X10. Indeed it can be found for nearly half the Desire HD price, which makes it a pretty decent bargain.
With Eclair virtually all the functionality is already there and compatibility with Android Market apps has been expanded greatly. The performance also takes a great leap forward and while it’s still not at Froyo levels, it’s good enough not to be bothering.
So as a result you get a device that won’t give you bragging rights but will give you all that it promises and throw in a few nice surprises on top (particularly for video enthusiasts and social network lovers). Sounds like a package that’s good enough for us.