The cell phone supports most of the standard networks such as GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, HSDPA 850/1900/2100. Its size is 110.5 by 52.5 by 17 mm. The weight is only 145 grams and the screen is TFT 65K with 800 by 480 pixels, about 3 inch. The cell phone does supports GPRS, WAP, and EDGE. It does not have infrared feature but the cell phone got Bluetooth 2.0. The cell phone has an internal memory of 400 MB.
By golly, could this really be it? Excuse the theatrics but it has been a very long time since the Sony Xperia X1’s unveiling in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress 2008. Considering that this is Sony Ericsson’s first attempt at a Windows Mobile smartphone, should I cut them some slack? I consider the phone as a better phone than any other cell phones out there offered in some prepaid cell phone plans.
What caught my attention was its gorgeous body. Despite being thicker than most normal cell hones, the X1 has a somewhat average bulk when compared to other Windows Mobile cell phones. At 145 grams it felt pretty solid in my hand and not that brick-like and the closest cell phone in build and size to it would be the HTC Touch Pro.
The Sony Xperia has a similar optical mouse found on the Omnia but I found it to be very erratic and moody. It worked well when used to scroll web pages but was pretty mediocre in general as I found that it tends to overshoot its target.
What drew me to the Sony Xperia X1 however was its screen. The screen looked great with its WVGA resolution and the navigation pad on the front is rather tactile. However the chrome-like QWERTY keyboard feels flat despite having some slight accents to it. For starters the top row of the keyboard was simply too close to the edge and the curved design which we initially thought would help, it did not. However I did love its backlit keys, I mean after all who does not like backlit keyboards?
The Sony Xperia X1 panels or rather X panel is Sony Ericsson’s touch interface application for the X1, much like the Touch Flo interface is for the HTC cell phones. My review unit had six panels which were supposed to replace the boring WinMo Home screen. I personally found most of it uninteresting except the fish pond and Google panels. The fish panel is just a simple clock with three fishes that will swim to wherever your finger is on the screen and the Google panel is basically a shortcut application for web searches. The rest of the panels however were more multimedia related.
Maybe it is a little too early to really give a full opinion on Sony Ericsson’s X1 panel implementation as the SDK has only been released. After all at print time only a Facebook and Windows Live panel had been released and downloadable from the manufacturer’s website.
On paper the 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7200 processor and 256MB of RAM looked like it would have been able to handle WInMo’s notorious resource issues. Well unfortunately for our unit it did not. Lags were aplenty and even a simple task like pressing ok and exit took a while which was not exactly a good sign. I ended up rebooting the cell phone quite often in order to get it to work more efficiently. Of course after rebooting, it would behave for awhile then the whole process repeats itself.
There is a silver lining of course. At times when the cell phone did not slow down, I did find that overall process of using the cell phone pretty ok and you do get the full Windows Mobile experience that you would expect from a cell phone like Xperia X1. I don’t know if the lag issues are due to the unit we have being a prototype or maybe even a firmware issue.
Windows Mobile 6.1 comes with push email, MS Office, Google Maps, Windows Live, Adobe Reader LE and so on. Email and contacts sync is pretty efficient here considering the cell phones native compatibility with Microsoft Windows. One of the more interesting applications is the Opera Mobile 9.5 which is way better equipped for browsing. As expected, Opera is not the default browser and any links you access from emails and other programs will only launch Pocket Internet Explorer.
The only downside for a Windows Mobile 6.1 device is that there is not much third party application to choose from. In fact some third party applications only work with a specific device. To ease your suffering somewhat, there is an online store of sorts preinstalled by Handango. Known as Handango InHand, it allows you to purchase software from them and its shortcut is embedded into the default home page in Opera and Pocket Internet Explorer.
I have neve found GPS on a cell phone particularly awe-inspiring but the Sony Xperia X1 cell phone surprised me with a fast loading Google Maps. In terms of locking on to satellite signals, X1 is just like any other cell phone. My test in the outdoor gave faster locks when compared to indoors and in areas with high building, results were a bit more varied.
Located at the back of the cell phone is the 3.2 mega pixel camera and I found it odd that Sony Ericsson did not decide to give the X1 cell phone a five mega pixel CCD instead. At least it would have put it in a better position against the onslaughts from Nokia and Samsung.
That aside, the Sony Ericsson X1 cell phone suffers from a similar fate like the rest of the Windows Mobile camera cell phones. The camera interface is sluggish in every way. Microsoft really has to do something about Windows Mobile’s resource management as no matter how good a CCD you put into a cell phone, the limitations in picture taking speed will eventually take its toll.
As for image quality, I did not really have high hopes but surprisingly, the results blew me away. Images captured looked great on the cell phone and even on the computer. The sharpness and the richness of colors are great even for a camera cell phone. This more or less allowed me to overlook some of the minor issues like white balance.
The Sony Ericsson X1 gets its juice from a Li-Polymer 1500 mAh battery and with general usage it’s good for nearly two days. General usage covers a couple of hours of voice calls, occasional web browsing over WiFi, taking pictures of bored commuters, playing a few hours of simple Java games, checking email via 3G/WiFi and listening to music once in a while. Considering the battery life of most Windows Mobile cell phones, I found that the Sony Ericsson’s battery life was considerably better than the rest.