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Sony Ericsson's Mini smartphone rich in features

Sony Ericsson's Mini smartphone rich in features

With the release of its new Xperia X10 smartphone – an Android device with an impressive four inch touchscreen – Sony Ericsson saw an opportunity to capture a broader segment of consumers by offering two miniature versions: the Xperia X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro.

The subject of this review is the Mini Pro. While the X10 is more the size of an ultraslim compact digicam, its little sibling will easily fit in the palm of your hand. The difference between the Mini and Mini Pro is the Pro has a slide-out keyboard.

With its size, and emphasis on communication and entertainment, the vendor is pitching the mini version as a style accessory for young females who want to stay connected.

Sony Ericsson says the Mini Pro is the size of a credit card, but because of the slide-out keyboard, it’s dimensions are actually far thicker than a credit card at 90 x 52 x 17 mm. It weighs in at 120 grams, so compared with most smartphones it is tiny.

Comfortable and cute best describe the form factor, with glossy black plastic surrounding the 2.55 inch, 240 x 320 pixel touchscreen, and a rubberised black rear. The build quality is solid, with the well-spaced keys on the board being easy to type on despite their small size.

Sony Ericsson still manages to pack a swag of functionality into the smaller device, and the fact that the Mini Pro, at $699, costs half the price of its larger sibling, will attract buyers unable to shop at the top of the range.

Because the screen size is nearly halved on the X10 Mini Pro, and the resolution is far lower when compared with the larger X10, buyers need to accept they won’t get the multimedia boost the bigger screen provides.

Aside from this, the other trade-offs associated with the smaller version are a five megapixel camera rather than the 8.1 megapixel on the X10, less built-in storage and a less powerful processor; though there aren’t many other notable differences.

There is a sparse range of keys and ports on the Mini Pro – with a 3.5mm headphone jack and an on/off button on top, volume rockers and a camera shortcut key on the right and the USB connection port on the left. There are three hard keys below the screen – for home, back and options.

The device is easy to navigate with icons for important menu options in the four corners of the screen: namely messaging, the contacts book, the music player and virtual keypad. However, users can change these to suit. The display automatically rotates when you rotate the device or slide out the keyboard.

Icons and widgets are arranged in four navigation panes that can be scrolled or swiped through.

Among the noteworthy features on the Mini Pro is Sony’s Timescape, which allows users to view social networking updates from Twitter and Facebook, SMS and multimedia messages, phone calls, photos and music tracks in one place. Each is represented visually as though part of a stack of playing cards that can be scrolled through with finger swipes.

These can be broken down into each type of update or activity – so, for example, all messages could be viewed separately.

In the music player, the much-promoted feature is an Infinity icon that invokes a search in YouTube and on the web for material related to the artist whose music the user is listening to.

As you would expect with a device running on Google’s platform, Google Talk and Gmail are included, along with Google Maps.

Other than Facebook and Twitter, YouTube and an FM radio are built in. There is also assisted GPS, with Navteq’s Wisepilot navigation app on board.

The camera is more than adequate even in different lighting conditions, both in still and video modes, and includes, flash and autofocus.

The Mini Pro is strong on the connectivity side, with wi-fi, Bluetooth, GSM GPRS/ Edge and UMTS HSPA. There is also synchronisation through Sony Ericsson or DataViz’s RoadSync for Microsoft Exchange.

Unfortunately, like the X10, the Mini Pro is running an outdated version of Google Android OS – 1.6. However, Sony Ericsson says an update to 2.1 will be available in September.

At 600MHz, the processor is fine for the work required of it, with there being no noticeable lag when opening different applications.

Sony Ericsson says the battery will last for four hours of GSM talk time and 3.5 hours on UMTS. Aside from the bells and whistles, there were no problems with call quality on this unit.

Overall, the X10 Mini Pro is cute enough to catch potential buyers’ eyes, especially those who want a cheaper and less cumbersome smartphone. The keyboard is also a useful addition when tapping out an SMS message or Facebook update.


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