Sony Ericsson Xperia x1 review

July 25th, 2009


When I was looking for an upgrade for my HTC Tytn 2, the other phone that I was considering other than the HTC Fuze/Touch Pro was the Sony Xperia X1. I was really excited when Howard asked me to review the Sony Xperia a few weeks ago. Everyone was envious when I tweeted that I finally got my hands on it and was ready to review it. At first glance, the first thing that comes to mind when you look and touch the Xperia is that it is very stylish indeed. It’s got very streamlined lines.

Unlike the Fuze, the Xperia actually feels very solid. It’s a good weight. I’m one of the few people who don’t really care for a light phone. I like my units with a little heft in them. It’s mostly metal with the exception of the silver edge around the phone. Another thing that’s really interesting about the Xperia is that it’s the most un-Sony like phone I’ve ever met.


It takes a standard Mini USB cable to charge it, it takes standard MicroSDHC cards for memory and it takes a standard 3.5 mm jack for headphones.


Once the unit is turned on, it works like any standard Windows 6.1 device which is unfortunate. After being used to TouchFlo 3D on the Fuze along with other add-ons from other Windows ROMS, it makes the Xperia experience almost inadequate. The one thing that really didn’t work well for me was the design decision for this device to be a stylus- driven device. First is the physical aspects. While the unit itself is beautiful to look at and beautiful to touch, I really didn’t like the fact that the raised edges of the screen. It made it very difficult to get to menu items close to the edge of the screen. This problem was compounded by the very small size of the standard menus. Another thing that didn’t work well for me was how cumbersome it was to get to common apps like email, contacts and calendar. I either had to click on start menu and select the app I want or press the panel button, select a panel that had quick access to the information I want and then click on the icon that represented the information I want.


When I first looked at the keyboard for the Xperia, I was really looking forward to using it because in comparison to the cramped keyboard configuration on the Fuze, the Xperia looked like it was going to be a lot easier to type with. I quickly learned this was not necessarily the case. Granted, it takes a bit of adjustment to get used to a new keyboard but I found typing on it a bit clumsy. A couple of things I really missed when in comparison to my Fuze was arrow keys and shortcuts to apps like contacts, calendar and email. I found having to take my fingers off the keyboard to access apps very inefficient and resulting in a lot of frustration. Sony also implemented a feature called the optical joypad. The joypad basically sits on top of the directional pad giving the user the option of either using the raised edges as a standard directional pad or the recessed plain as a touchpad. Unfortunately I found myself constantly selecting the wrong menu choices because my fingers would accidentally slip just before making the selection causing me to do something unexpected frequently. The good news is that you can turn off the option. I can’t really think of any circumstances where the joypad would actually be usable because of the raised edges for the directional pad.

Outside of the hardware and operating system issues, the default software that comes pre-installed with the Xperia is both old and unimpressive. Outside of the standard Windows Mobile offerings (i.e. Microsoft Office for Mobile), the only 3 applications that come preinstalled – Handango InHand, Google Maps and Opera. The problem I have with Handango InHand is that it doesn’t allow you to try the software before you buy. There’s only the option to purchase. I love Google Maps and Opera but the version installed was about a year old and so was Opera. Given that it’s supposed to be a premier phone, I would have expected that newer versions of both those software would have come pre-installed. The Panels concept is great in theory but the implementation of it was really poor especially when you compare to other choices that you have in terms of Today Screens like SPB Mobile Shell and PointUI. I didn’t like any of the default panels and the one most useful for me was the Facebook panel.

My impressions on sound, RF and screen were neutral. I liked having the standard 3.5 mm jacks for headphones but the sound quality while playing MP3s were neutral. This is partly because I’m not much of an audiophile. Testing RF on the phone is tough because it’s not one of the things I notice with my phone. In my day-to-day life, I get constant signal or it doesn’t degrade enough for it to make a big difference for my use. The spec on the Xperia X1 screen is a mind-blowing 800 x 480. Unfortunately, it was quite underwhelming. My impression when I first go the Fuze was that I was completely in love with it. I didn’t get the same feeling looking at the Xperia.


But all is not lost. There are several things that work really well. The GPS on the Xperia was incredibly fast. This is the first phone I’ve had that I was able to get co-ordinates while not being outdoors or sitting next to a window. Another qualitative thing about this phone is that it seems to download information much faster than any of the other phones I’ve had. RAM usage for this phone is really low. It typically takes only about 40% of available RAM unlike the Fuze which takes close to 51% on boot up. Since I usually have my phones charged all the time, I was quite surprised when the Xperia reported about 50% use of battery after the end of the work day.

In summary, I don’t regret buying the Fuze for my use. It’s much better suited for how I use my phone. The hardware is quite nice and the drivers that come with the device drivers make this an exceptionally quick phone. I also like the fact that it’s an HTC built device so the community support for the phone should be good. Hopefully most of the issues outside of the raised edges can be dealt with through community developed apps.

Kelvin Kang

Entry Filed under: Phones,Reviews,Sony Ericsson

3 Comments Add your own

    Stephen  |  July 26th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    For your information, the Xperia X1 is also a HTC built device. You can get support from XDA-developpers and get custom roms for it too!

    Tristan Cuschieri  |  July 30th, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Disappointing to read how disappointing the device is. But in the end, with offerings from HTC like the Touch Pro and the Touch Pro 2 coming to N.A. soon, I suppose it doesn’t matter as much :)

    Great review! Thoroughly enjoyed the read. Thanks!

    cheap phone  |  October 9th, 2009 at 11:49 am

    its a shame to read how disappointing this phone think i almost bought it. I really love HTC though.

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