Reviewed August 9, 2010 by Lisa Gade, Editor
They're cute, they're incredibly small yet they're full-featured Android smartphones. They're the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini and X10 mini pro. They each measure 3.5 x 2 x 0.7 inches or less and the mini weighs only 3.1 ounces while the keyboard-equipped X10 mini pro weighs 4.2 ounces. Both phones run Android 1.6 Donut (alas still behind the times like their big brother the Xperia X10a), but unlike the full-sized Xperia X10a, these have 600MHz Qualcomm CPUs rather than a 1GHz Snapdragon.
The X10 mini pro and X10 mini.
The mini phones aren't meant for power users; they're for those who care more about portability and fashion. The X10 mini has a rainbow of back covers-- something to match nearly every outfit (especially if you're into bright colors or monochrome) while the X10 mini pro has a black soft touch back. They undeniably look like plastic phones, though they're stylish and solid. We take a look at the X10a mini versions which have 3G HSDPA on AT&T's 3G bands as well as 2100Mhz for Europe. The non "a" models have 900/2100MHz 3G for overseas use only, but all are quad band GSM world phones with EDGE. The models we have for review are not locked to any carrier, and we don't yet know if Sony Ericsson will sell them direct with no carrier involvement or if AT&T might offer them.
The X10 mini back collection.
Both models have small QVGA displays (240 x 320 pixels) with accelerometers. That's low resolution by Android standards where base phones are generally 320 x 480 and high end phones 800 x 480, but the resolution is appropriate to the display's size. Anything higher would have been unreadable. The drawback is that some apps don't support the lower QVGA resolution, though most do.
Above and below: the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini.
Though small, these phones are smart. They run full Android with Google Maps, Gmail, Android Market, YouTube and all the rest of Google's goodies. They have Sony Ericsson's Timescape software that we first saw on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10a superphone headed for AT&T. Timescape is social networking software that uses a card metaphor to keep you up to date with Facebook and Twitter. Despite the lower CPU speeds, the mini models handle Timescape just as well as the Xperia X10.
The mini and mini pro have a GPS that works with Google Maps and the included Wisepilot, WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 and a good 5 megapixel autofocus camera with flash that can shoot video at VGA 30 fps resolution. Not bad for absolutely tiny phones.
The Xperia X10 mini pro has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that's very useable, though it lacks backlighting. The hardware keyboard, slightly larger size and user replaceable battery are the only differences between the mini pro and the mini.
Here's our video review of the Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro and mini:
Phone and Reception
Both tiny Xperia phones have average reception on AT&T, managing a -93 db signal where our iPhone 3GS got -97 and our BlackBerry Torch managed an impressive -81db (you go, RIM!). That's typical as SE phones typically have middle of the road reception and RIM's flagship GSM phones have excellent reception. Voice quality is good with clear audio and moderate volume (again typical of SE). The speaker may be small, but it's loud and clear enough to hear driving directions in a sedan (a convertible or sports car would be a stretch).
The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro.
The web browser is the usual excellent Google webkit browser that handles full HTML sites with aplomb. The YouTube player is here and the phone can play mobile YouTube but not FLV Flash video meant for computers (look to Froyo 2.2 Android devices with the Flash Player plugin for that). Gmail and an email client for POP3 and IMAP email are on-board, but there's no Android support for Exchange Sync in this old version of the OS.
We like Sony Ericsson's customized music player-- they certainly know how to do a media player right. The video player performs well (watch our video review to see it in action), even with high bitrate content, but these phones are hardly video-centric given their small, relatively low resolution displays. That said, the displays on each are sharp and bright. The capacitive display is responsive to touch, though the on-screen keyboard on the mini can be a trial since the virtual keys are so small.
We can't give a final star rating to these two charming baby Android phones since Sony Ericsson wasn't able to provide us with ballpark pricing. Our guess is that they'll sell for $300 to $350 without a contract, and if that's the case, we give them a thumbs-up if you're looking for an incredibly pocketable Android smartphone. They're certainly a novel response to the Jumbotron run of Android superphones, and we know that some of you still want something that will fit in your pocket and not require charging twice per day. In our tests, the Xperia X10 mini and mini pro easily lasted two days on a charge with moderate use. The phones have decent reception, sharp call quality and a solid 3G web experience on AT&T Wireless.
Size:X10 mini: 3.3
x 2.0 x 0.6 inches. Weight: 3.1 ounces.X10 mini pro: 3.5
x 2.0 x 0.7 inches. Weight: 4.2 ounces.
Phone:GSM quad band world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz. The X10a version have AT&T 3G HSDPA on the 850/1900MHz bands plus the Euro 2100MHz band. Non-"a" version has Euro 3G only on the 900/2100MHz bands.
Camera:5 MP with autofocus lens and LED flash. Can shoot VGA video at 30fps.
GPS: Has aGPS and Google Maps. Wisepilot also installed.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP.
Software:Android OS 1.6 Donut with Sony Ericsson custom software including Timescape. Sony Ericsson music player, TrackID, Wisepilot GPS navigation software, NeoReader bar code scanner and demo games. Standard suite of Google software, including Google Maps, YouTube player, Gmail and Gtalk.
SDHC microSD card slot, 2 gig card included. Has micro USB connector.