Review: A day with Sony-Ericsson's Xperia X1


The X1 is engineered art, precise to the finest detail and machined in brushed metal. A high-end powerhouse that mocks the bejeweled junk that usually passes for luxury in cellphone-land, it remains hard to recommend thanks to its extravagant price.

At $800 unlocked, with no subsidy options, every virtue is expected, and every vice doubly disappointing.

A slider-phone with a full QWERTY keyboard, the X1 has a 3" touchscreen display, 3.2 megapixel camera, secondary webcam and a 528Mhz Qualcomm CPU with a 256MHz co-processor. Built in is 256MB of RAM, 512MB of Flash storage and a quad-band 3G GSM radio. It has Bluetooth, WiFi, aGPS, FM radio and a 1500 mAh battery. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro and weighs 158 grams.

As a piece of hardware it's almost without peer. Photos are crisp and large, the keyboard is well thought-out, and performance is excellent compared to workhorse smartphones. The 800x480 display is particularly amazing. For those who want serious productivity, it's got grunt in abundance: mobile blogging would be a dream on this thing.

On the other hand, it's thick and heavy, and the arc on which the keyboard slides out seems more about form than function.


Its interface, comprising a collection of heavily customizable panels that abstract the phone's functionality in various pretty ways, is equally swanky. Though it's WinMo under the hood, it does a great job of making it as friendly as OS newcomers. In particular, the media player is a colossal improvement over the standard app bunged into vanilla Windows Mobile. You'll still need to pull out the stylus to pick at tiny-texted menus once you're inside many apps, however, so don't expect miracles.

There are quirks. Opera Mobile is included, but didn't work very well -- odd given its reputation for getting a watchable web onto almost anything. Mobile IE is trash. This imperfect web access makes much of the Xperia experience seem oddly disengaged. The selection of third-party panels is slim, too; aside from what's generally available for WinMo, the Xperia ecosystem isn't out of first gear yet.

If you're prepared to live with the warranty-less $600 deal at Amazon, or are dead-sure it's what you want, the X1 will be a fine alternative to the high-end Nokias and other top smartphones. But we're looking forward to a sequel running the freshly-announced Windows Mobile 6.5--and not running nearly a grand after tax and activation--to become a more effective flagship for Microsoft's fleet.


Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 [Amazon]

About Rob Beschizza

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