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Video review of Sony Ericsson's Xperia X1 Windows Mobile smartphone

Review by Michael Oryl on Monday January 26, 2009.

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The release of the Xperia X1 marks a number of firsts for Sony Ericsson. The device is the first smartphone that runs Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS for the company, and it is also the first device the company has put out that sports the sideways sliding form factor, which is quite popular among QWERTY smartphone users. The X1 is also the first in what we expect to be a range of Xperia handsets that will eventually be released, and it also features Sony Ericsson's new Panels home screen interface.

[The silver X1 used in 4 of the 5 videos in this story had some real speed issues that we, at the time, assumed were common to all X1 phones. The second X1 that Sony Ericsson sent us, the black version seen in the 5th video, shows us that some of the speed issues were just found on our original silver handset, as many people had suggested to us. -editor]

Physical Design

In terms of form factor, the X1 is a fairly large device. It weighs 159g (5.6oz) and measures up at 111mm x 52.5mm x 18mm (4.4" x 2.1" x .7"). That means it is narrow enough to be pocketable, but it will never go unnoticed. Part of the "blame" for the heft goes to the X1's consistent use of metal as its core material, but the metal makes for a pretty solid feeling device that also looks quite good. Plastic is used in a number of spots, though, such as in the control cluster and the rear corners of the body. Both of those areas are cause for some concern, in our opinion.

The 800x480 pixel touchscreen display is bright and sharp, but is not flush mounted on the face of the phone. This means that it is hard to keep clean and it is hard to use a finger for some on-screen controls. The high resolution also increases the need for a stylus, as even some menu items that are not located near the edge of the display can be difficult to hit reliably with a fingertip. In fact, even doing the initial screen calibration with a stylus is difficult, since it is so hard to accurately hit a target at such high pixel resolutions. We had to go through the calibration screen on each X1 a half dozen times or more because the phones were never satisfied that we had done it properly.

While the QWERTY keyboard didn't impress us in the early prototypes, we find it to be quite acceptable now. It is made up of 4 rows of keys that offer reasonable feel in a very sound layout. The backlighting is its only true weakness. The combination d-pad/optical joystick controller also works better now than it did on early units, and I like having the ability to use the optical joystick at one moment, and a regular d-pad the next.

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About the author

Michael Oryl
Michael is the Philadelphia based owner and former editor-in-chief of MobileBurn.com. You can follow him on Twitter as @MichaelOryl

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