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Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 Possibly the Nicest WinMobile Phone

x1_slider_black_1 For the last couple of days I have been playing around with what could arguably be the best Windows Mobile phone in business – Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X1. From the packaging to the diminutive USB charger to the sleek finish of the device itself, the whole X1 experience is flawless. It is a well-designed smartphone that is very well-engineered. It is no different than Sony VAIO laptops or Bravia TVs, and as such it’s no surprise that it’s expensive: $799. The device is going to be available in the U.S. starting Nov. 28 on Sony’s (s sne) web site, Sony Style.

It comes with a very comfortable slider keyboard, great connectivity options (WiFi, 3G, Quad-band GSM etc.) and is a multimedia powerhouse. The phone comes with a 3-inch WVGA display with resolution of up to 800 X 480 pixels screen, which means it can play back videos in almost DVD quality and makes it easy to play 3D mobile games. I love the photos taken by the 3.2 megapixel camera and the music playback is solid and clear. X1 has a pretty decent battery life — and yes, it beats the pants off the iPhone 3G battery. It got about 8 hours on AT&T’s 3G network — ahead of my iPhone — but lagged the Android G1. However, it had better GSM standby and talk times. But again, battery usage differs from person to person. One thing I hate about the device is that it lacks built-in memory, but the good news is that it can take up to 32 GB in a memory card.

What will surprise you the most is that this phone is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1. Despite the torturous Windows Mobile interface, I found myself liking this device, which shows that with some creativity and lots of imagination, even Windows Mobile can stand up to assaults from Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone, RIM’s ( s rimm) Blackberry and Google’s (s goog) Android. Of course Windows Mobile means that the phone syncs with Microsoft Exchange over the air. It can read documents, spreadsheets and presentations natively.

I was surprised by how nimble the phone feels — I have yet to use another Windows Mobile phone that comes close to X1. The device gives you many ways to interact with the contact touch, full QWERTY keyboard, 4-way key and optical joystick navigation and panels. It is the panels which are awesome and function almost like how the applications are accessed on the iPhone.

Bottomline: If your company insists that you need a Windows Mobile phone, then Xperia X1 is an obvious (and perhaps the only) choice.


20 Responses to “Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 Possibly the Nicest WinMobile Phone”

  1. Johnny

    X1 Is The Best PDA I ever had :o) And sony made it that way so it looks and ACTS like a real phone :o) Just try to make and receive calls with a ‘ brick ‘ sized pda and then try the x1 . BIG DIFFERENCE . Reception and quality is GREAT unlike any other pda i ever had which making / receiving a call was a NIGHTMARE. It’s a great phone and by dissasembling it i figured out that many parts of the phone could be customized in the near future . The whole body of the phone can be detattached which means that in the near future many cool skins will be out for this phone.Have fun :o) And for those who like facebook , x1 has a facebook panel which you can use

  2. Armando Akimbo

    “the bad part is that the moment you use it for a while…you tend to realize the OS underneath sucks big time”

    It’s not so much the OS as the application-layer crap that traditionally sits on top of it. If you use Kinoma Play (or FreePlay) on the X1, you’ll see that iPhone-slick software is not only possible but pleasurable on a Windows Mobile device.

    Of course, Apple would never let Kinoma Play be in the iTunes app store because it puts the iPhone’s media capabilities to shame, but that’s another story. (Happily, the Wall Street Journal article about Kinoma Play notes that it is apparently coming for Symbian as well.)

  3. I have seen a prototype recently…this phone is awesome….

    but the bad part is that the moment you use it for a while…you tend to realize the OS underneath sucks big time. No offense to Sony…but they could have opted for a faster mobile OS. Although the processor is relatively fast, if you have multiple apps running (say more than 5)….at the time you would really feel like hating it. (

  4. In Europe at least I believe that the HTC Touch HD has the edge. The X1 keyboard is pretty darn lousy, a good on-screen keyboard can rival it assuming the screen is large enough – and the Touch HD with its 800×480 and 3.8 inches should do the job admirably.

    800×480 on a screen this small is skating along the edges of usability for me. Meanwhile, iPhone-sized 800×480 and TouchFlo should trump Panels, a comparatively tiny screen and a really poor keyboard.

    Personally I’d even take the HTC Touch Pro (Fuze is a mildly altered one of those) over the Xperia. I’d lament the lost 200 pixels width, but rejoice over the MUCH better keyboard – and personally prefer TouchFlo anyway for touch-centric use of the phone. However, since I don’t really need the keyboard that badly (and when I do need one I’d hook up a foldable Bluetooth keyboard) I think the HTC Touch HD is probably the best WinMo device out there. That screen is just… quite something. Makes the iPhone screen look grainy and low tech by comparison even.

  5. My company insists that I need a Windows Mobile phone. Getting them to pay for it, however…

    I’ll definitely be checking this one out.

    Thanks for the review, Mr. Malik.

  6. Om, have you seen the HTC Fuze yet? I think it’s being released by AT&T today and it looks sweet. My only problem with the Xperia X1 is that the screen appears to be too skinny. I’m glad to see you’re finally impressed by a WinMo phone though!