Sony Ericsson X1 Xperia review

January 2009
By Olav Hellesø-Knutsen

In use

Windows Mobile has become a mature and stable platform now with version 6.1. I have installed several applications on the X1, and none except the Facebook panel has forced me to push the soft- or hard reset buttons. Two times during the 10 week testing period did the X1 hang. I still do not know what caused this, but I have a vague suspicion that the problem was caused by the GPS receiver. When this happen, the X1 suddenly started to become much warmer than normal. It was cold enough for me to hold it in my hand, but it was unusual warm. During these two incidents I took a look at the task manager and saw 2-3 Windows Mobile pre-installed applications running. The battery indicator soon started to show a quick drop in capacity. After a short while there was little power left, and I was told to re-charge the phone, or risk loosing whatever I was working on.

The Xperia X1 is the most advanced Sony Ericsson model to date, but it is not a perfect phone. There are still some things we could have hoped for. Windows Mobile OS is becoming more and more customizable for every new release. Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional was announced at the same time X1 was announced. The next version of Windows Mobile 6.5 is most likely announced one year later, now in February. Microsoft still have full control on how much the Windows Mobile interface can be customized and tweaked. Adding the Panel interface on the today screen does not take away the usual Windows Mobile experience.

Sony Ericsson X1 in use
X1 and the QWERTY keyboard

Some parts of the functionality are still in the hands of Microsoft. Adjusting the volume for example. Xperia X1 has one volume setting for incoming calls and another adjustment level for everything else. Radio volume, incoming SMS/MMS and Email notifications are all linked to the same volume level. I often listen to the radio with a low volume level and if I forget to turn up the volume level afterwards I am likely to miss the next few incoming SMS notifications. In Windows Mobile 6.1 it is only possible to choose among 6 volume levels using the standard volume leveler. The Radio panel has 12 levels, Windows Media Player has 20 but I wish it could be fine adjusted a littel more precise. The lowest level is sometime to high for my taste.

I have mixed feeling about the panel concept. Trying to change and improve the Windows Mobile interface like some of the available panels do is quite pretentious. The problem is that none of the panels change everything, so somewhere down the menu hierarchy you are bound to hit the usual Windows Mobile interface again. That means you will have to pick up the stylus to be able to do anything effective. Another issue is that you are forced to change panel to access certain phone features. It takes around 7-8 seconds to switch from one panel to another. Turning on the Radio is a 10 second process and signing in to Facebook using the Facebook panel is a 20 second process. I am sure a Facebook or Radio standalone application would be quicker to start up.

One feature I really miss is voice commands. The ability to speak out a word to call someone is a feature I use often. With Windows Mobile is is possible to start and control applications and do other tasks using voice commands, but this is an add-on from Microsoft that you need to buy separately.

In the package, Conclusion and Photo Gallery -->