Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1a Mini-Review

29Nov08

Whats up, I received a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1a yesterday, November 26th via FedEx after months of waiting.  Just wanted to write up my opinions on the device for anyone who is curious in purchasing or just curious.  I used the device on AT&T’s 850/1900MHz 3G/HSPDA network.

First Impressions & Build Quality

Once I got the phone out of the FedEx box and the Sony Ericsson packaging, I pulled out the X1 and was immediately surprised on how small this thing was.  For some reason, I was given the perception that the X1 was bigger than it really is.  The overall quality of the phone is superb and feels good to hold in hand.  I was using a Sony Ericsson W760 prior to this and it was in build quality, although it was plastic.  The brushed aluminum gives the phone a premium feel (and it should as it cost $700  including tax and shipping from SS Family Center).  Overall the phone looks and feels good.  The only negative is the optical pad in the middle of the directional pad is loose.  When you shake the phone the optical pad rattles and detracts from the build quality.

Keyboard

Disclaimer:  This entire review is subjective, but there is probaly not a more subjective portion of the X1 than the keyboard.  With that in mind the keyboard is exceptional.  I had absolutely no issues going from the big, nice, spacious keys of the W760 to the X1’s qwerty keyboard.  There is just enough a “feedback” to let you know that you have accurately pressed a key.  There is enough space between each button to type out a message quickly and without errors.  I have been texting constantly since receiving the device with NO issues.

Display

The display is a recessed 800×480 and it is gorgeous.  The fonts are sharp and the color is vibrant.  The only phone screen that is better is the one used on the Blackberry Bold 9000.  Browsing the internet is great as I didn’t have to zoom to read the page as was the case using Opera Mini 4.1 on my W760.  Pictures and videos look great, but of course this is dependant on the quality of the source.

The touch features of the display are great.  The screen itself is sensitive and accurate.

UPDATE: The recessed phone makes cleaning it a chore.  Especially cleaning at the edges of the screen.  I think the X1 would be a lot better with a flush screen.

Call Quality

The call quality is superb.  I am able to hear callers very clearly and the callers hear me clearly.

External Sound Quality

Coming from a W760, a Walkman phone, with its stereo speakers to an X1 is a DEFINITE downgrade.  The fact the lone speaker is place in a place where its easy to put your finger over it does not help.  Putting your finger over it effectively mutes it.  The quality music/video/phone speakerphone is on the lower end of the list of phones I have used in the past.

Camera

The quality of the 3.2 megapixel camera is in the upper echelon of 3.2 megapixel cameras.  The pictures turned out better than those taken on my W760.  I had a chance to use a Sony Ericsson C905a when I worked at SE and the pictures taken are that far surpass those of the X1.  The camera UI is a joy to use.  Below are some sample pictures taken using the X1.

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For more pictures, please stay tuned on my post about NCDubs at Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.  Regarding video quality, I was able to take video (in car) of me lapping LMS, however, remember the rattling optical mouse?  Yea, it rattled throughout the entire video and is very audible in the video.  I will post the video soon…

Software

It’s Windows Mobile Professional 6.1.  Clunky, but powerful if you can accept its flaws.  With that said, I have no problems with it and no crashes or hard resets.

Sony Ericsson bundled Opera Mobile 9.5.  The browser is easy to use and relatively quick using Wifi or AT&Ts 3G network.

Threaded messaging + X1 keyboard is marvelous.  I must have fired off at least 500 text messages in the past four days.

XPERIA Panels

Coming with the X1, is a 9-panel interface that add to the user experience of the X1.  Great idea!  I read all the reviews stating how slow the panels were.  I did not think the panel interface was slow, it was responsive.  However, the panel selection currently available is less than favorable.  I have the following panels loaded into my panel interface:

  • Windows Today Screen: standard today screen, functional
  • Cool Hunting: useless to me
  • Fish Panel: nifty and neat
  • Sony Ericsson Panel: nothing special to me about this panel
  • Media Experience Panel: great! easy to use and very intuitive
  • Radio Panel: functional, great to use, with a stereo headset
  • Google Panel: nothing special about this panel
  • Facebook Panel: great idea, but slow!  I have had to soft reset my phone once using this one.  They have somethings to workout with the Facebook panel.
  • SPB Mobile Shell Panel: The best panel currently available and the one I use the most.  Gives you access to the phone in a very friendly way.  Also the weather updates are a nice touch as well.

Connectivity (Bluetooth, Wifi, 3G/HSPDA Data, GPS)

The XPERIA comes LOADED with connectivity options.  I am in Raleigh, NC and benefit from AT&T’s great HSPDA data network.  I was also in the Charlotte and Greensboro areas and had fantastic HSPDA coverage.

I use Wifi at my apartment and have no issues connecting to it.  When out, I pick up other wireless networks and have no problems connecting to those.

I do use Bluetooth to connect to my laptop and Jabra BT3030 stereo headset.  No issues again and very straightforward.  I do have to say, using the BT3030 with the XPERIA is a joy.  The music quality is superb.

The X1 comes preloaded with Google Maps.  Wayfinder can also be installed from a CD included with the XPERIA.  The GPS fix was quick and accurate, even when I was indoors.  I have used TomTom 7 and that is a joy to use on the X1.

Conclusion/In use

I hope I provided a good picture on what the X1 is like.  I have been using the X1 for the past 4 days and its a wonderful device to use.  It is very nice to have access to so many resources at any time.  I am able to use it as a business device and a personal device.  It enables me to stay in contact with the people that mean the most to me.  I can take decent photos, discover my location, hop on the internet.  I can listen to music on my 8GB microSD card.  I am still researching the correct bitrate and resolution of the videos I will place on the X1.  I attempted to use 640×480 @ 1MBps, but it dropped too many frames.

To me, its worth the $650 price tag (Sony Style Family Center 😛 ).

Thanks for reading.

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2 Responses to “Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1a Mini-Review”


  1. 1 My XPERIA X1a Review
  2. 2 U.S. release "date".. what do u guess? - Page 3

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