Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1
Sony Ericsson launches impressive iPhone competitor
This article describes the original Sony Ericsson XPERIA, an interesting product announced early 2008. Interestingly enough, three years later, at the 2011 CES, Sony Ericsson revealed the XPERIA Arc, a sleek and beautiful design that's now no longer based on Windows Mobile with a custom desktop, but on Android 2.3. [See specs of the EXPERIA Arc on the Sony Ericsson website]
February 10, 2008 -- Unwilling to let Apple get all the attention with its sleek iPhone, Sony Ericsson launched XPERIA and announced the first XPERIA phone, the X1. What is XPERIA? Unfortunately not something brand-spanking new. Instead, Sony Ericsson chose to use Windows Mobile 6 but design a new desktop interface. Like the iPhone, XPERIA uses a touchscreen, but unlike the iPhone, there is also a physical slider keyboard that, depending on your preferences, can make data entry easier.
The XPERIA X1 has a footprint just a little smaller than that of the iPhone (4.3 x 2.1 inches vs. 4.5 x 2.35 inches). With its slider keyboard it it is thicker, however: 0.7 inches versus a bit under half an inch for the iPhone. Weight at 5.1 ounces is the same. Like Apple, Sony Ericsson came up with an attractive design. The X1 has a metallic body with a black brushed metal finish in the front. The backside is black, too, with a glossy insert around the camera lens. A steel/silver version will also be available
Specifications are impressive and that especially goes for the display. It measures three inches diagonally (the iPhone's is 3.5 inches) and has an almost unbelievably high 800 x 480 pixel resolution. That's well over 300 dots per inch and sharper than any other mobile device display we know of. The iPhone's display already looks razor-sharp and it is "only" 480 x 320 pixels.
Also impressive is the camera resolution. In terms of specs, the X1 trumps the iPhone again with 3.2 megapixel versus 2.0 megapixel resolution, a photo light, 3X digital zoom, and video recording. Resolution, of course isn't everything, so we'll reserve judgement until we've had a chance to see actual pictures taken with the X1.
The X1 offers several operation modes. There's the touchscreen, the 42-key QWERTY keyboard, a stylish but otherwise conventional 4-way key, four silkscreen hardware buttons (answer and hang up phone, Windows, OK), two slender response keys below the display, and an optical joystick. As far as the keyboard goes, Sony Ericsson says that "ample distance between keys makes writing fast and easy." From the looks of it, the QWERTY layout is about 36%-scale, smaller than, say, the HTC Shift's 69%-scale keyboard, but larger than standard thumbtype keyboards or the iPhone's 26%-scale onscreen keyboard. The key layout is neat and uncrowded with black on silver letters. Numeric keypad and some extra keystrokes are lettered in blue and accessible via a blue function key. Two raised little triangles mark the A and the L, the base position for touchtyping.
The XPERIA X1 supports up to 400MB of phone memory and accommodates additional storage via microSD cards. The processor seems to be the 520MHz version of the Marvel PXA270 though we're not entirely sure of that. There is Bluetooth, WiFi, aGPS for location-based services, and a USB port. The X1 supports quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as quad-band UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA.
But what is the XPERIA interface? Basically a set of "panels" that make up a new desktop for Windows Mobile. The panels can be rearranged and the whole idea is in line with the new-found interest in touch as opposed to using a stylus. You can see the 9-panel grid below. It's quite impressive, but keep in mind that you'll see it on a very small display. The screen, however, has such high resolution that the panels look like whole web pages. On the upper right you see a Sony-style interface familiar from the Sony PSP handheld game console. According to Sony Ericsson, the idea was to "deliver a seamless blend of mobile Web communication and multimedia entertainment" for that converged mobile experience that's all the rage these days. XPERIA is not, however, a totally comprehensive interface. Underneath the cool new look you mostly find the familiar Windows Mobile screens and features.
The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 will be available in the second half of 2008. Pricing hasn't been determined and will, as usual, depend on carriers and that bane of modern consumers, the obligatory 2-year service agreement. The X1 will likely fetch a premium price as it, according to Sony Ericsson, "redefines premiumness." It sure does look cool.
-- by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer
[See X1 specs at Sony Ericsson site]