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Like peas in the same pod, the Xperia mini pro and mini are shrunk-down versions of the original Xperia X10, and each has a different calling. The generous display on the X10 is ideal for Web browsing. The X10 mini’s greatest appeal is, well, its tiny footprint. The X10 mini pro adds a physical slide-out QWERTY keyboard for heavy texters.
Xperia X10 mini pro
The mini pro’s biggest difference compared with the mini is the addition of a QWERTY keyboard that slides out to the left and its noticeable heft. This is a four-row panel with oft-used punctuation, for example, comma and full stop, in lowercase. The keys may look tiny, but we like the well-spaced out and distinct tactile feedback of the buttons. It’s a pity the spacebar doesn’t click when you press it in the middle. Instead, the nubs beneath are on the two ends of the bar.
The mini pro is also less curvaceous and marginally thicker than the mini due to the physical keyboard. The placement of the ports differs as well. On the mini pro, the 3.5mm audio jack (this has extra contact points even though it can still be used with any third-party earphones) is along the top, with the micro-USB connector on the left edge. The mini has these on the bottom edge of the device.
Xperia X10 mini
The mini has the smallest footprint in the Xperia X10 family, which makes it great to hang around the neck with a lanyard. We like the soft-touch plastic back (available in six colors) which has a pronounced convex design. This gives it a more ergonomic feel in hand. Unlike the mini pro, the screen on the mini doesn’t rotate to landscape mode when we the device is turned sideways (even though we checked the box in the settings) and the default message input method is the onscreen alphanumeric pad. We do like the very quick switching between letters, symbols and numbers on the pad simply by tapping on the right or left of the screen.
The table below shows how few differences the mini pro and mini have.
X10 mini pro X10 mini
Size 90 x 52 x 17mm 83 x 50 x 16mm
Weight 120g 88g
Colors available Black, Red Black, Pearl White, Lime, Pink, Red, Silver
See more pictures of the X10, X10 mini and X10 mini pro at our photo gallery here.
Both the mini pro and mini run Android 1.6 with Sony Ericsson’s custom user interface. The home screen features four customizable quadrants for the Messages, Music, Menu and Contacts apps. There’s space for only one widget per home screen due to the tiny 2.55-inch QVGA display and you navigate the panels by swiping left or right. The display may be small, but the font size is easy on the eyes, so there’s no need to squint to read text on the screen.
The interface was very smooth and snappy, which caught us by surprise since these are prototype units. We suspect that perhaps the smaller and lower-resolution screen minimized the drain on a slower 600MHz processor compared with the Xperia X10. Add animation of applications flying in and out and the four quadrants that rotate into view when you return to the home screen, and our initial experience with the interface went far beyond our expectations.
We also liked the Timescape feature which aggregates all communications in one place. We could view all event alerts, messages, missed calls and browse conversations with a particular person. The Contacts quadrant calls up additional information about someone. From here, the infinite button brings us back to the activity log with him/her. The interface managed to be very holistic and didn’t give the feeling that we were jumping from one app to another, so that’s laudable.
Other Common Features
Both Sony Ericsson models come with a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, Bluetooth stereo, FM radio, Assisted-GPS, microSD expansion card slot, HSPA and Wi-Fi connectivity. The usual suite of Google services including Android Market, Google Maps with Street View, Search widget, etc., are also preinstalled, although the Voice Search option is not available in all markets.
The Xperia X10 mini pro and X10 mini are expected in Q2, but based on initial experience, the stability of the software could indicate an earlier commercial rollout. Our initial concerns about the diminutive size of the minis were also allayed after we spent some time with the devices. So we can only hope that Sony Ericsson launches these sooner, rather than later.