With the original X10 Mini Pro Sony Ericsson created something unique, it was tiny a small, beautifully formed handset running Android that proved immensely successful. A year later and we’ve now got our hands on its successor.
What we like
With a smooth rubberised back the Xperia Mini feels comfortable to hold, exterior controls like volume and shutter are a respectable size and in a good position. Although it’s small, it's just the right size to hold in one hand, for phone calls this doesn't bring many compromises either, with respectable call quality even in loud traffic.
With the exception of the customary Android buttons underneath, the front is dominated by the 3-inch screen. Despite the resolution being a moderate 320x480 pixels, it’s still bright and fairly sharp and it is still usable in bright sunlight.
Browsing is a fairly smooth experience. You get Flash out of the box and like other Android handsets you can double tap to zoom and the text wraps to fit the space. Powered by a 1Ghz processor with 512MB RAM the Xperia Mini feels quick to use, whether swiping through web pages and swapping between browser windows.
Running Android 2.3.3, it includes the same extra features we saw on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo. Customise each corner of the homescreen with up to four icons, where they can quickly be launched. Main menu apps can be displayed in four options: your own order, alphabetical, most used or recently installed. In addition you can create folders comprising up to 16 apps by dragging them on top of each other.
10 selectable equaliser settings, help boost mp3 performance via the simple music player. A neat feature is to be able to quickly tap a button to perform a Google Lyrics, Wikipedia or YouTube video search for the track you are playing.
Independently the speaker isn’t particularly loud - especially if more than one person trying to listen - but turn on the xLoud feature and it really boosts the volume, adding another dimension to movies.
The Xperia Mini includes a 5-megapixel camera complete with a dedicated shutter (a rarity on most cameras), it produces still pictures that are sharp, detailed and bright and there are a good selection of features such as EV Compensation - although surprisingly white balance and metering can only be adjusted in movie mode. Launch Photos and you can see your tagged Facebook pictures
Connectivity includes WiFi and DLNA for wireless streaming, while Qriocity provides movie downloads.
What we don’t like
Measuring just 88mm high, the Xperia Neo's small size won’t appeal to everyone - especially those with big hands - and it certainly will feel strange for anyone more familiar with a larger smartphones like the Xperia Arc. Typing especially can be tricky, although the predictive text is pretty accurate.
Ideally we’d like the screen resolution to be a little bit higher; text isn’t pin sharp and whites lack purity and are a little yellow.
Sony Ericsson’s social networking app Timescape just isn't very good. Status updates are displayed as cards you flick through, however it’s slower to use than the dedicated Facebook and Twitter apps and takes up a lot of space on the screen.
Although the camera has a built in shutter, it is a little slow, especially low-light conditions. While we applaud the abilty to capture 720p HD movies from such a small phone, they aren't particularly good and instead of being sharp, fine detail appears blocky.
With the Xperia Mini, Sony Ericsson has created a handset that is small without compromising on features. Sure its compact form factor won’t appeal to everyone, but connectivity is excellent and Sony Ericsson has included enough extra features to ensure it stands out from the Android pack.
This handset was provided by Carphone Warehouse