Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 Preview

by : Darren Evans

A welcome surprise from the recent Mobile World congress in Barcelona was the announcement of a totally new smartphone from Sony Ericsson. Previous mobile office devices from them have been using Symbian as the main OS such as the P-Series, but things seem to have changed as the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 will be the first Sony Ericsson phone to run on Windows Mobile. More to the point, it will be the first mobile phone to utilise the new Window Mobile 6.1 Professional Operating System, which already gives it a head start over its rivals that use version 6.

The X1 has a 3" touchscreen with minimal controls on the front-end and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Judging by the separation between each button typing will surely not be a worry for this phone, although the keypad itself does look slightly dull thanks to the cold metallic greyscale used. Enhancing this even further is the Arc-Slider design which offers a slight elevation on the screen when slid out, a little similar to the HTC TYTN II but on a lesser scale.

The amount of functionality packed into a mobile phone that is less than 17mm thick is, in a word, astounding. Options for connectivity are plentiful, which is to be expected in a business device like this. As well as standard GPRS and Bluetooth, you also have advanced 3G at 3.6Mbps (or HSDPA) and Wi-Fi as well. A 3.5mm audio jack is also available too to make for a great set of options, which offers a tantalising glimpse of what's to come.

One aspect that has let some smartphones down lately is under the surface as although the feature set has been expanding exponentially, insufficient processors or RAM chips have caused a major hindrance to usability. The XPERIA X1 will have a 528Mhz Qualcomm processor and 128MB of RAM, which perhaps 8 or so years ago would have been specs similar to a standard home PC. Having this much power will hopefully ensure that the X1 will be lightning quick, though to be fair Sony Ericssons previous flagship smartphone the P1i didn't suffer with this problem at all so any concerns to this end are likely to be unfounded, but lets wait and see before we jump to conclusions.

One feature that may go unnoticed amidst all the excitement of Sony Ericsson utilising Windows Mobile is the auto UI-rotation which basically means that the screen orientation will change automatically when the device is tilted, much like the K850i. This is much more helpful than it appears as the screen will change to landscape straight away when the phone is tilted, instead of having to slide open the keypad first which should save a little on the processor.

Aside from the office & business features the X1 continues to offer even more for expected high-price tag. Music is catered for ably thanks to the compatibility with Bluetooth headphones and the wealth of memory available straight away. A massive 400MB of internal memory will be available as well as the usual microSD slot, though whether the XPERIA X1 will incorporate SDHC cards has yet to be confirmed. An FM radio with RDS is also available in the unlikely event you run out of your own music or simply get bored of your own collection.

To top everything off nicely, the XPERIA X1 has a built-in GPS receiver enabling use as a sat-nav device with compatible software and there is also a 3.15MP camera with autofocus & flash. There is no word at this time whether the X1 will come pre-bundled with any navigation software, but hopefully that will be revealed in due course.

Although I will reserve judgement until I can put the OS through its paces, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 does already look very tantalising and the sheer wealth of features they've managed to squeeze in just leaves on question - when can I buy one?