Sony Ericsson has brought out another version of its Xperia line up, the Xperia X2, and hopes to capture the interest of those looking for a phone that crosses the line between business and leisure.
The new phone echoes the design of the original X1, but improves in nearly every area, with Sony Ericsson taking the lead on construction for the new X2.
The new phone is a compact device with a slide out QWERTY keyboard, and the panels system developed for the original X1 also remains.
The build quality of the X2 is actually pretty high – it feels plasticky but not in a cheap way, and the design is such that it fits nicely in the hand for one finger use, but slides out with a pleasant action to reveal the full QWERTY keyboard.
There's an 8.1MP camera on the back with single LED flash, although it's more a high-end bit of hardware bolted onto a business phone, as it doesn't carry the full CyberShot branding or anything (although that doesn't mean it's a poor effort).
And for navigation there's now an optical trackpad, like that seen in the recent BlackBerry Bold 9700, and for the most part it allows some pretty simple navigation through the phone.
The phone is based on Windows Mobile 6.5, but like most manufacturers Sony Ericsson has reskinned the OS heavily, while maintaining the raw power it packs.
The bright and wide OLED screen is resistive, which means use of a stylus is mandatory for some elements.
As we said, the panels system is again used here – you can have nine on view at once, and each of them ranges from a full Android-a-like home screen with icons to place everywhere, to a heavily optimised YouTube interface.
And if that's not enough for you, there are 25 in all, so you can select your favourites as and when you please.
We're not convinced about the panels system to be honest – as although it's great in practice, it seems to stress out the 528MHz processor a little bit, like it did to a greater degree on the Xperia X1.
Sony Ericsson assured us that this was only because it's a pre-production unit, and while we've heard such claims before, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt in this case.
The Windows Mobile interface is still sporting some of the nasty trademark tiny icons we really hate, such as tiny crosses in the corner of the phone to shut down application windows, which ruins things a little bit, especially when we've played with the HTC HD2 which does a bang up job of hiding it all.
But there are a lot of cool features on the Xperia X2 as well – such as being able to re-order your panels by timeline, so basically changing your home screen depending on what you'll be doing at that time.
There's also a cool tiled interface that links through to other applications, and while this might not be the most constructive way at looking for the program you're after it's still nice.
And the keyboard, which has been overhauled for this release, is a lot better too, as it's no longer flush with the surface (which made it very difficult to hit indeed). This keyboard will give a lot more accuracy, we reckon, and that will be another big problem fixed from the X1 to the X2.
Overall, we've got mixed feelings about the X2. We weren't fans of the X1 and while this appears to be a pretty good upgrade, the judder of the software made us think that we've got another WinMo worry on our hands.
But there's still time before the launch at the end of the month, and if things are speeded up by then Sony Ericsson will have a pretty nifty device to launch through Vodafone.
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