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The smaller screen and Sony's numerous customisations make the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini feel like less of an Android phone and more like a cheerful little Nokia. It's extremely user-friendly, quick and colourful, and its lack of in-your-face Android features gives the phone a really fresh and accessible feel.
Also, you're getting an extremely capable device for the price, what with the X10 Mini available unlocked for around £140, or on numerous contract deals starting from £15 per month.
The X10 Mini is amazingly snappy to use – Home screens and menus fly about with no crunching or pauses, with practically zero noticeable lag. The phone's 600MHz processor clearly loves only having to worry about powering a low-resolution 320 x 240 display.
Some extremely user-friendly tweaks come courtesy of Sony Ericsson's numerous customisations. Android is hardly recognisable at all, and the changes are all unanimously for the better – and help get the most out of its tiny screen.
Battery life is frankly unbelievable. You'll get more than double the uptime of its full-size X10 sibling – in a phone that costs half the price. It really makes you wonder if pursuing the latest, biggest screens isn't something of a mobile phone red herring.
It really is very small indeed – anyone without dainty fingers will struggle. It's not a phone for men with a history of manual labour, put it that way, with the Back button stuck right in the corner and often rather tricky to locate in one-handed operation.
The low-resolution screen means text isn't as sharp as it could be, while web browsing can require a microscope, or at least a lot of fiddling with the zoom tool.
It's nice that Sony Ericsson has finally updated the X10 Mini to Android 2.1, but it's a little late when most new phones ship with either Android 2.2 or 2.3.
You simply don't expect a phone this small and affordable to be as fast and slick as it is. While the full-size Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 was an undeniably great piece of hardware, the laggy interface rather ruined the experience – not so here.
The custom user interface enhancements are genuine improvements on the Android base, all helping to get the most from the Mini's tiny screen. Android pros will have to do quite a bit of re-learning to cope with T9 text input and the innovative widgetised Home screens, but once you're acclimatised it all makes a huge amount of sense.
However, time hasn't been kind to the X10 Mini. Since it launched we've seen many new Android phones arrive at this smaller, cheaper end of the market, with Sony Ericsson itself managing to offer the three-inch Xperia X8, which can be bought for less than the X10 Mini.
The X10 Mini still has a place for those after a small smartphone, and its custom OS is every bit as fast and fluid after the Andorid 2.1 update, but there are better, cheaper, bigger phones out there for the money in 2011.
It's still a quirky, cute little phone and the Android 2.1 update does increase its functionality, but you'd be a little silly to buy one in the year 2011 when there's so much more power and screen sizes available from other manufacturers.
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