The Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini is adorably tiny, but promises to be packed with smart-phone features, thanks to its Android operating system. Its 3-inch touchscreen also means this compact phone looks thoroughly usable.
The box contains:
- Sony Ericsson Xperia mini
- Wall charger with detachable microUSB cable
- MH410 GreenHeart handsfree
- 2GB microSD card
- Additional back cover in different color
- Lots of papers
In reality, what this means is you get a small 3″ capacitive display running at 320×480 resolution. It’s surprisingly sharp and bright, though, with icons and text easily readable even outdoors in bright light.
The power button sits on the top edge of the phone. The left-hand side is featureless apart from an arbitrary silver strip, while the other edge has the volume up/down rocker and a very nice, soft-touch camera button.
Sony Ericsson has torn up the design rules and placed the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom of the phone, which is also where the USB connector sits.
The big, physical Home button is easy to find without fuss, while the new capacitive Back and Menu buttons are large and easy to find without having to think about it.
Above the screen sits a proximity sensor, allowing the phone to deactivate its touchscreen while making a call, to stop you embarrassing yourself by pressing “end call” with your ear.
The back has a nice, matte, rubberised coating, so it’s grippy and sticky in the hand. Despite its size, the Xperia Mini is a perfectly usable smartphone.
Small in dimension, big on experience. The Xperia mini fits in your pocket, so you never miss a thing. Record your memories in HD video. Change your status and chat with your friends. Love music? Have a favourite game? Personalise the four corners of the home screen with 16 apps. But first you’ll need to choose from over 250,000 on Android Market.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Sony Ericsson have that covered with the Timescape UI. The mini inherits the corner-based homescreen from the previous generation of minis, but Sony Ericsson have done some extra work on it.
The corner UI aside, the rest of the interface is pretty much similar to what we saw in the Arc, the Neo and the Play – though resized to fit the HVGA resolution.
You pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homescreen panes and a new pane sets in with a cool transition effect to display all of your active widgets.
Now let’s see about the four corner tabs on the homescreen. They can host up to four shortcuts each, as easy to assign as a simple drag-and-drop. You drag an icon over another and a pop-up appears, prompting you to select a name and layout for the new folder.
The messaging department of Android values simplicity in design and is very easy to use. All SMS/MMS communication is organized into threads.
Each thread is laid out as an IM chat session, the latest message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them (against deletion). You can use search to find a specific message in all conversations.
The Quick Contacts feature only works in separate messages, not in the whole thread. You can also activate delivery reports.
There’s a 5-megapixel camera on the Sony Ericsson Xperia mini – a respectable offering for the mid-end zone. Thankfully, the shooter is
also capable of recording 720p video. The interface is again very playful, in tune with the rest of the software on the phone.
Sony Ericsson’s music player is very friendly, with big buttons for easy navigation. You have lots of different goodies to play with, like equalizer settings and the xLOUD option, which should enhance the loudness of the speaker.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia mini has the full set of connectivity options: quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and tri-band HSPA with download rates of up to 7.2 Mbps and upload at 5.76 Mbps.
It offers Wi-Fi (b/g/n) with DLNA support, USB v2.0 and Bluetooth 2.1. If you want to use the phone for DLNA, you should use the dedicated Connected Devices application.
The inbuilt storage is 400MB only, though additional storage can be added with a microSD card. The phone ships with a 2GB memory card, which has only 750MB of free space.
The Xperia Mini features a 1200MaH battery, which is at the lower end of what we’d expect to find in a modern smartphone but understandable in a smaller unit.
Sony Ericsson itself rates the battery as good for 4.5 hours of talk time, or a ridiculously optimistic 340 hours of standby time according to the weird rules by which that’s calculated.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Specification
Web use is good considering the limitations of the screen size. The 1GHz processor, proper multitouch zooming and simple text reflowing really make the best of the 3″ display, plus text is sharp and perfectly readable, plus Flash support is a bonus.
The camera output is a little crazy. Trees don’t just come out green, they come out luminous, fluorescent, bright, electric green, with reds and other strong colours often equally over-emphasised. It can make you photos look like they’ve gone through some sort of psychedelic hipster filter.
- Different, ultra-compact design
- Custom UI full of little treats
- Camera could be better
- Soft-touch coating on the back doesn’t feel good
Software version of the reviewed unit: Android 2.3.3, Build: 4.0.A.2.368