I’ve been using a Xperia X10 for the last couple of months courtesy of Rogers Wireless, who were kind enough to provided it to me as a review device / loaner. While I can’t say that the phone was great, it was performing much better than my HTC Magic running on the E911 update that was provided by HTC and mandated by Rogers.
My real gripe with the X10 was centered around the Timescape and Mediascape applications and the drain that they put the CPU and battery under. The applications are a great idea and the UI designers at Sony-Ericsson must have put a lot of thought into them. It’s just that the implementation on the X10 leaves quite a bit to be desired. Timescape in particular can at times almost bring the phone to a halt. Hopefully with the upcoming 2.1 upgrade, SE will have made the apps more efficient.
After I started using other applications to perform the same tasks that Timescape and Mediascape were performing and also using a little bit of discipline with my WiFi / GPS usage, I found that the extreme battery drain the X10 was experiencing had been somewhat alleviated. I was actually no longer having problems making it a full day on a single charge (as long as it wasn’t used too much).
I’ve really started to enjoy the X10 over the last several weeks since installing ADW-Launcher, Beautiful Widgets and MixZing Media Player on it. These apps, and others that I’ve been installing / using on the it certainly go a long way in showing what it’s capable of and in my opinion do a much better job than the included apps.
As a home replacement ADWLauncher is probably the best one that I’ve seen with maybe the exception of LauncherPro, which is not available for Android 1.6. Using ADWLauncher, you can have anywhere up to 7 home screens vs the stock 3 screens that come with the X10. In addition to having the Launcher2 (Android 2.1) fly in effects, it has the ability to dock app shortcuts on either side of the app drawer button. If you swipe upwards on the the drawer button there is an additional 6 spots for app shortcuts. Best thing about ADWLauncher is that it’s free in the Android Market.
Beautiful Widgets is a paid application from the Android Market that you can use to add some really nice looking control switches to your home screens. It includes functions such as Silent, Vibrate, Airplane Mode, GPS and WiFi. In addition you’ll find a home screen widget that incorporates a digital clock, calendar and weather. Clicking on the clock brings up the clock app, clicking on the date brings up the calendar app and clicking on the weather brings up a weather app.
MixZing Media Player is a nice simple player that’s available free from the Android market that packs in a lot of features and it has several different home screen widgets. If you want more from it, there is a paid upgrade to it available in the Market that’s supposed to enable many more features.
Other apps that I’ve been using instead of the stock apps would be Handcent SMS for messaging, Seesmic as a Twitter client and for what it’ s worth Facebook’s own app for keeping up to date on Facebook.
Now back to the title of the post “Death knell of a Xperia X10 (Original post title)”. So far I’ve not written anything about that because I just wanted you, the reader, to know first that I’m not griping about the X10. It’s actually been growing on me the more that I’ve used it. I’ll actually miss having it around, but it seams that the X10 has itself decided that yesterday was going to be the last day that I would be able to enjoy its company. It’s now sitting on the table beside me not able to boot. It’s only going through the Sony Ericsson splash screen and stopping with a big yellow triangle containing an exclamation mark.
I guess that I should have seen it coming (hind site is 20/20 after all). A couple of days ago, I started having problems with my Beautiful Widgets home screen widget not displaying the weather, this even though I could see it on another device that had Beautiful Widgets installed as well. I tried removing and replacing the widget but that didn’t work, so I ended up having to re-boot to get it to work again. And now that I think about it, over the last week or so I’ve had to reboot the X10 a few times for other problems as well.
Anyway, the night before (second time) the X10 didn’t charge when plugged into the wall charger. I thought no big issue, I’ll just plug it into my PC when I get to work. I Plugged it in there and it acted like it was charging so all was good (at least that’s what I thought).
Several hours later, I wanted to connect to WiFi to go get the latest Swype beta for the phone (Just got my invite). WiFi wasn’t connected and it should have been because I have the X10 set to always keep WiFi alive when connected. After attempting for several minutes to get WiFi to connect and failing (When turning on I was repeatedly kicked back to the home screen from the settings page), I decided that a reboot was in order. I powered down the phone and attempted to restart it but had no luck, the phone would not boot past the lock screen. It would get to the lock screen for a second or two and then right back to the Rogers splash screen for a min or so and then the screen would just go blank with a white bar across the top.
I then attempted to reboot by pulling the battery, which fielded no better results. I did however notice an odor that had no place in a properly functioning electronic device and the X10 was much hotter than normal.
On a whim I decided to give Rogers tech support a try to see what the had to say and the tech at the other end of the phone line tried to help me through a restore using Sony-Ericsson PC Companion. By the time we were done the x10 would no longer boot past the Sony-Ericsson splash screen, ending up on a screen with a yellow triangle that has an exclamation mark in it. Not the techs fault, probably something fried in the phone.
Seems strange that the death knell started ringing for the X10 when the Acer Liquid E review unit arrived from Rogers. Maybe the it wasn’t looking forward to the head to head competition that I had planned for them. Anyway I now have no excuse to put off my final review of the X10 and will be working on it over the next several days (Weather permitting).
I was called by a representative from Sony-Ericsson’s social media department this afternoon, actually only a few hours after I had posted this entry to my blog. I was pleasantly surprised at being contacted by SE directly, let alone how quickly considering that I hadn’t made an effort to contact their customer service. SE had even gone to the effort of going through Rogers to request that I supply them with a contact number (Thank you @RogersMary for passing that along). It wasn’t expected and I really appreciate it.
While I was speaking to the gentleman from SE social media, I was informed that SE was in the process of getting a replacement unit ready to be packaged up to send to me. I’ll return the defective unit to them so hopefully they will be able to analyze the failure and use the results to build an even better product in the future.
While we were on the phone we had a good chat about the X10 and what I thought of it. I let him know that I believe that it’s a well constructed device in regards to hardware but that SE implementation of their Custom UX User Interface made the phone feel more like a first generation device rather than one with some of the best hardware specs available. I passed on to him that SE needs to do some work with their Timescape and Mediascape applications to speed up the UI on them, after all a phone with a 1gh processor shouldn’t be having any sort of slow downs wen running Sony-Ericssons signature applications. I believe that he understood where I was coming from and will pass this feedback along to the SE development teams to hopefully reduce the amount of overhead processing required by the apps.
It’s SE’s first Android device and they really reached far on it, they were trying for a Jaguar but fell short and ended up with a Cadillac. Given some more time and effort I believe that SE will succeeded in reaching the lofty goals that they set for their UX User Interface. The future update to Android 2.1 will help in of itself but in my opinion SE should abandon 2.1 ideas and go directly to 2.2, Timescape and Mediascape are a couple of applications that would probably benefit from Froyo’s JIT implantation.