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Hands-On: Sony Ericsson Xperia Minis

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May 10, 2011, 3:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman
updated May 10, 2011, 4:12 PM

Sony Ericsson had its brand new Xperia Mini and Xperia Mini Pro Android devices on display at the Google I/O conference. Phone Scoop goes hands-on with these tiny titans.

Xperia Mini 

The Xperia Mini was on display in a device showcase at Google's I/O event today. This new handset is the latest to join the Sony Ericsson Xperia family, and follows closely in the footsteps of its mini predecessor.

As evidenced by my photos below, it is a tiny, though chubby, little phone. Sony Ericsson stuffed a lot of tech in its stocky frame. It is lightweight, the feel of the materials is good, and it feels really good in the hand despite its girth. It won't be a problem stuffing it into a pocket, but you'll know it is there.

Xperia Mini  

The controls are spread out between the top and sides of the phone. The power/lock button is on the top. It has a good feel to it. The volume toggle and dedicated camera key are positioned on the right edge of the phone. I am not a fan of either. I felt they were a bit difficult to find and use. The camera button, especially, is wedged into a depression in the Mini's surface that makes it hard to locate quickly. Also, due to the extremely small size of the Xperia Mini, it was awkward to use as a camera.

The hatch covering the microUSB port is unnecessarily bulky. It is simple enough to use, but it cheapens the look of the phone a bit in my opinion.

The latest Xperia Sony Ericsson skin on top of Android is the smoothest and fastest one we've seen yet. There are five home screens, all of which can be customized. The Xperia offers four "hot corners" which can each be stuffed with shortcuts for up to four different applications. This gives you quick(er) access to up to 16 applications above and beyond those on any of the given home screens. The new music player widget looks great, and I really like the way it handles album art.

Here's a short video of it in action.

Xperia Mini Pro 

The Xperia Mini Pro differs from its smaller sibling mostly because it has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. In order to accommodate the keyboard, Sony Ericsson stretched the length and width by a teeny bit, but made the Xperia Mini Pro much, much thicker. The overall feel of the materials and controls is almost identical to that of the Mini, right down to the annoyingly placed camera button.

Xperia Mini Pro  

Given that the major difference between the two is the keyboard, I am disappointed with Sony Ericsson's efforts. The slider mechanism isn't spring-loaded, and grinds open and shut. The four-row keyboard is spacious, but not overly wide thanks to the short stature of the phone.

The keys, however, are pretty bad. They have a grainy soft-touch covering on them that feels unpleasant under the thumb. THe keys are also too flat and have too little travel and feedback. I am disappointed that Sony Ericsson didn't do a better job with the keyboard.

It shares the same user interface as its smaller brother. Here's some video.

I/O Photos 

Just some random photos from around the event.


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About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.

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