The Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 smartphone is without a doubt the hottest mobile from Sony Ericsson this year - find out why in this review.
The idea behind the X-Panel is solid, the execution less so. Much of the information is shown in duplicate (in some cases triplicate) on the screens which feels a bit unnecessary, but our main concern is the speed. It takes a few seconds just to open the X-Panel, another few seconds to open the media library. Most of the other screens pop up quickly in low-resolution mode but then are locked from use for yet another few seconds before the high-res version kicks in.
Another minus is the frequent appearance of graphical glitches, where elements from one panel get stuck on-screen after you've moved on. We're pretty certain that the bugs can be fixed with a firmware update but a phone should simply not contain so much lag in our opinion. As a comparison the HTC Touch Flo 3d interface works very fast and seamlessly - at least on the Touch Pro.
Another thing that bothers us is the lack of features we've come to associate with Sony Ericsson; things that have been instrumental in making its own phones better. The music player is somewhat recognisable from the Walkman phone product line, as long as it can handle the music format.
Otherwise you are redirected to a somewhat messy mobile version of the Windows Media Player. Entertaining add-ons like remote media handling via Bluetooth or the Track ID song-recognition feature are also lacking, and will probably remain so. Not even the music store Play Now Arena is adapted to the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 in spite of the massive plugging Sony Ericsson has done in other channels.
The same goes for the camera. Sony Ericsson's Cybershot line has traditionally been at the forefront among cameraphones, but the 3.2Mp camera and software in the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 are of standard Windows Mobile quality - which translates to pretty ropey.
On a more positive note we'd like to mention the range of applications in the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1; always the big strength of Windows Mobile. Apart from MSN Messenger and the Office package, among many other things, Opera has replaced Internet Explorer as the standard web browser, which is an improvement (however, IE is still implemented for those who'd prefer it), and Google Maps is also installed. While we prefer Google Maps for handling of maps in general, we would have liked to see the navigation, and especially the exercise mode, from Wayfinder that has been a previous Sony Ericsson feature, to have been included here as well.
On the whole, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 is an impressive phone, and together with the HTC Touch Pro it's probably the best Windows Mobile-based smartphone so far. The cons here are its annoying slowness and the fact that Sony Ericsson in some cases have taken the easy route with the existing Windows features instead of implementing its own, superior ones for the platform. Much of this criticism can be fixed, it's mainly about killing bugs and speeding up the software, but our long-term requests would be that the next Xperia phone takes better care of Sony Ericsson's strong heritage. Especially so, since it seems that we'll have to wait some more for the release of the next-generation Windows Mobile.