On the left spine, you'll find a mini USB port, while the right side holds a volume rocker and a camera activation/capture button. The latter two controls are somewhat tiny so they're not the easiest to press; the volume rocker was particularly tricky, as it was hard to accurately press up or down while on a phone call. There's a 3.5mm headphone jack and a power button on top of the handset. The camera is located on the back, and there is a microSD expansion slot, but you have to remove the back cover to access it, which is an inconvenience. Also, a minor issue but worth mentioning: there's no release button or switch for the battery cover; you only get two little indentations on either side of the smartphone where you can pull it off with your fingernail, which wasn't always the easiest thing to do.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a 2GB microSD card, a wired headset, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
Behind all the flash of the panel interface lies another Windows Mobile smartphone. The Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition, so you get the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite and support for Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time message delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. In addition, you can access any POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts that you have; we configured our review unit to get our Yahoo Mail by simply entering our log-in ID and password and we were set up in just a couple of minutes. Other PIM tools include a task list, a notepad, a calculator, and a PDF reader. For added functionality, you can always download more applications, and there's even a shortcut included to the Handango store.
For Web browsing, the Xperia X1 ships with the Opera Mobile Web browser, in addition to the default Internet Explorer Mobile. There's also Windows Live integration and the aforementioned Google panel, which gives you quick access to search, Gmail, and Google Maps. On the Sony Ericsson panel, you can get Web feeds from up to 10 of your favorite sites, and you can choose how frequently you want to receive updates. As far as connecting to the Web, the smartphone offers integrated Wi-Fi and 3G. The X1 supports the 850/1900/2100 UMTS/HSDPA bands, which means to get the 3.5G speeds in the States, you'll need an AT&T SIM card. You'll still be able to make calls and surf the Web with a T-Mobile SIM, but it will only be on EDGE speeds since the carrier's 3G network runs on the 1700/2100MHz bands.
The Xperia X1's phone features include quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The phone book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, instant-messaging handles, and birthdays. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a picture, one of 41 polyphonic ringtones, or a group ID. Bluetooth 2.0 is also onboard for use with mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, and dial-up networking.
The smartphone also comes equipped with assisted GPS. To speed up the process of determining your location, the X1 also includes a utility called QuickGPS that we've seen on a few GPS-equipped smartphones; it downloads the latest satellite information via an Internet connection. While Google Maps for Mobile comes preloaded on the X1, you will only get text-based driving directions from the app. For real-time tracking and voice-guided prompts, you'll need a location-based service or online application like Wayfinder Navigation, which is provided on the software CD.
Sony Ericsson makes a big deal about the Xperia X1 being an all-in one device for both work and play, so it's no surprise there are a number of multimedia goodies. The X1's media interface is built to resemble Sony's other consumer electronics, including the PlayStation, the PSP, and the Bravia TV line, so it may look familiar to any owners of those products. The media player supports MP3, MP4, M4A, AAC(+), WMA, WAV, MIDI, MPEG-4, WMV and other music and video formats. Other goodies include podcast support, a streaming media player, and an FM radio, though you have to use the included headset for the latter. The X1 has about 400MB of onboard memory, and the expansion slot can accept up to 16GB cards.
Finally, the Xperia X1 comes equipped with a 3.2-megapixel camera with a number of advanced features. The camera's interface is based on Sony's CyberShot camera. For still images, there are five picture sizes, three quality settings, and six shooting modes. In addition to face detection, you can tap on an object on the screen to focus on it. There are also white balance options and various effects. These tools are also available for videos, and you have two scene options and two shooting modes.
Picture quality was pretty good. Colors looked almost true to life and while we thought there was a bit of softness to the image, we were still able to clearly identify objects in the photo. Video quality was also good. There was minimal pixelation, even during scenes were there was a bit of movement and action.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900/2100) Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 in San Francisco using AT&T service, and call quality was good. When making calls, we could hear a slight background hiss that subsided when our friends picked up. Audio was clear and there was very little voice distortion, and we used an airline's voice-automated response system with no problem. We also didn't experience any dropped calls during our test period. Friends had positive comments, saying that they couldn't tell we were using a cell phone and there was good sound.
Unfortunately, the speakerphone quality wasn't the greatest. Voices sounded a bit garbled and volume was weak. We were able to pair the X1 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones. Using AT&T's 3G network, the X1 took about 40 seconds to 1 minute to load graphics-intensive pages like CNET.com, while mobile sites for CNN and ESPN took about 10 seconds. As for multimedia performance, we watched a couple of WMV clips, which looked excellent on the X1's sharp display. Playback was smooth as the images and sound were synchronized, and there was minimal pixelation to the picture. Of course, it helped that we played high-quality video. As with most smartphones, we weren't particularly impressed with music playback through the phone's speakers. Songs sounded very brassy, but we suspect many users won't be listening to tunes this way, which is why we're thrilled to see the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack. We plugged in a pair of Shure E3s and enjoyed great sound quality.
Overall, the Xperia X1 was a responsive device. There's a slight lag when you activate a new panel, and some sluggishness when we had numerous applications open--typical Windows Mobile behavior. No system stalls or crashes, however. Despite the HSDPA support, we found the Web browsing to be a little pokey compared to other smartphones.
The Xperia X1 has a rated battery talk time of 6 hours on 3G and 10 hours on GSM/EDGE and up to 20 days of standby time. The Xperia X1 knocked out an impressive 9 hours of continuous talk time in our battery drain tests.