Editors' note: Portions of this review were taken from our Xperia X10 Mini review since both phones share the same features. We will, however, detail the X10 Mini Pro's design and performance differences.
If you love the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, but can't find room for it in your pocket, Sony Ericsson has options for you. Back in February at the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the company introduced two handsets that cram the Android multimedia experience into a device that can get lost in your pocket. The X10 Mini Pro shares the same features as its X10 Mini sibling, but the added physical keyboard makes for a much easier typing experience. Performance is improved over the X10 Mini, though we'd still appreciate more call volume. The GSM X10 Mini Pro is only sold unlocked in the United States, so it will cost you more than a carrier-subsidized handset. Sony Ericsson isn't releasing pricing at the time, but online retailers are selling it for as low as $325.
As with the X10 Mini, the most notable thing about the X10 Mini Pro is its diminutive size. Unlike almost every other smartphone on the planet, you can hide it behind a credit card, and if you have especially large mitts, you might be able to close your hand completely around it. At 3.3 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep, the X10 Mini Pro is slightly taller and thicker than its X10 Mini counterpart, but we'll gladly take the added bulk for a full keyboard. The X10 Mini Pro remains quite light (4.2 ounces), so you won't feel burdened carrying it around.
The 2.5-inch display and Sony Ericsson's User Experience interface are unchanged from the other phone. As we said before, the display is fine for browsing through menus and most basic features, but it's too small for higher-end functions. As with the X10 Mini, some will appreciate the compact size, whereas others will want something beefier. It's really up to you. Unfortunately, the X10 Mini Pro remains stuck on Android 1.6 even months after 2.0's release.
Below the display you'll find the same physical controls for the home screen menu and the main menu, and for moving backward through a menu. You must dial calls using the standard virtual keypad, though you can bang out messages and e-mails much faster using the physical keyboard. As you'd expect, the keyboard is fairly small, but the keys manage to have a relatively comfortable, spacious feel. We could type quickly and we like the stiff feeling of the keys. You won't find any shortcut controls, and numbers share space with letters, but basic punctuation is surfaced on the keyboard. For other punctuation and symbols, you must access an onscreen virtual keyboard. The space bar is in a convenient location in the center of the bottom row.
The slider mechanism is neither too sturdy nor too loose. The camera lens and flash also rest on the middle of the back side with the microSD card slot behind the battery cover. The remaining exterior features differ somewhat from the X10. The power/screen lock switch and 3.5mm headset jack sit on the phone's top end, the camera shutter and volume rocker are on the right spine, and the Micro-USB port for data syncing and charging rests on the left spine.
The X10 Mini Pro's phonebook size is limited by the available memory. As on other Android phones, you can add multiple fields per contact, plus a photo and a ringtone. You can save contacts to groups and sync them with various Google services. Of course, you can sync the handset's calendar to your Gmail calendar after you register your Google account. You also can sync contacts and the calendar with the Sony Ericsson Sync service.
Besides Gmail and the usual text and multimedia messaging, the X10 Mini Pro is capable of syncing with POP3 and some IMAP4 accounts. It's disappointing, however, that as on the X10 we weren't able to add our CNET Outlook Web Access account (OWA) using the standard e-mail app. Instead, you must the included RoadSync app to get both your e-mail messages and calendar appointments. The experience might be better, but we'd appreciate a native app.
As you'd expect, the X10 Mini Pro features Sony Ericsson's Timescape feature, which displays your latest e-mails, text messages, and social media alerts (Facebook, Twitter) in a flowing design that resembles a stacked deck of cards. The concept is very similar to MotoBlur in that it combines all of your e-mails, messages, contacts, and their status updates into a steady stream of information. As we've said earlier, it can be a bit much, and it's even more overwhelming on a smaller display (see the X10 for more information).