Thursday, November 25, 2010

Supplemental Review: X10 Mini Pro running Eclair (2.1)

Since the update came out, SonyEricsson has finally decided to let it's X10 family out of the stone age running Android Donut (1.6) into the 20th century to join the rest of the herd running the current Android Eclair (2.1)...  I'm still wondering why SonyEricsson didn't just skip over Eclair all together and hit the latest FroYo (2.2) version of Android instead.  Oh well.

Anyway, how different is it?  And is it worth the wait?  Well, yes and no.  Don't get me wrong, it's a GREAT update... but starving your customers to release a non-earth-shattering update doesn't win SE any points.

The update itself is relatively painless.  Sony Ericsson has a great internal back-up and restore function that saves all your messages, missed calls, etc so you can easily restore most of your phone after the update.  Apps that are not compatible with 2.1 have to be replaced with alternate apps all together.  No big deal though.

First up, it is faster.  Not by much, but on the Mini Pro, it's a welcome upgrade.  Running 600MHz, any speed increase is a blessing.  Had the update been to FroYo, the tiny CPU on the Mini Pro would've really been given a well needed boost.  But I'll take what I can get.

Rooting... Since I don't primarily run Windows anymore, I'd rather not have to hook up my Mini Pro and root it through a computer.  UniversalAndRoot no longer works, but Z4 does the same job... one click root and unroot.  It's just a lot slower to root now.

Barnacle Wifi works a lot better and way more stable.  For those that are still experiencing drops when the phone goes to sleep, enable WEP security.  This, for some reason, lets your device bypass the need for re-association with Barnacle even after long periods of inactivity.

Although not a new app... I wasn't fond of Launcher Pro running on 1.6 and preferred ADW... but Launcher Pro is waaaaay faster and more responsive than ADW is, running 2.1.

Apps that can now run well on 2.1 and the Mini Pro:

  • Skype
  • Kik (so much better than Pingchat)
  • Official YM (a bit battery hungry but it does work quite well)
  • Gmail!!!!  Yes, Android's own app is actually usable now.  I was able to ditch K9 Email all together.  One gripe, you can't change font sizes, something that K9 could do.  Very useful on the small screen of the Mini Pro.
  • Official Twitter app

Things that have changed in Eclair:

  • Official Send Via Bluetooth!
  • Multiple Google Accounts, full contact, email, and calendar sync between multiple accounts.
  • Power widget looks better, as does the Settings Menu
  • Auto-brightness is now permanent.  No more setting to disable it.
  • Automatic contact list integration between Google, phone, Facebook, and Twitter.  Although it looks like there are double entries, there aren't.  You can join contacts and consolidate all your addressbooks easily and automatically.  This is a big deal for me.
  • Timescape is a bit faster now and more integrated into the Contacts app... not perfect, but getting there.  SE should move faster on developing this app.
  • Unlock screen is new... annoying that you can't disable the haptic feedback of the unlock screen... I think it's a useless feature that wastes the little battery that the Mini Pro has.
  • As much as I like the 4-corner UI of SonyEricsson, the app drawer is too cluttered and difficult to organize over LauncherPro or ADW.  I really do love the 4-corner approach.  But the app drawer is just a deal-breaker.
  • Camera response is a lot faster, but start-up time is still slow.  No additional functions have been added, nor has picture quality and low-light sensitivity been improved.  Too bad.
  • New signal indicator differentiating 3G and HSPA connectivity.
  • Live Wallpaper.  This chews up battery like crazy specially if not properly coded.  Cute and fun, but not very useful.  Specially on the limited battery life of the Mini Pro.
Over-all great, but its a LONG OVER DUE update, and quite frankly, I can't understand what took SE so long to bring it to their products.  Let's hope they don't abandon a FroYo update soon because the only thing holding back their sales is poor software support.

Part 2 (Camera and Battery)

Past Tech Gospels

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