Android phones are quite complicated. The different versions (Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo) denote what kind of dessert you’re being treated to at the Android app buffet.
Each version brings more features, but the upgrade involves more complications. The end user may have to wait for months to get updates after purchase. The HTC Hero got the 2.1 firmware update in India only last week. For its users, it was like an extra dollop of cream with a cherry on top. However, of the dozen Android phones available in India, a majority of them are still riding on version 1.5 or 1.6, and might never see version 2.1 or 2.2 before the end of their mobiles’ lifecycle.
Most manufacturers using the Android OS regard it as the vanilla ice cream layer, and insist on serving it with nuts and chocolate to demand a hefty premium over affordable feature phones. Probably, the best example of this is HTC’s Sense UI (user interface) overlay. Other manufacturers including Samsung, LG, and Acer, have made their own UI skins (overlays).
Sony, of course, with all its design and lifestyle aspirations associated with the brand has added plenty of chique to the geek on the Sony Ericsson Xperia series.
While most geeks take to Androids like ducks to water, I’m not sure if most people care about running an open standards OS on their handsets. Statistics on Androids show that males have a higher preference for this. In contrast, the X10 Mini, aka E10i, is preferred by the ladies.
Specs wise, the Xperia X10 is similar to the HTC Tattoo. It runs on Android 1.6 (Donut), and is priced at around the same range. It betters the former with a capacitive screen which has dual-touch capability. This allows two-finger interaction and gestures like pinch, pivot and rotate. Also notable is its 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, and the ability to record VGA resolution video at 30 FPS.
The Xperia X10 Mini has a proprietary UI implementation called Timescape, that brings data from all your communication nodes -- SMS, email, missed calls, Facebook and Twitter updates chronologically on the homescreen. So, you don’t have to open each app to see what’s going on. I experienced little or no lag on this phone and found the battery life tolerable, thanks to its smaller screen.