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Back to the Xperia X10

10 months ago I was given a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone [1] to replace my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. I also installed Cyanogenmod on it (here is a more detailed comparison of the phones with a focus on liberty [2]). But now I’m using the Xperia X10 again.

Hardware Reliability

Some time ago a friend told me that he bought a Sony phone in preference to a Samsung phone because he didn’t think that Samsung phones were reliable enough. I assured him that Samsung phones would be fine if you used a gel-case, but now I’m not so sure. My mother in law has a Samsung Galaxy S which now has a single crack across the face, it doesn’t appear that her phone was dropped, maybe it just bent a bit – it’s a fairly thin phone. My Galaxy S started crashing over the last few months and now many applications will crash any time I use 3G networking. Currently my Galaxy S is working well as a small Wifi tablet and hasn’t crashed since I replaced the SIM with one that has expired.

I wish that phone designers would make mode solid products with bigger batteries. The fact that the Xperia X10 weighs maybe 20g more than the Galaxy S (according to Wikipedia) isn’t a problem for me. Even with the Mugen Power 1800mah battery [4] to replace the original 1500mah battery it’s still nowhere near the limit of the phone mass that I’m prepared to carry.

Sony Upgrades

Some time ago Sony released an Android 2.3.3 image for the Xperia X10. There is no Cyanogenmod image for the Xperia X10 because it has been locked down which greatly limits what can be done. Also Sony has a proprietary backup program on their Android 2.1 image which isn’t supported on Android 2.3.3 – this inspired my post about 5 principles of backup software [3]. Due to this pain I didn’t even try to upgrade the Xperia X10 phones for me and my wife until recently.

Before upgrading the Xperia X10 phones I was unable to use my wife’s phone. The phone didn’t seem to like recognising my touch so long touch actions (such as unlocking the phone) were almost impossible for me. I think that this is due to the fact that I have fairly dry skin which presumably gives me a higher capacitance. After the upgrade both phones are usable for me, so presumably either Sony or Google upgraded the algorithms for recognising touch to work better with varying screen quality.

Comparing the Galaxy S and the Xperia X10

When I first started running Cyanogenmod on the Galaxy S I noticed that it was a lot faster than the Xperia X10 but I didn’t know why. It was documented that there had been performance improvements in Android 2.2. Now that I’m running Android 2.3.3 on the Xperia X10 I know that the performance difference is not due to the Android version. It could be due to Cyanogenmod optimisations or Sony stupidity, but it’s most likely due to hardware differences.

The Galaxy S has more RAM and storage which allows installing and running more applications. Now that I’m using the Xperia X10 for the bare minimum applications (phone calls, SMS, camera, email, ssh, and web browsing) it works quite well. I still play games on the Galaxy S and use it for more serious web browsing via Wifi. I think that the value I’m getting from the Galaxy S as a tiny wifi tablet is greater than the money I might get from selling a partially broken phone that’s been obsoleted by two significantly better models.

Conclusion

The camera on the Xperia X10 is significantly better than the one on the Galaxy S, so going back to a phone that has a great camera is a real benefit. But being slow and locked down is a real drag. I was tempted to buy a Samsung Galaxy Note or Galaxy S3, but it seemed like a bad idea to buy a phone given that my contract comes up for renewal in about 6 months which means I’ll be offered a “free” phone which while not really free is still going to be cheaper than buying a phone outright.

Also in future given the low opinion I’m now getting of smart phone reliability I’ll try and keep a small stock of spare Android phones to cover the case of broken phones.

3 comments to Back to the Xperia X10

  • On resilience… I’m not sure what the other folks with cracked iPhone screens are doing, but I’ve dropped mine (3GS) on hard surfaces (including concrete and tiles) quite a few times over the ~2.5 years that I’ve had it, and it doesn’t even have a scratch (even a tiny one) on the screen, nevermind a crack. It does have a scratch or two on the back, and hairline cracks near the headphone and sync cable cutouts.

    For the first year or so I had my 3GS protected by a rubber-ish bumper case, but it got annoying and I’ve used the phone “naked” ever since.

    This is very, very far from what I’d expected when I got it. Impressed. Maybe these other folks are hitting their phones with hammers…

  • There is a CyanogenMod 9 for the Xperia X10:
    http://get.cm/?device=es209ra

  • etbe

    John: It depends a lot on the angle that you drop it. I saw an article which claimed that dropping a tablet on it’s corner was the guaranteed way to smash it while dropping it on it’s face wouldn’t. Maybe the way you drop your phone causes it to land in a safe manner?

    Anyway I always use the “gel” cases for smart phones and when I help someone setup their phone I insist that they get one. The case costs about $10, gives you a better grip, keeps the face off the table when you put it face-down, and should reduce the impact of any fall. When I first started using a gel case I planned to stop using it about 6 months before my contract ran out and take the risk of using a phone with a cracked screen for a few months, but the extra grip justifies it.

    Seegras: Thanks for the information but that’s a nightly build, it’s probably fun to play with but not something that I’m going to use for important phone calls. Also last time I checked the non-Sony development for the X10 didn’t have camera support, have they fixed that? One of the reasons I chose the Xperia X10 is that it had one of the best cameras available in a phone at that time and I really don’t want to lose that.