The hype is here – but is it good enough to hang with the big boys?

Since the Xperia X10 release way back in April 2010 there have been a load of smartphones released. We are talking iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy, HTC EVO, Droid 2, G2, etc.

These are all top smartphones of right now and they have all been running newer OSs. All of the Android handsets were running 2.1 on their release date. Except for Xperia X10, who have lagged way behind the competition with 1.6.

Now, about 7 months later, 2.1 for Xperia X10 have arrived. And of course, only the X10i Nordic handsets have the 2.1 update first. But thanks to the developers at XDA-Developers, we can now flash our X10a or X10i to the latest and greatest of what Sony Ericsson has to offer.

Right off the bat, the phone ‘feels’ smoother. However, issues still remain – unlock phone screen is a pain. They threw away that curved arrow and gave us a straight up horizontal bar to unlock the phone. The problem is still the same from 1.6 – it takes a few swipes to get the phone unlocked. Pretty annoying if you are busy and need the phone to function right away.

The overall feel of the phone has changed. Contact lists, dialer, power control bar, etc. They all have changed. Mostly for the better. But c’mon Sony Ericsson! The whole theme of the phone is BLUE and BLACK yet the Power Control Bar is in Green and Black and nothing of it looks like it fits the phone. *cough lazy developers? *cough

The sound quality seemed better. I’ll know better when I get a phone call today. I’ve tested the quality with Google Voice and so far, it’s been better. Still on the low side, but compared to what it was 6-7 months ago, it’s an improvement.

Doesn’t look like the improvement the camera application. The overall look of the application is still largely unchanged. And it seems they’ve added HD recording at 720p. Which is a plus and definitely nice to know that a phone 6-7 months old is capable of HD video recording. Not bad at all.

However the camera application is still slow like a snail. Just like in 1.6. So while I’m impressed with the fact that I can record 720p, the application is slow and laggy. Not flash for the camera so that’s a big minus. Hopefully they’ve fixed the Geotagging feature as previously it was showing that my pictures were taken in China somewhere while I snapped them up in California.

Timescape –

So, the thing that makes Xperia X10 is Timescape. It’s basically this single app that is suppose to bring social networks to you, at your finger tips. Not a lot of people were impressed with it when it was released and I’m still not impressed with it now – other than the fact that it’s way smoother to scroll through. But there are some lingering issues that have NOT been addressed.

Twitter photos look like shit. Absolute craptastic resolution. Yet Facebook photos/pictures are flawless? It didn’t make sense then and it still doesn’t make sense now.

I’m not sure if Timescape was a good idea. I mean in ‘theory’ I can see why someone would create something like this. But in reality, the phone can’t really handle it. What I mean by that is – it takes way too long to load up Timescape. It’s fancy and all but I think that fanciness takes away from the performance. While Timescape is much, much smoother to scroll through, you have to give it about 15 seconds for it to load up otherwise if you want to scroll through the spines, the screen will most likely hang for a while.

Mediscape –

Nothing changed. I personally like Mediascape where it brings everything together – photos, videos and music. The interface is so-so but at least it functions well. Though I wish SE would take a page from Meridian, the music player and allow us to scroll through songs by flicks.

So what’s great about 2.1?

Well, you can actually use the official Twitter app. I know, right? There are a bit more applications you can now use, and the most important one – LauncherPro.

Forget what you know about the stock Launcher for Android. I would say all across the board, LauncherPro is easily the greatest Launcher App out there.

It gives you great customization such as scrolling speeds, application opening speed, drawer customization, etc.

Basically, LauncherPro gives you a better Android experience. And their own widgets are very easily to use and gives you a lot of functionality. You got to pay for them, but it is very well worth it.

There are other things that I haven’t touched on but they are mostly the same from 1.6. I will not comment on the battery life as I have no used it enough.

So let’s wrap things up.

The Good –

Faster than 1.6
Better and smoother scrolling
More apps to get and use (Twitter, LauncherPro)
HD 720p Video Recording

The Bad –

Keyboard not too responsive
Call Volume still on the low side but better than before
Mediascape still lacks apps and games

The Ugly –

Still Slow
Still no Multi-Touch (yet the hardware is capable of such)
Timescape is still well behind the likes of say MotorBlur
Still no Flash for the Camera
Still 65k colors while the screen supports 16 M colors

Looks like I’ll be back on my Nexus One in no time. I’d give myself like 1 week before I go crawling back to the good o’ N1.