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Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini review

 Review: August 2011  

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: Sony Ericsson have succeeded in creating a super-compact smartphone that doesn't compromise on user experience, speed or power.

Today's best buy: Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pr ... from Amazon (£0)



When Sony Ericsson call a phone Mini, they really mean it. The Xperia Mini is a tiny smartphone. It's just a nibble larger than the older Xperia X10 Mini, but it will easily fit inside almost any kind of pocket or bag. It's quite thick though, at 16mm, so it might cause a bulge in a jeans pocket, although the extra thickness does give you something substantial to hold onto. Whilst compact, it nevertheless manages to feel like a quality product, thanks to a solid build and a weight of nearly 100g.

The Xperia Mini is an update of the older X10 Mini, and it's almost the same phone, except that there have been a number of improvements that go a long way to overcoming the problems inherent in making such a small smartphone. The main issues in the original X10 Mini were the small screen size, poor battery life and limitations imposed by using an old version of Android. We're pleased to report that the new Mini is a lot better than the old one in almost every respect.

First of all, the screen resolution has been increased to 320 x 480 pixels, which is a big improvement as it means that many more Android apps will now fit on the screen. Another improvement is the QWERTY virtual keyboard. Next, it uses the Bravia engine first seen on the Xperia Arc, which makes the colours and contrast nothing short of brilliant. It's still a physically tiny screen though, even though it's grown from 2.55 inches to 3 inches, and you have to accept that fact as part of the design ethos. You can't have a giant multimedia screen on a compact phone! Sony Ericsson have worked hard on the user interface to customise Android for the small screen, and their corner-based UI works well. Up to 16 apps live in expandable folders in the four corners of the home screen, and you'll find a lot of icons and info packed into the notification bar at the top of the screen. You can also drag stuff onto any of the 5 home screens. We think that as long as you're willing to accept the basic compromise that the compact design requires, you'll find the Xperia Mini to be a very workable implementation of a mini smartphone.

One of the problems with the X10 Mini was that it used an ancient version of the Android operating system. You needn't worry though - the new Mini has been updated to run Android 2.3.

When it comes to using the internet, we run into the basic size compromise again. You can view web pages on the Mini with full flash support, and they load quickly enough, but they're mighty small on the screen. You can pan and zoom around the page using the touchscreen, but you just keep banging up against the screen size all the time and the experience is generally frustrating. On the other hand, watching youtube videos works perfectly well, and the facebook and twitter integration is very good indeed, with Sony Ericsson making a lot of customisations to the Android OS to embed this functionality into the core features of the phone. For instance, facebook events appear automatically in the phone's calendar and facebook albums can be browsed from the phone's gallery. Your facebook friends are also imported automatically into your contacts data.

The power at the heart of the device has also been increased, with a much faster 1GHz processor providing all the speed necessary for a small phone, and the onboard memory and RAM increased to a generous 320MB and 512MB respectively. The phone also supports microSD memory cards up to 32GB, which should be more than adequate for this type of phone.

The camera exceeded our expectations. For a low-cost phone that's so small, we didn't have high hopes here, but the 5 megapixel camera is better than most even on default settings. If you want to, you can use a whole load of advanced features such as image stabilisation, smile detection and suchlike, and there's a very powerful 8x digital zoom too. Even better, the video records at up to 720p HD resolution, and there's a video light for low light situations. There's even a video editor app.

Music is good on the Xperia Mini. As well as having the convenience and ease of use of Sony's music player, with an FM radio too, the phone features Sony's new xLOUD engine, which does pretty much what it says, blasting out your music a lot louder than many phones. Audio quality is surprisingly good for such a tiny device, and call quality is excellent.

The phone comes with aGPS, which feeds your location into Google Maps. This works well enough, even on the small screen, and is fast, especially if you're in a 3G zone. The WisePilot Turn-by-Turn navigation software is also supplied, but only as a demo version.

One of the bugbears of the original X10 Mini was the poor battery life. The Xperia Mini sadly isn't much better in this regard. The battery has only 1200mAh capacity, which is understandable for such a small phone, but the demands of Android and all the tech packed into the device mean that your phone won't last that long between charges. We'd guess most people will be charging every other day.

So, to sum up, Sony Ericsson have succeeded in delivering a super compact smartphone that really manages to balance the benefits of such a tiny device with the necessary compromises. Whilst other manufacturers are seeming just to build larger and larger smartphones, it's refreshing to find something different. Sony Ericsson have really learned from the older X10 Mini phone, and have fixed almost every problem that they found. The new Xperia Mini is better, faster, smarter, more responsive, more up to date and just more fun than the old one. Only the limited battery life remains an issue. We love the Xperia Mini and we think that anyone looking for the benefits of a smartphone without the size will love it too. Better still, it's very affordable as well.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini features include:

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini user reviews

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Average rating from 26 reviews:

Reviewed by j byrne from ulk on 26th Feb 2013
Had for 1 year no problems.
No desire to change.

Reviewed by wai tak from hong kong on 8th Aug 2012
I had my SE xperia x10 mini first and I loved it. When the Xperia Mini came out in Nov 2011 in the HK market, I immediately bought one without thinking. However it disappointed me in the beginning for the followings:
1. bluetooth had problems in recognising other BT devices, even my original x10 mini.
2. Camera's quality was not as good as the x10 mini (my personal opinion).
3. in less than 40 days, the touch screen went on & off frequently even without touching. Eventually it could not be used. I had to admit it was surprisingly cheap for this phone, only HK$1450 in Nov 2011. However the touch screen replacement costed half of the purchase price! (the service person told me the first shipment of Xperia Mini to HK & China was poor in its touch screen and he had received a lot of complaints/work on it.)

Apart from what mentioned above, I am satisfied with it especially with Android 4.0.3 installed. It is a great smart phone with loads of features, running fast, good music player and camera, all fitted in one tiny device. I have no problems in using it to read news. The only reason I want a replacement is - it is not a good e-book reader because of some pdf documents cannot be fitted well on its 3 inch screen.

Reviewed by Jad from UK on 18th Jun 2012
A perfect simple handset which has so many features in its small size,get one soon!

Reviewed by Michelle from Scotland on 27th May 2012
I loved this phone at the start, I'd say the fault started about 2-3 months after I got it. It would heat up after charging and the touch buttons begin to do they're own thing, but now its when charging, on the phone, on the internet or just general use. Highly irritating! Would not reccommend.

Reviewed by Jeff from UK on 24th May 2012
Buyers should be aware there is a serious fault with the Xperia Mini ST15i and there is a lot of internet discussion about this. (Enter a search string such as 'malfunctioning xperia mini' for example).
The context menu keeps appearing and disappearing involuntarily after a few minutes usage rendering the phone unusable. Apparently the fix is for Sony to re-calibrate the phone at their Service Centres.
I do not know if any other Xperia phones are affected.
My phone started exhibiting these symptoms a few weeks after I bought it.

Reviewed by Buddy from UK on 17th May 2012
I've had this phone for the last 9 months and have loved every single second of it! This outstanding little powerhouse of a phone somehow manages to sail above any serious criticism. It's been pretty much perfect for me in every conceivable way! Its compact size (BTW it's not 'too small' for surfing or texting as perhaps its predecessor the X10 Mini was) and premium looks alone make it stand out from the crowd as something quite special, and perhaps just as seminal in its time as the iPhone4 or Galaxy S2. This is a phone of real personality, and just as importantly it works really well as the whole package has been carefully thought out and well executed. Frankly, even though it lacks outright their flagship features, it's still one of the few phones that I think has a real head turning capability/ WOW! factor (especially in white) to compete genuinely with the aforementioned phones and make you dismiss them as overhyped items, and even more remarkably it does so at a fraction of their price. A winner all the way! Well done SE!!

Reviewed by Pete from UK on 16th May 2012
I bought one of these as a back up to my Xperia Play and its a great ickle phone. It all works well enough, especially as it only costs 100 now. The music player sounds even better than the Plays! My only negative is the auto screen dimness makes the screen a tad flickery at times. My missus has the Live with Walkman phone which is even better than the Xperia mini.
I think the negative reviews on here, may in fact be reviews of the X10 mini. Just a thought.

Reviewed by John F from UK on 24th Apr 2012
This is my 3rd Android. I am impressed with the camera and the size of the handset which fits in my shirt pocket easily.

I have no trouble accessing the official Android market at all and the advantage of Android Gingerbread is the ability to store apps on the SD card.

Battery life is no worse than my previous handsets and I charge it every night as a routine. I also use battery savers and Android Assistant to extend it. It isn't as good as my partner's Galaxy SII, I admit, but it is only 1/3 of its cost.

Overall, good value for money.

Reviewed by Raj from India on 14th Apr 2012
I bought my new sonyericsson xperia mini 7 days ago. The battery is horrible. It does not come atleast 1 hour. So, i request you to check the battery power before purchasing this product.

Reviewed by Michelle from UK on 5th Apr 2012
Worst phone ever. Never charges with any charger, bad battery life, very unresponsive screen, takes very long to open and close applications, android market doesn't work, sends 30+ texts to contacts when it's turned on and off again, takes a long time to take photo's. If i could give it 0 stars, i would.

Reviewed by Madi from italy on 27th Mar 2012
very bad bluetooth,the device can detect the other devices but can not connect with them,moreover the android market not work

Reviewed by no_data from UK on 8th Mar 2012
If I could marry a mobile without being arrested this would be it, had the original X10 mini & loved it but then made the mistake of getting an iPhone 4s & sorry, but for 500 it really does not do anything that this baby can't. Battery life is great with juice defender & everything else is awesome. Luvvin it.

Reviewed by bbbysherry from uk on 3rd Feb 2012
its just brilliant so much for your money its as good as my galaxy2s but smaller well done s/e

Reviewed by dukester from uk on 13th Jan 2012
simply outstanding- does everything, the perfect size- apps work better than on bigger phones, and i LOVE it!! i've been thru' loads of different phones and this is the one i've been waiting for! all it needs now is the android 4.0 update and away we go!! + it takes a 32mb sd card!

Reviewed by Dry seasons from Latvia on 7th Jan 2012
Absolutely Brill !!!!! But dry !!!!! Mammy !!!!!

Reviewed by Ken Mavor from UK on 12th Dec 2011
Had this little phone for 3 months now. Didn't want an Iphone or a big phone and wanted android. This phone is small but powerful and support (ie android upgrades from Sony) is good. Does everything I need and want from a good small phone. Battery life is just acceptable but installing Juice Defender makes it last 2/3 days depending on usage. Would recommend this phone to anyone.

Reviewed by PF from UK on 13th Nov 2011
I am really impressed with this phone. The screen quality is great. A compact handset with a good-sized screen is a great combination. Sound quality is good. So far, the processor speed has been fine: I have used it to play BBC iplayer videos over wifi with no issues and have found it to have no issues with the apps that I have downloaded from the android market. My only issue has been finding a good protective cover to protect the unit: there are plenty for the iPhone and Blackberry but options are few for the Xperia Mini. In summary, a great phone at a reasonable price.

Reviewed by Richard Smith from UK on 2nd Nov 2011
Just an update to my earlier review and still loving the phone and now that android seems to have got used to my way of using the phone and the battery has had a fair few charges the battery performance really isn't a problem and I get just as much as I did from my HTC Wildfire, yes I'm charging every night but it gets good use during the day without a problem. Great work Sony I'm glad I came back. Giving it the extra star now.

Reviewed by Omair Khan from Saudi Arabia on 25th Oct 2011
super cool,mighty little monster!!! I am glad I bought this mob!! Beautiful camera, nice display.Anybody have battery problem plzz install juice defender App on the market it will surely will give you expected results !

Reviewed by Sarah from Uk on 6th Oct 2011
This is a brilliant little phone, clear camera and the screen colours are bright with many apps to download. I would highly recommend it, particularly because it is relatively inexpensive. If you're looking for a new phone this is definitely the one to buy!

Reviewed by fazil from india on 25th Sep 2011
Best mobile with good features igive 5 star

Reviewed by Druh from Philippines on 21st Sep 2011
Had the phone for a week and what can I say. It's stellar. An Amazing Little Phone w/ a monster capabilities! I highly recommend this to all who is looking for a great phone with a tight budget. The sensitivity of the screen is great. It does not lag AT ALL. I love every bit of it: from the camera to the Four-Corner UI. SE has done it this time. I just wish people will take a look at SE's android portfolio for 2011 as they are all good! SE rocks!

Reviewed by Richard Smith from UK on 17th Sep 2011
Love the phone but the battery sucks big style I've also bought a bigger battery for it and still its bad. If you want this phone to last a night out take a spare battery as 4 hours is about the norm at the mo . If I don't use anything and just pop on it every now and then you get longer but a phone is for using not keeping in your pocket. Rant over sort the battery out and its an amazing little phone that does everything asked of it. Also I love the little thing as a device its top notch.

Reviewed by Tom from UK on 5th Sep 2011
My first smartphone after using a Nokia 6303 Classic before. I've had it a few days, and not having used android before it's taken a little time to get used to some of the 'idiosyncrasies', but I'm used to it now and the user interface is very good. The things I was worried about, such as the small screen and not having a physical keypad have not been a problem - texting using the numeric keypad option is very easy and the predictive text is good - very few glitches - I input using my thumb old-school Nokia style, so no problem for a fat fingers. The screen is crystal clear and the size is fine for facebook, photos and videos, browsing is good but the screensize means you sometimes forget where you are on the page, but the +/- buttons and text re-flow help. Whilst the phone is small in plan, it's thicker than most, which means it's not quite so easy to slip into a tight pocket, but I wasn't keen on the size of some of the leading smartphones. Currently available at 150+10 top up on Orange or T-Mobile from a highstreet independant (unlocked) - for the processor power and smoothness of the interface that's great value and lifts it to 5 stars for me.

Reviewed by alex from eastbourne on 31st Aug 2011
just purchased phone and been using it for a week now,im a bit of a mobile phone geek as i change them every 6 months,ive had them all nokia,samsung,htc ect and only the last year started buying sony ericcson phones,very impressed. previous phone was the xperia x10 and wow what a phone very good but battery awfull,charging it every day and sometimes twice a day,good camera but music player just ok. so now ive got the xperia mini and WOW!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A PHONE,everything that was niggling me on the x10 has now been upgraded on the MINI. camera BRILLIANT.. music player... louder and you can now create playlist...BRILLIANT....and im happy to say battery life has improved...ive been getting two days worth of use on one charge,which on a smartphone isnt to bad at all.Nice to see new android 2.3,unable to fault phone,so small yet so powerfull and loads of features...BUY IT

Reviewed by Jon from UK on 30th Aug 2011
Great little phone. I've had it over a week now and it's been brilliant. I upgraded from a Wildfire and this is better is virtually every way. The screen is very clear (although I do wish there was an option to turn off the light sensor - still, just a minor complaint), even in daylight and direct sunlight. Everything is very smooth, the latest Android and the same processor that's used in the much bigger phones make a huge difference. It's almost overpowered relative to the screen and I've not noticed any slowdown anywhere. As for the battery life - it's about as good as can be expected for a smartphone. I get three to four days of use out of it. Get an app like MySettings and turn things on and off as and when you need them and you'll have plenty of charge to get through a few days of moderate use. Gone are the days when a phone would last over a week off a single charge. The virtual keyboard works fine, although it might prove a problem for those with slightly larger fingers. I absolutely love the corner icons, they're great for programs that are used regularly as they're there on all the homescreens. Basically, I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone who don't mind a small screen. It's small and much more portable than the likes of the Desire, Galaxy S etc. It depends what you want, a big screen or a smaller handset. In all other areas, the Xperia Mini is easily their equal (and very cheap - I picked mine up on Pay as You Go for 160).

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