Mini Pro – A thing for rubber.

Last summer, my wife upgraded her contract
phone to the X10 Mini. It’s a nice little phone, with some useful features and
proved a plucky little handset, given it’s 
initial Android 1.6 handicap. A few months
later, in January of this year (2011) 
and on
the basis of my wife’s satisfaction with her SE Android handset,
upgraded my contract phone to the X10i – specifically the HD variant with Eclair
2.1 on board. Also a great handset, limited again 
to 2.1 (or so we were led to believe) as it was
SE’s first foray into the broader aspects of the Android market.

Jump to
November 2011 and the kind overlords at SE have furnished me with another phone;
the 2011 Mini Pro...And a fine handset it is too. I first saw this little
beauty back in the summer and was immediately impressed with it. Sure it’s
stubby and a little chunky, but it sports some considerable heft in the

Fiddling with the
slide-out full QWERTY keyboard, I found this to be a much smoother experience
than when using the Play, which I felt had a slight ‘wobble’ to it, even when
tucked away under the screen. No such problems here, everything tucks away where
it should be with barely a rattle to be heard when it’s closed. Nice. Sturdy.

The screen itself is
bigger than last years X10 screen and is a very nice screen to behold. It’s
bright, it’s vivid, it renders photos taken with the 5MP camera very well and
displays video taken with the phone quite handsomely as well. The BRAVIA engine
is onboard this phone so that does play a part in making things look better. The
UX for this phone has improved somewhat; the corner docks can now accomodate
more than just one app, I think you can have 4 apps in each corner which comes
to a grand total of 16 ‘bookmarks’ for your electronic delectation. Pressing the
menu button on the homescreen now draws up the same menu as seen on other
2011 Xperia handsets, which is something of a relief as the menu on the original X10
Mini was a nightmare!

I was disappointed
the phone only came with a 2GB card, personally I found this a bit mean,
especially considering phones like the Arc and Neo came with an 8GB card –
surely at least a 4GB wouldn’t have gone amiss? Not the end of the world though,
as Micro SD’s are easily replaceable and I seem to have a glut of 8GB cards
knocking about, so that’s that problem solved

And now we come to the point behind the curious
title of this post – rubber. The 2010 X10 series and the 2011 successor Mini handsets all have a fabulous matt
finish which is, surprise surprise, almost rubbery in places. I personally find
the finish to be of great use and value. For starters it makes the phone easier
to grip. I like the look of that finish compared to glossier finish of the
Arc/Neo, though I will admit they do still look nice, but the glossy finish does
tend to make the phones a little slicker if your hands are wet, for example. And
it does rain here in good old Blightly. A lot.

Anyway, fetishes
aside, the 2011 Mini Pro is a considerable improvement on it’s predecessor.
I’ve given mine to my wife in trade for her Xperia Ray, coming on contract this
week (review to follow soon!) but that should by no means suggest it’s a phone
for girls. Sporting a fine camera, a decent screen, sturdy build, a zippy little
processor and a respectable amount of RAM, it’s also running the latest
version of Android – with ICS right around the corner. In short, it’s a
great little handset and worthy of anyone’s attention.

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