But it's the keyboard that's the big difference. It slides out with a reassuringly solid thunk to reveal 38 keys, nicely spaced, slightly raised and finished in tactile rubberised plastic. They're on the small side, but easy enough to distinguish under the thumbs.
Wasted space: there are too few alternative key functions
Though it feels good, it could have been a little better. Nine of the letter keys have no alternative functions, which seems like a bit of a waste – we could have had some up/down scrolling buttons on there, or a few more quick-access symbols or useful phrases like www or .com.
I'm not quite sure why we need a prompt to change language every time we start to type, having already set our preference, and though there's an option to automatically correct mistyped words, it didn't seem to work on my sample.
Firing up the screen seems to take an unnecessarily long time – a good three to four seconds from pressing any of the three hard keys, and then you have to press the menu key to unlock the screen. Every time.
The X10 Mini Pro runs on a 600MHz Qualcomm processor which seems to do a much better job of zipping between applications once the phone's up and running so perhaps it's just a trait of the phone. It's an annoying one though.
As someone who has this phone . . .
. . . and has been using it for a couple of weeks, some of the points in the review are a little off.
The time to get the screen on, for me, is a second or two - which, until the review mentioned it, I hadn't even noticed. It's that much of an issue.
The browser zooms by tapping the screen. Granted, the browser that comes with the phone isn't the best, but isn't the point of smartphones to be able to get other tools to do the job ? Mine now has Opera as default and it is much better than the supplied browser.
The keyboard, for me, is an absolute joy to use. I've had a touch screen phone for a couple of years and have never got used to a touch screen keyboard, it's been the bain of my life. The fact that almost all phones were going down the route of touch-screen only was really pissing me off. I was looking at an HTC Droid, but the size was putting me off - I don't need a screen that large on a phone. As many have said, the whole point of Android and it's myriad options, is that manufacturers can make different types of phone for different markets/people - this keyboard will not be to everyones taste, but for anyone like me who's been searching for one, it's ideal.
The only big problem is the battery life. I use it reasonably heavily, including firing up GPS to track cycling times, speed etc on SportyPal for over an hour each day. The battery will last about 36 hours of my level of usage, when you take care to switch off GPS when not in use and make sure you aren't leaving app's open unnecessarily - it's not good, supposedly the switch to Android 2.1 improves the situation. However, given it's a standard micro-USB connection, I don't find it a huge deal to recharge each night plugged into my PC.
2 quick points
1. I have an HTC touch pro with swype installed as a software keyboard. Swype is NO match for a hardware keyboard if doing serious typing e.g. note taking in educational meetings, need to touch type, accuracy
2. 80% for a phone still running android 1.6 (and a customised version at that) with no mention of a planned upgrade to 2.1/2.2 PLUS all the other misgivings!?
Could do better
The review together with the 80% rating show what a low standard is expected of smartphones. I suspect that an Apple phone with these bugs would get a lower rating. Still, fixing it is a simple matter of software ...