Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro

Feature set summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro review
There are plenty of features on offer, thanks to the latest Android OS, but we weren't impressed with Sony Ericsson's social networking collector
Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro

Style and handling summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro review
The Xeria Mini Pro is smooth and tactile. It has a glossy chassis, and feels solid and classy.

Battery power summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro review
You should get a good day out of a full battery charge, but not much more

Performance summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro review
The Mini Pro's performance is fast and it proves responsive in use.

User friendliness summary for Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro review
The keyboard is a tad small but perfectly usable. The display is just a little bit small, especially when using mapping

Full Review and Specification for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro
We love smartphones, but if you like a neat handset that will slip into a jeans pocket, they're not always the ideal. Just a few years ago, before mobiles needed cameras, touch-screens and 3G antennas, the likes of Nokia, Siemens and Samsung offered plenty of diddy phones but they haven't been seen recently.

The closest we've got is last year's Xperia X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro, which were chunky but still small, and featured slide-out keyboards and touch-displays. Sony has dropped the X10 from the name this year, but the handset is still about the same size (there's about a 1mm all round in it) and offers a much bigger display (now it measures 3 inches rather than 2.55 inches).

To hold, the handset feels good. It has a glossy reverse (unlike the rubberised reverse on the Mini) and features chrome edging. The chunky feel is probably a matter of taste, especially if you're used to a slim smartphone.

Size matters
However, it is small enough to almost be able to hide behind a credit card - and even though it is a bit chunkier and weighs 16g more than last year's model, it is a very usable handset. The display's res is the same as it was last year, even though the screen is larger - and we were surprised how good it looked when we viewed video on it.

On the previous model we thought the display too tiny, but the extra half inch or so has made quite a difference, but you won't be opening multiple apps on screen as you can on the Samsung Galaxy S II, for instance. You'll be limited to one or two, such as Google Search Bar and lock or some shortcut icons. If you want to have larger apps such as Weather, be aware they cover the whole display.

Hot stuff
Sony Ericsson has produced ‘hot corners' to make the most of the extra screen space. Press the corner on the right and the keypad for dialling will pop up. Options such as Picture Gallery, Music Playback and Radio zoom out from another corner. You'll see Messaging and Contacts popping up from the other corners.

Slide out the QWERTY keyboard and you'll see four rows of keys appear. The keys are well spaced but don't expect the keyboard to measure up to those on BlackBerry devices. Nor is there a separate row of number keys - you need to hit another key for those.

On the front of the handset there is just one hard key for Home - this can take you back to the main home page and wake the screen. Virtual buttons sit on either side to access the previous screen and the Menu. Other real buttons include a dedicated camera key, power button and volume rocker.

Android OS
The Mini Pro runs on the latest Android OS - 2.3.3 - so offers all the latest features. It's fast, too; web pages load speedily, apps launch quickly and you can swipe easily between screens. We found the browser worked well, although we recommend turning the handset into landscape mode and sliding out the keyboard to get the best out of the screen's space.

A virtual keyboard can also be used, which offers both QWERTY and a 1-9 phone keypad option. It is a tad on the small side, but not unusable.
Snaps can be taken on the five-megapixel snapper, as well as HD video at 720p. We were pleasantly surprised to see a front-facing lens so you can make video calls, too. Music playback is decent as well.

Getting social
Social networking is taken care of by Sony Ericsson's Timescape system, which brings all your Twitter feeds, messages and social network updates into on place. The resulting stack of tiles are hard to read, thanks to the photo placed behind the text.

The verdict
Smartphones have large screens so that you can enjoy viewing video, surfing the net and mapping. However, if you'd rather have a small handset that offers smartphone features, even if the small display is a bit limiting, the Mini Pro does have the advantage of speedy performance.