Barcelona (Spain) – Apple will be facing a new iPhone challenger from the Windows camp in the second half of this year. SonyEricsson’s new Xperia X1 copies not only has a similar size as the Apple phone, but also offers solutions for some of the iPhone’s weaknesses : It comes with 3G support and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
You may still remember Steve Ballmer’s comments on the iPhone. Prior to the phone’s launch, the Microsoft CEO questioned the high price tag as well as the missing keyboard that he believed would limit the device’s appeal to the consumer market. More than six months after the iPhone’s debut, Microsoft now can promote a phone that follows Apple’s ideas and brings a few other features to the table.
The SonyEricsson Xperia X1 looks very similar to the iPhone, but its surface area in fact is slightly smaller and follows more the traditional size of a cellphone. Compared to the 4.5” x 2.4” x 0.5” size of the iPhone, the X1 measures 4.3” x 2.1” x 0.7”. SonyEricsson’s phone is slightly thicker than the iPhone, which is due to the fact that the X1 actually is a slider phone and allows users to pull out a QWERTY keyboard from under the screen. Considering this fact, SonyEricsson appears to have done its homework in designing a compact phone, especially if we look at its weight : Including the keyboard, the X1 weighs 145 grams (5.1 ounces), just 10 grams more than the iPhone (135 grams, 4.8 ounces).
Offering a keyboard, the X1 may be a better “email machine” than the iPhone, at least according to Steve Ballmer, but the phone’s biggest advantage may actually be the fact that the phone supports regular GSM networks (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), EDGE, as well as 3G broadband services, including HSDPA, HSUPA and UMTS (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz) from the start. However, the phone will not be available until the second half of this year and it would be a big surprise if Apple doesn’t introduce a 3G iPhone this year as well.
Other advantages of the X1 include a 3.2 megapixel camera versus the 2 megapixel camera in the iPhone and the 3” display has a much higher resolution than the Apple screen – 800 x 480 pixels. The iPhone offers only 480 x 320 pixels. The X1 also uses A-GPS or “Assisted-GPS”, which uses an assistance server as well as a cellphone network to determine a location using GPS. This approach promises a faster response time than regular GPS receivers as well as positioning capability in areas with no direct view to at least three GPS satellites – which is the case in downtown areas with high buildings on both sides of the street, in tunnels, or inside buildings. The iPhone uses a Wi-Fi-based positioning system.
Like Apple’s phone, the X1 is wrapped in a metal casing, it supports WLAN, Bluetooth.
The question is how well the software of the X1 will compare to the iPhone. Based on Windows Mobile, the X1 apparently has a highly configurable user interface, which can be controlled via the keyboard, a joystick as well as via the touchscreen. It is unclear, if the X1 will support multi-finger controls like the Apple device, but we do know that, other than the iPhone, the X1 will support handwriting recognition.
We also don’t know how much the Xperia X1 will cost. However, it seems like SonyEricsson is cutting down the bill of materials by keeping the available internal flash memory at a minimum. According to the initial spec sheet, 400 MB will be available to store data – which compares to 8 GB or 16 GB in the iPhone. X1 users who want to upgrade the storage capacity will have to buy an SD micro card, which are currently available with up to 8 GB capacity (and cost about $140 at this level). Weighing its advantages and disadvantages over the iPhone, it looks like the X1 should not cost much more than $200 at launch.