The conundrum that is Android 1.6 on Xperia X10

By on April 6, 2010
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Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 was today introduced to the UAE market. It runs Android 1.6 at the same time as other handsets are launching with 2.1.

Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10 that has just been launched in the UAE by du, runs Android 1.6.

Some would say that’s like launching a PC with the latest processor, graphics card but running Windows 95.

When a Sony Ericsson representative was demoing the X10 to me recently I asked why they hadn’t launched the new smartphone with the latest version of Android. He didn’t really give an answer other than to say that he didn’t see not having the latest Android OS on the X10 as a major issue. This was, as he said, because Sony Ericsson includes some of their own applications for the X10 that make up for the differences between Android 1.6 and 2.1.

I don’t really understand that argument as some of the differences between the two most recent Android versions are much more fundamental than some Sony Ericsson-developed apps can fix. Most important is arguably multi-touch support for the display, something that iPhone users have come to take for granted. What iPhone users don’t get is Adobe Flash and support in the web browser and neither does Android 1.6 users. You’ll also find an updated User Interface (UI), HTML 5 support, Microsoft Exchange support and an improved virtual keyboard among the updated.

What’s probably more interesting than all of that though is “optimized hardware speed.” To me that means that Android 2.1 is developed to run better on the same hardware as Android 1.6. That seems to be true too as my recent experience with HTC Legend shows. The Legend, running Android 2.1 on a 600MHz processor, feels overall faster in almost every aspect than the X10 running a 1GHz processor. Seems to me the main difference between them is the OS.

The question remains, why does Sony Ericsson launch their latest flagship smartphone, a device that’s very important to them, not with the latest Android? Obviously I don’t know the answer to that and Sony Ericsson isn’t really saying, so all we can do is speculate.

What are your thoughts? If you’re interested you can also read my first impressions of the X10.


I write and talk too much about tech. You can find my personal blog at, my radio shows at, and me on Twitter as mnystedt.

  • Joe Mano

    A perfect example of a company that has lost its way. They spent so much time crowing about what was coming, and delaying it, that the Android updates passed them by and they were stuck with 1.6 because they will now have to rewrite their little overlay programs like Timescape to work with 2.1. I am not an Apple lover or a Sony basher. I buy phones like most people buy candy… iPhone, Omnia, Desire, X10. Sadly the X10 is not up to speed… keyboard doesn’t come close to the response and accuracy of iPhone, and OS is ancient… altho it is the best looking of my collection.

  • Simon

    I think this will be an outstanding phone when it gets the upgrade near the end of 2010, Functionality and Practicality wise this phone stands head and shoulders above most other smart phones and will come into its own as it becomes more and more popular

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