Sony Ericsson is looking to bring their smartphone sales up in 2011 with this new device dubbed the Xperia X12 Anzu. Due to the frequency in which Google releases updates to the Android OS, Sony Ericsson has always tried to use features and styling to sell their smartphones instead of the latest software. That's an approach that has not necessarily worked well for the company.
We are going to take a look at the X12 or Anzu that should hit the market in the early months of 2011. The X12 will bring with it Android 2.2 (Froyo) with an update to 2.3 (Gingerbread) coming in late summer of 2011. That's a much smarter way to release a device than what we saw with the X10 being released with Android 1.6, while almost every other smartphone at the time was running 2.1 or better. This time the X12 is set to be right in line with all other phones that will be in the market at its release. Granted, a few top-tier new devices will be running Gingerbread, but this is a large improvement from the X10. Releasing with no custom UI from Sony Ericsson, stock Android should be very fast helping win some people over.
Right now the prototype only runs Android 2.1 (for engineering purposes) even though building a prototype on the OS intended for release does seem to make more sense.
The hardware seems to be less then amazing, compared to all the leaked specs we had been finding. The X12 is to simply be an improvement to its predecessors, being lighter, thinner, and able to support multi-touch on a slightly larger display. The X12 runs a MSM7230 Qualcomm processor instead of the QSD8250 Snapdragon of the X10. That means the X12 is running the same core but at only 800 MHz instead of the 1 GHz of the X10.
This seems a little foolish when the talk of the town is dual core processors with blinding frequencies. Although that's not entirely true, the X12 has been almost completely optimized for the processor, making for a smoother experience and bringing Android to life without any lag at all. The multi-media offerings of the X12 have been improved as well. The chipset is equal to the X10 in this arena but with improvements to 720p video capture and increased playback time of videos. The X12 encodes 720p in H264 smoothly and is optimized for decoding DIVX and XVID videos. 1080p was never intended to be one of the X12's features since that platform is still under development. 720p is optimized through hardware and runs well though, much better than on the X10 which is done solely with software.
Unfortunately at this stage the 12 MP camera isn't working correctly, the viewfinder gets distorted and image quality is reduced to only 3 MP. This fact keeps the video capture at a resolution of 352 x 288 for now. Many other multi-media aspects of the device are still in need of some fine tuning also.
The new slimmer design of the X12 seems to make it "feel" less well put together than its brother the X10. The gloss plastic seems to be the same as that of the X10, but it seems to lose that "quality" and "well manufactured" feel the X10 had. Keep in mind that this is a prototype and Sony Ericsson still has some time to redesign and change some or all of this.
A 4.3 inch screen with a resolution of 854 x 480 will greet you when using this device. Very close to the X10 screen but slightly larger in a diagonal measurement. The colors look almost the same as the X10, and with AMOLED or S-AMOLED screens in short supply and Sony Ericsson's almost-refusal to use S-LCD's, this is not likely to change. What you're left with is OK viewing angles and a mirroring of the black colors.
So, what does all this mean? In my personal opinion, corporate suicide. While many of the features are great and I love the idea of a manufacturer releasing a device with stock Android, it's just not enough. In the market we will have in early 2011 with Samsung's rumored "flagship" device, the Nexus S, the Desire HD, and Motorola and NVIDIA's mystery Tegra 2 devices all set to come out next year, Sony Ericsson just isn't raising the bar enough. Manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, and Samsung have shown us what a top tier smartphone is and the X12 is nowhere near any of them. Picture quality on the screen is very important to the end user; just look at the record sales of the Galaxy S line even despite some odd software issues. Speed and reliability are just as important factors; Motorola's Droid series has record sales just for this alone. I think given time and some redesign Sony Ericsson could be a real contender in this market. But only reworking an old idea and making it feel less polished and well put together is not the way. Sony Ericsson has a lot of potential here if they are willing to watch the trends in the market and change their philosophy to fit it. I'm pulling for Sony Ericsson, I just hope they don't get eaten alive by some of the bigger fish out there. I will be patiently awaiting the final X12, crossing my fingers that they see the light.
Thanks to our friends at Mobile Review for taking the time with this device and sharing these images with us.