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sony ericsson xperia x10

sony ericsson xperia x10

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Of the world's largest phone manufacturers, perhaps none has taken a more twisted road to smartphone ubiquity than Sony Ericsson. It began its journey back in the pre-joint venture Ericsson days by throwing its weight behind Symbian, a smartphone platform that would ultimately become the world's most popular -- but it made a fatal error in supporting the doomed UIQ flavor that never saw even a fraction of the support its S60 cousin did. UIQ's untimely (but predicted) collapse last year left the company nearly rudderless and ill-equipped to deal with competitors like Nokia, HTC, and Apple, all of whom had long since embraced other platforms -- all with fighting chances of market dominance.

Left without a platform to champion, Sony Ericsson would ultimately continue supporting Symbian through its involvement with the Symbian Foundation and phones like the Satio and Vivaz... and it would ramp up support for Windows Mobile with the Xperia X1 and X2... and it would bring Android into the fold with the X10, all within a few months of each other. All told, Sony Ericsson enters 2010 actively supporting three unrelated smartphone platforms, and comments by CEO Bert Norberg at MWC in February lead us to believe that they'd be happy to take on a fourth (or more) if the opportunity presented itself. It's an odd strategy to be sure, particularly for a company that's struggling mightily and shrinking its workforce more than any other top-five manufacturer. How it intends to effectively compete on three different fronts without spreading itself hopelessly thin, well... that remains a huge question mark.

That said, the Xperia X10 is perhaps the most promising of Sony Ericsson's confusing crop of modern smartphones, combining attractive hardware with killer specs, Android, and an intriguing custom skin. Does it hold its own against modern competitors like HTC's Nexus One and Desire? And more importantly, can it keep Sony Ericsson from going over the brink? Read on to find out.

Note: Sony Ericsson contacted us shortly after the review was published to let us know that this particular X10 is running pre-production firmware, which may account for some of the issues we had with keyboard performance and occasional sluggishness. Let's hope!

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