The Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro stands out from most smartphone by virtue of its compact screen. With smartphones getting progressively larger with each generation, the Mini Pro offers something completely different. It also features a proper hardware keypad, so the small screen doesn't cause issues when it comes to usability.
Take the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro out of its box, and the first thing you'll notice is the compact design. After handsets like the Xperia Arc, it feels absolutely tiny, although it is a relatively thick little smartphone (about twice thick thickness of an Xperia Arc). The compact design feels great in the hand though, and it fits easily into pockets.
The 3-inch touchscreen is fine for most uses. You can fit plenty of icons on the home screen, and reading text messages is never a problem. It's also fine for web browsing – at least when it comes to text – although images on websites can make things feel a bit cramped.
The sliding QWERTY keypad is a highlight on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro, and it means you don't miss the larger screens offered on other smartphones. It's a four row affair, with secondary buttons, directional keys and the space bar offered on the fourth row.
We found the keypad responsive and comfortable to use, and for lots of people – especially those creating longer emails or editing documents – it's a better choice than a touchscreen keyboard.
There's also a touchscreen keypad as well, and you can use this if you want to use the phone with a single hand. It's an alpha-numeric solution when used in portrait mode, and although the buttons are a little cramped, it's still easy to use.
Build quality is good for such an affordable smartphone, and the rubber-coated plastic on the rear of the device is both tactile and hardwearing.
The Xperia Mini Pro's small form factor means that the top row of the keyboard sits alongside the edge of the screen surround. This means users with large thumbs may have accessibility issues with the top row of keys – although it's fine for most people.
The screen can also feel cramped compared to most modern smartphones, although the intelligent use of icons – with different apps grouped into folders and then placed in the corners of the home screen – means you soon get used to it.
The bottom line
Overall, the Sony Ericsson Mini Pro is a fantastic smartphone for those on a tighter budget. The compact form factor is appealing, and the keyboard means you'll be able to write longer messages and emails in comfort. The small screen means it's not quite so good when watching movies, however.