With the Xperia X8, Sony Ericsson is gunning for the middle ground – specifically those who find the X10’s massive panel too much and the X10 Mini too wee for their tastes. So, how does this new Android effort stack up under closer inspection? Read our review and we’ll tell all.
Size-wise, the X8 makes perfect sense. Its three-inch screen is ample for most mobile tasks and won’t cause any unsightly bulges when you slip it in your pocket.
However, you really can’t escape the fact that this is one hell of a plasticky phone. It’s clear from the get-go that this is meant to be a budget Android blower rather than a top-end effort.
Then there’s the fact the X8 feels a tad sluggish when under the pump, thanks in no small part to the baffling decision to load the phone up with the ancient Android 1.6. The latter really does let the side down.
As mentioned, the build of the X8 feels a tad on the cheap side. That said, its design is much sleeker than most budget Android phones and its tapered edges make it a comfortable phone to use and play with.
The screen is sharp, although at 320 x 480, is hardly ideal for lengthy movie sessions on the move. The three buttons across the bottom are intuitive, though, and help bring the savvy parts of the X10 to a smaller form factor.
It’s hard to get worked up about a three megapixel camera, although the X8 does offer a surprisingly decent range of scene modes and, as with all Android phones, the sharing options are great.
Simple one-touch access to Facebook and Gmail makes sending off snaps a doddle. The pics themselves are fine if taken in good light, although you’ll have to deal with a relative amount of noise and grain. There’s no flash, though, and things are further let down by a rather average VGA video function.
This is where the Xperia X8 is meant to excel, but once again Sony Ericsson has let the Android side down by including the 1.6 version of the OS, released in summer 2009 and gazumped about three months later. That it still thinks this is OK is bizarre, especially as rival budget smartie the LG Optimus One, runs Android 2.2 Froyo out of the box. It means you can’t have unified mailboxes, the keyboard lacks precision and Goggles is MIA, not to mention tons of apps that won’t play nice with anything other than Android 2.x.
Matters are not helped by the Timescape skin slowing things down somewhat. Timescape’s conceit is fine and it’s very smart at aggregating content from across all social networks and online accounts in one place. It’s easy to set up and handle. But you can’t help but feel this would be a better phone if Sony Ericsson ditched the fancy aggregation tool and went all-in with vanilla Android.
Ease of use
The Xperia X8 is a breeze to handle, even if the version of Android is creaking. The virtual keyboard is sluggish but precise enough and the four-corner access to music, contacts, phonebook and keypad is handy. It’s just a shame that this phone already feels completely outdated. Come on Sony Ericsson, it’s time to get up to speed with Android.
- Android 1.6 Donut
- 3 inch, 320 x 480 capacitive touchscreen
- 3 megapixel camera, VGA video recording
- 3.5mm jack
- Wi-Fi, HSDPA
Overall Mark: 7/10