Sony Ericsson’s Xperia range went from one extreme to the other in terms of smartphone sizes. The Xperia X10 was a 4 inch beast, while the X10 Mini and Mini Pro were considerably smaller, offering an ultimate pocket friendly 2.55 inch stance.
Opposites attract, and if the X10 and X10 Mini were to have a love child, the Sony Ericsson X8 would be it. It packs a similar spec line up but plays the ‘piggy in the middle’ part, being not too big, but not too small either. Is it the ‘just right’ handset of the Xperia family? Let’s find out…
Anyone familiar with the Xperia family will immediately recognise the Sony Ericsson X8′s genetics as it’s a spitting image of mum and dad. The front consists of a 3 inch WVGA touchscreen with three silver curved navigation buttons at the bottom. The X8′s slightly rounded edges and sides give it a trendy twist and it’s also really comfortable to hold, as it’s nicely rounded off by the soft plastic backing. The casing doesn’t give off a premium look or feel but it keeps the pounds off in both the wallet and the weightier sense, coming in at a mere 104 grams.
Visible connections are minimal with a camera ‘shoot’ button and volume rocker housed on the right side of the handset and microUSB port subtly covered with a matching coloured plastic flap next to the power key at the top of the device. However, the oddly shaped 3.5mm headphone jack ruins the X8′s appearance slightly as it stuck out like a sore thumb.
Power and Operating System
The Sony Ericsson X8 has inherited the X10 Mini’s 600MHz Qualcomm processor to power the Android 1.6 OS, and quite frankly, we’re a little disappointed to see it. The Xperia range has unfortunately missed the boat when it comes to Android updates as for the time being at least, it seems that Android 2.1 Éclair is the best that the X8 is going to get.
On the bright side, Android 1.6 is a lot easier to get to grips with if you’ve recently decided to hop on the Google OS bandwagon and the Android Market is already pre-loaded and ready to go. Sony Ericsson has laid their own user interface on top of Donut and it immediately makes its presence known by the four customisable homescreen corners. You can also add as many widgets as you like to the X8, except you can only have one per page.
Sony Ericsson has also thrown Timescape into the mix, which displays all your texts, emails, Facebook and Twitter updates into a single stream. It saves you having to open up each app individually which gives the X8 a few extra brownie points, and if we put our gripes with the old school operating system to one side, it all comes together well which we guess is all that matters.
Internet: The Android browser is good by itself but sadly, the Sony Ericsson X8, like many other small touchscreen devices before it, isn’t really top banana for usability.
It ticks all the right boxes for connectivity with both 3G and Wi-Fi on board however, there is no Flash support and zooming is required for every single bit of text you need to read. Some manufacturers have got around this hurdle with pinch to zoom technology, but on the X8 enabling the zoom function is a more long winded task. You can double tap but that doesn’t always hit the spot, in which case you have to use the manual touch zoom keys to finish the job. The text resize function found its way into our good books though as did the overall responsiveness of the X8.
Camera: We let out another sigh when testing the Sony Ericsson X8′s camera. It only packs 3.2 megapixels and this low spec certainly showed in the pictures which were often dull and blurry.
There are no additional functions to spice up your photos either aside from the four different shoot modes offered and geo-tagging. However, the camera can record video at 30 frames per second, although this doesn’t really redress the balance much. So long as you’re happy to strap yourself in for a real back to basics ride, you shouldn’t be left disappointed by the outcome.
Other tech specs:
- Music player. Supports MP3, eAAC+, WMA and WAV files
- Video player. Supports MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV files
- Track ID music recognition service
- 128MB internal storage plus 168MB RAM memory
- MicroSD card slot that supports cards up to 16GB
- Pre-installed Google clients including YouTube and Gmail
- MicroUSB port
- Bluetooth 2.0
- FM radio
- 5 hours 40 minutes talk time
We were left slightly underwhelmed by the Sony Ericsson X8′s browsing capabilities, not for what it offers individually, but the general experience. We can deal with there being no Flash support especially for a lower range smartphone that isn’t primarily designed for browsing fans, but the fact that zooming to view pages took longer than we would’ve liked we had to knock off a few points.
So was the Sony Ericsson X8 the happy medium we thought it would turn out to be? Well, sort of. We came into this expecting to encounter specs a little bit higher than the X10 Mini, just simply because it was a bigger handset. It wasn’t all bad news though, and if you’re looking for a starter smartphone the X8 is well worth considering.