The Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 is a mid-range Google Android smartphone targeted at users who can't afford the premium Xperia X10 and find the Xperia X10 mini or mini Pro too small for their tastes. Updated, 31 March 2011

Sony Ericsson scored a big hit with last year’s X10 Mini handset, proving that you can pack power and navigability into a compact form factor without sacrificing usability.

The Xperia X8 takes the Mini idea, but isn’t as accomplished as its predecessor. It already feels quite retro: until recently it was running the Android 1.6 Donut version of the Google OS.

It has a 3in capacitive touchscreen, with a half-VGA resolution of 320x480 pixels on which icons seem to recede into the blue background. Combined with the plastic, cheap-feeling design, first impressions aren’t great. This is a shame, as some of the technology inside is good. You get GPS and location tagging, plus 3G and 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and support for microSD cards up to 16GB. There’s a parsimonious internal memory allocation of just 128MB.

Navigation on the X8 isn’t bad. The multi-screen setup means you can have a screen for YouTube clips, one for email or web browsing and another for music playback, for example. The Sony Timescape overlay lets you meld all your online accounts and get notifications about missed calls or incoming text messages.

Another interesting, Sony Ericsson-specific feature is support for LiveView - a £48 watch that synchronises with your Android device and gives you at a glance information about incoming calls and acts as a media player. 

Next page: Our original review of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8, from November 2010 >>

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 is a mid-range Google Android smartphone targeted at users who can't afford the premium Xperia X10 and find the Xperia X10 mini or mini Pro too small for their tastes. This is our original review of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8, by PC World India's Laldinfela Pachuau.

After a long wait and much anticipation, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 (aka Shakira) has been with us for a while. Does this mid-range Google Android phone from Sony Ericsson have enough features and performance to threaten rivals such as the LG Optimus GT540Motorola Quench XT3 and HTC Wildfire? Let's find out.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 features and specs

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 has features that are on a par with the rest of the mid-range Google Android phones. It features a 600MHz processor, 168MB RAM, 128MB of internal storage with microSD card support. The phone runs on the old Android 1.6 (Donut), which is disappointing; we believe the Xperia X8 will get version 2.1 - but not Android 2.2 - before the end of the year.

Based on the processor speed alone, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 falls in line with the LG GT540 Optimus, the Motorola Quench XT3 and the Motorola Flipout.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 smartphone sports a 3in capacitive touchscreen with 320x480 pixels, and supports up to 16M colours. The screen size is the same as the LG GT540 Optimus's screen but smaller than the ones on Galaxy 3 and HTC Wildfire; however, it also packs more pixel than these two phones.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 features

The Xperia X8 has a fixed focus 3.15MP and there is no LED flash. There are four different scene modes: Auto, Beach/Snow, Twilight and Sports. It would be better for the X8 if its camera has at least auto-focus, like the Xperia X10 mini's focus. Like with many such phones, there is a Geotagging feature and video is captured in VGA (640x480 pixels) at 15fps.

For connectivity, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 offers 3G, Wi-Fi(b/g) and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP support, which is good enough. But there is no front VGA camera for video calling. Built-in GPS with A-GPS support is also present and for navigation, WisePilot and Google Maps are preinstalled. A 3.5mm stereo headphones jack and microUSB port are also located at the top. For automatic screen orientation, there is also an accelerometer.

Sony Ericsson uses its proprietary user interface (UI), which has three customisable home screens - the first Home Screen has four-customisable corner shortcuts and it is the same interface as that of the Xperia X10 mini and the X10 mini pro. Timescape application that gathers communication records from phone calls, social networking sites and so on is also included.

Apart from these, the X8 is preloaded with applications such as Facebook, YouTube, TrackID, RoadSync and Data monitor. There are bunch of preloaded games such as Crazy Penguin, Tower Bloxx NY, Roller and CA Gold. Sony Ericsson Sync for backing up contacts and calendars is also loaded. And for more apps and games, you can always launch the Marketplace.

Body design

The Xperia X8 comes in a white body with interchangeable back covers like the Xperia X10 mini. The package includes five different colour back covers. It has a plastic-matt finish, which offers the phone a good grip and protects it from smudges or scratches. Removing the back cover takes a little getting used to. And the back cover when pressed creaks a little bit but the overall build quality is good enough to withstand a few drops.

There are three hardware buttons below the 3in screen on the front for menu, home and back functions. Buttons for camera and volume controls are stacked up on the right side, while the top has ports for microUSB cable (protected with a flap) and headphones.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 weighs just 104g and its dimensions of 99x54x15mm are compact enough to slip into a trouser pocket. For the build quality, the Xperia X8 offers a good build, which is in line with the LG GT540 Optimus.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 keyboard

Screen and text entry

The screen offers good brightness but under bright sunlight outdoors, visibility is poor. Its 3in size is slightly cramped compared to the screen on the Samsung Galaxy 3 and HTC Wildfire, and this becomes more apparent while typing in portrait mode. And the screen is not particularly responsive, especially when we began to start entering text via the on-screen keyboard. We hope the upcoming Android 2.1 update will fix this. As usual, the screen size is not ideal for watching full-length movie but would do just fine for short clips or some short YouTube videos. We also found browsing the web for long period a bit more eyestrain-inducing.

Typing on the Xperia X8 is far from great, because the screen failed to register our touch inputs. The laggy screen and the phone's slow response made the whole experience unpleasant. For example, the accelerometer is not that responsive: automatic screen orientation change and waking up the phone from sleep mode took at least 3 to 4 seconds.

Next page: Performance testing >>

See also:

Best deals on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8

Group test: what's the best smartphone?

Smartphone reviews

Google Android review

Our colleagues at PC World India tested the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8's performance in their labs. Here's how the X8 got on.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X8's call handling performance

Like the Xperia X10 mini and mini Pro, there is no Smart Dial on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8. Kinetic scrolling worked amazingly well, though. Call quality is good on both the caller and receiver ends. The onboard speaker sounded loud and rich, although its placement at the back made it easy for the sound to be blocked by an object - while placed on a desk, for an example.  

Browsing, synching, online and GPS

The default browser on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 does not offer multi-touch, but page rendering happened smoothly. Tab browsing, zooming and scrolling long pages happened smooth with the screen size being the only thing that limited the experience.

Synching over the Air via Google, Sony Ericsson Sync and RoadSync happened without any hassle. Online options were in plenty and standalone apps from Facebook, Twitter, Sony Ericcson's own Timescape, and other third-party apps including Evernote, Catch and EasyNote worked perfectly on the X8. 

Navigating with Google Maps worked well and A-GPS support helped a lot in acquiring signal lock. There is no multi-touch yet, and the pre-installed WisePilot navigation software had already passed its expiry date. However, there are plenty of maps software you can try out from the marketplace. The only limitation we see here is the screen size, which is less than adequate to make the Xperia X8 a reliable navigation device.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 WisePilot

Multimedia Playback

The Xperia X8 plays MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV but not lossless FLAC playback. Audio quality is very good for an Android phone, with rich mids and warm bass pumping out through our in-ear headphones. It has enough thump to let you forget your dedicated MP3 player at home if you pair up with good-quality in-ear phones. Using Meridian Player we downloaded from the Marketplace, we could also enjoy our lossless tracks. 

Video playback for MP4 happened smoothly but the limited screen size is not ideal for watching full-length video. DivX or Xvid playback is not supported by default but you can always get third-party apps from the Marketplace. Photo Album also displayed images well and you can post images directly to Facebook or a Picasa Album, or email via Gmail.

Camera

The 3.2Mp camera (without auto-focus) is just good enough for capturing images under good lighting conditions. They lack sharp details despite colors being well-saturated. They are just good enough to post on the web but obviously not for print. Videos recorded look good and offered decent frame rates too.

Battery life

The Xperia X8 has a 1,200mAh Li-Po battery. Its battery life is slightly better than the Xperia X10 mini and mini Pro, lasting for two full days under normal usage.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

Best deals on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8

Group test: what's the best smartphone?

Smartphone reviews

Google Android review


Sony Ericsson Xperia X8: Specs

  • Quad-band Android smartphone
  • 3in (320x480) capacitive touchscreen
  • 600MHz processor
  • 168MB RAM
  • Google Android 1.6 OS (Donut)
  • 128MB internal storage
  • microSD memory card slot
  • 3.2Mp fixed-focus camera (no LED flash)
  • GPS
  • 3G/Wi-Fi connectivity
  • talk time 5 hours
  • standby time 446 hours
  • 54x99x15mm
  • 104g
  • Quad-band Android smartphone
  • 3in (320x480) capacitive touchscreen
  • 600MHz processor
  • 168MB RAM
  • Google Android 1.6 OS (Donut)
  • 128MB internal storage
  • microSD memory card slot
  • 3.2Mp fixed-focus camera (no LED flash)
  • GPS
  • 3G/Wi-Fi connectivity
  • talk time 5 hours
  • standby time 446 hours
  • 54x99x15mm
  • 104g

OUR VERDICT

Given the £20-per-month price tag, it’s hard to criticise the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8. We simply found better Android handsets for the price.

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