Sony Ericsson X8 in-depth review -

Look and feel

Though pocket-friendly, the plastic casing felt brittle, flimsy and a little cheap

Ease of use

The Android 1.6 OS feels dated, and there are too many menus to navigate through for a truly fluid process

Features

Wi-Fi and HSDPA take care of your browsing needs, while A-GPS, a 3.15-megapixel camera and Sony Ericsson’s Timescape complete the feature list

Performance

Currently running on Android 1.6, there were just too many glitches and restrictions to sway us onside

Battery life

An impressive battery life of 340 minutes talktime and 476 hours standby

 Sony Ericsson X8 Review -
2

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/8/2011 4:47:23 PM

4

out of 10

Performance

4

out of 5

Look and feel

4

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

A responsive virtual QWERTY keyboard that has a decent auto-suggest facility

Cons:

Until the phone receives an Android update, the X8?s 1.6 looks dated and is too restrictive

The Sony Ericsson X8 is the latest addition to the manufacturer’s flagship Xperia range. Bigger than the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini, but smaller than the original Xperia X10, the X8 is something of an inbetweener (though it bears far closer resemblance to the X10 Mini) and as such it doesn’t quite seem to know what it’s supposed to be.

Look and feel

Before we proceed, it’s important to establish that the X8 is marketed at the lower end of the price spectrum. For this reason, we perhaps should forgive Sony Ericsson for shaping the X8 from rather flimsy plastic material. Yet there’s no escaping the fact that it gives the phone a cheap, brittle feel, though it is refreshingly light. Our review sample was a garish white, which at best made it stand out, and at worst made it look tacky.

Although slightly bigger in terms of its dimensions, the X8 is effectively the same design as the X10 Mini, only with a slightly stretched display that now measures three-inches, as opposed to 2.55-inches. It sports the same user interface as the X10 Mini, with four icons sitting in each corner of the screen. These can be customised to your most frequented features but as default they read (in a clockwise motion) messaging, music, contacts and dial pad. From the main home screen you can slide your finger to the left to reveal any number of additional home screens. These can all be customised to include shortcuts or feeds. However, you’ll be limited to just one per home screen, which seems a waste, particularly when there’s just under half an inch more space to use than there was on the X10 Mini. Slide your finger up the display and this will in turn reveal a 12 icon menu that again can be slid from left to right to reveal more features. It is here where any apps you download from the Android Market reside.

In our X10 Mini review we were critical of the virtual QWERTY keyboard, feeling that it was just too small for a truly enjoyable typing experience. Thankfully, with the X8 the extra length makes it much more comfortable to knock out those long emails or text messafes. We suggest making use of the accelerometers and turning the display into landscape mode, which gives each key a little more room.  Overall, key presses were accurate and if you do hit the wrong key the auto-suggest bar above the keyboard usually listed the correct word.

Social networking

Sony Ericsson’s social streaming integration is again found in the X8. Timescape syncs all your Facebook updates, Tweets and text messages into one feed. However, sitting on the home screen, only one feed is shown. To access more, you need to actually go into the feature. Sony Ericsson has fitted the X8 with a native Facebook app too. However, we found the app to be very temperamental, especially when we tried to click on a posted link, as it either failed to acknowledge our command or needed to navigate additional stages just to reach the link. In fact, the browsing experience as a whole disappointed. Pages failed to auto-adjust so all text is in view, and though this could be corrected by a quick double tap, the fact that the X8 runs on the dated Android 1.6 means you can’t pinch and pull the webpage to zoom in (an upgrade to 2.1 will supposedly be available from January).

Push email was initially a breeze to set up. However, despite the fact we were alerted to a new email in the notifications bar, when we accessed our inbox we needed to refresh it to actually read the email. There’s more, again due to the Android 1.6 OS. For instance, it's not possible to set up multiple email accounts unless one happens to be a GoogleMail, as this has its own application that runs separate to the X8’s email account.

Conclusion

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 is worth a look if you’re shopping for an Android phone on a budget. However, shop around and you’ll discover far more equipped smartphones for just a few extra quid per month. We look forward to seeing the X8 with the forthcoming Android 2.1 update, which will undoubtedly correct a few wrongs, but in the meantime there were just too many glitches and not enough innovation to get us excited.

Danny Brogan