The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 is likely to outsell the rest of the XPERIA droids. It’s neither the best phone in the line-up, nor it’s a phone to excite and inspire but it’s the common denominator. It is right in the middle. It’s an XPERIA for everyone – both size-wise and price-wise.

The X8 bridges the gap between two extremes. And it manages to find itself a niche in the process – a niche where it can breathe freely. It’s a place with healthy competition but no big egos around. The X8 is selling for as low as 175 euro and that makes it one of the least expensive Android smartphones on the market.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 official photos

For a reasonable price, the phone offers the feature pack most of its rivals would give you. It has diverse connectivity options, a good music player, neat user interface, a built-in camera and access to social networks and the Android Market.

Average size and realistic price, the X8 fits snugly in the Android midrange and sets itself apart from its XPERIA siblings. That’s more than evident without digging too deep into the spec sheet.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE, HSDPA 900/2100 / HSDPA 850/1900/2100
  • 3.0″ capacitive TFT touchscreen of HVGA resolution, 16M colors
  • Scratch-resistant screen coating
  • Android OS v1.6 Donut with custom Sony Ericsson UI, featuring Timescape
  • Qualcomm MSM7227 600 MHz processor
  • 128 MB onboard storage, microSD card slot (up to 16GB), 2GB card included
  • 3 megapixel fixed-focus camera with geotagging, VGA video @ 30fps
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
  • Built-in GPS receiver, digital compass
  • microUSB port, charging enabled
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Excellent audio
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Accelerometer for UI auto-rotate
  • Social networking integration

Main disadvantages

  • Limited storage for installing third-party apps
  • Outdated Android OS version
  • No multi-touch support
  • Camera lacks autofocus
  • No DivX video support out of the box
  • microSD slot under the battery cover
  • No secondary video-call camera

Imaging is certainly middling: no autofocus and measly 3 megapixels. The screen on the other hand has grown to a healthy 3 inches and standard HVGA resolution.

What is still missing though is a more recent Android OS version. Like the rest of the Android-based XPERIAs, the X8 is running Android v1.6 (Donut). An update to Android 2.1 Eclair is due but there is still no word of Froyo ever coming the XPERIA way.

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Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 live shots

This is obviously a concern, but the Sony Ericsson X8 is still worth a look as a possible purchase. After all, it offers a well balanced feature set and it’s fairly priced. But that’s something to talk about at the end of our review.

Not before we’ve looked inside the box and had design and handling duly covered. That’s what we’re up to after the break.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 unboxed

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 comes in a compact box accommodating the handset itself as well as a few standard-issue accessories. Those include a USB charger, a microUSB-to-USB cable (used for charging and computer connections) and a set of earphones.

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Here is what’s inside the XPERIA X8 retail box

There is a handful of quick user guides too in several languages. As for the 2GB microSD card, it is already inserted in the device’s memory card slot.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 360-degree spin

While the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 isn’t as tiny as the X10 mini or the X10 mini pro, it still is on the compact side of Android phones. At 99 x 54 x 15 mm there’s enough room for a 3” HVGA screen.

The weight of 104 grams is definitely on the light side, but the 15mm of thickness does sound a bit much but the phone is reasonably comfortable to handle.

Design and construction

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 looks like they’ve zoomed in on the X10 mini. Or zoomed out on the original X10. Anyway, there’s a clean line of succession in terms of design.

The plastic used on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 doesn’t have a “premium” feel to it. Still, it hides fingerprints and helps keep the weight down. The matt plastic is virtually fingerprint-proof, but the screen is a smudge magnet much like most touchscreens out there.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 is hitting the market in a handful of color versions. The front is always white while the rear can have a splash of Dark Blue, Aqua Blue, Pink or Silver.

The touchscreen display on the front has grown almost half an inch over the X10 mini’s and has double the resolution – jumping from QVGA to HVGA. The image is much crisper and you won’t feel like an elephant in a china shop thumbing your way through the menu.

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The 3” display has its ups and downs

The screen sensitivity, as was to be expected in a capacitive unit, is excellent. The slightest of touches are enough for a click to be registered, for a great touchscreen experience.

The 65K-color limitation inherent to Android versions prior to 2.0 could result in banding, and we’re afraid it’s more easily noticeable than we would’ve liked. Once the X8 receives the Android 2.1 update those issues should be solved though.

The image quality is passable as far as TFT displays go, with good enough brightness and contrast levels. Viewing angles are OK. Sunlight legibility on the XPERIA X8 is poor though – the screen reflects too much light making it nearly impossible to use the phone on a bright sunny day.

Below the display there are three hardware keys: Contextual Menu, Home and Back button. Those are thin keys but nicely raised and with good press feedback. What’s missing in the Android standard assortment of keys is the search key – you get a search widget on the homescreen instead.

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There’s no hardware Search button

Above the display we find a status LED, the earpiece, as well as proximity and ambient light sensors. There’s no option to deactivate the auto-brightness. The proximity sensor is in charge of locking the display when you hold it next to your ear during calls.

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The earpiece flanked by the proximity and ambient light sensors

The sides of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA 8 follow the X10 and X10 mini layout.

On the right, you get a volume rocker and a shutter key. The volume rocker is too thin – thinner than the front-facing main controls. The shutter key is not all that comfortable either but it is a fixed-focus camera after all.

The left side is completely bare.

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The right side controls: volume rocker and the camera key • the bare left-hand side

The top hosts the screen lock key which also acts as a power button. It’s small and barely protrudes but we guess it was done on purpose to minimize accidental presses.

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The power/screen lock key, the custom 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port

At the top of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 you’ll also find the audio jack and the microUSB port. While the audio jack looks a bit weird, it is absolutely compatible with standard 3.5mm plugs.

As for the unusual shape, it is designed to accommodate the optional Hi-Fi Sony Ericsson MH-810 headset with music controls.

There is a protective cap over the microUSB port (which is too hard to open), while the audio jack is exposed. As far as the bottom is concerned, it features just the mouthpiece and the lanyard eyelet.

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The bottom of the X8 is pretty bare

The back of the phone hosts the 3 megapixel fixed-focus camera lens and the loudspeaker. The camera lens is not covered but quite inset, giving it a reasonable protection against scratches (but not against dust).

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The camera lens and the loudspeaker grill are on the back

Removing the battery cover reveals the microSD card slot and the SIM compartment. The microSD slot is hot-swap enabled despite being placed under the battery cover. The good news here is that the battery is removable, as opposed to the X10 mini.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 is powered by a 1200mAh Li-Polymer battery quoted at up to 446 hours of standby and 4 hours 45 minutes of talk time.

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A look under the back cover

The back cover comes off relatively easy – this means you can quickly dress your phone up in a new outfit and there are quite some to choose from.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 fits snugly in the palm. The compact size and comfortably curved rear make it nice and secure to hold. 15mm thick certainly sounds alarming but the shape didn’t bother us at all. The X8 easily allows single-handed use and the curved corners do help mask some of the thickness.

Even though it’s completely made of plastic, the X8 still feels strong and durable and its build quality is just fine. USB charging and the standard 3.5mm jack are good things to have. Our only gripe perhaps is the banding issue affecting the screen.

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The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8: compact and comfortable

Bigger screen for the small UI

Just like the other Android-powered members of the XPERIA family, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 runs version 1.6 of the Android platform with Sony Ericsson’s own touches. And while the Eclair is just around the corner it is still not clear if Froyo will actually make it to any of the currently available XPERIA phones.

The XPERIA X8 uses the same homescreen as its more compact siblings, the X10 mini and the X10 mini pro. However this time the screen has HVGA resolution, which is still the most popular screen res on Android, and with its 3 inches, it’s a lot roomier.

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Bigger screen for the small UI

You’re still limited to one widget per screen. And no shortcuts or folders either. And those widgets leave a lot of unused space – Sony Ericsson could have easily fit two widgets per screen. At least, you get as many homescreen panes as you want (as many widgets as you have, that is) and they are easy to rearrange.

The handy four-corner shortcuts from the X10 mini make an appearance here as well. By default, they take you to the message composer, music player, phonebook and dial pad/call log. You can switch them with any four shortcuts you like though.

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One widget per screen is all you get

Android’s notification area is as usual at the top of the screen. It’s a thin strip hosting status info about battery, signal strength and others such as Bluetooth or missed events. Sliding it down however reveals the whole story – you get a list of all recent notifications.

The XPERIA X8 packs the Timescape UI plug-in but lacks the Mediascape one. In fact, Timescape is available as a separate application and its job is to bring all your communications together.

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The Timescape UI

It always displays an aggregated view of your SMS, MMS, email, missed calls, Facebook and Twitter updates all on one screen. It also has a large number of tabs to filter the content by type.

To bring up the task switcher on the X8 you press and hold the Home key just like on any other Android phone. It gives you access to the six most recently used apps. Due to the logic of the operating system, some of them might be hibernating rather than actually running in the background.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 uses the same CPU as the pint-sized X10 mini/X10 mini pro and despite having twice as many pixels to update on-screen, the whole interface is very fast. As far as the UI is concerned, it doesn’t take a Snapdragon – everything works fine, without hiccups.

Here is how the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 compares to the LG GT540 Optimus in terms of performance. We used the free Benhcmark and PiBenchmark apps from the Android Market for the test and the results are here for you to see.

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Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 benchmarks – Benchmark • PiBenchmark

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LG GT540 Optimus – Benchmark * PiBenchmark

Phonebook is good enough

The XPERIA X8 phonebook can store quite a lot of information. It lets you input numbers for work and home, but this time there are no custom labels. There is of course an email field and you can assign a custom ringtone.

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The phonebook is comfortable enough to navigate

You can add an IM nickname to the contact as well as a postal address, company and job title, several notes, you name it. You can redirect calls directly to voicemail.

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Editing a contact

When viewing a contact, the various details are displayed in sections. Tapping on a given number dials the contact while opting for the envelope icon next to it launches the message editor. Those two buttons fill an entire horizontal row so that they are more thumbable.

Telephony: Smart dialing is still missing

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 had no issues with reception and the in-call sound was loud and clear.

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The in-call screen • No Smart dialing yet again

Unfortunately, the XPERIA X8, just like the rest of the Sony Ericsson’s droid crew doesn’t feature Smart dialing.

In the X8 the call log is a part of the dialer application. You can easily search the entries in it by flick scrolling.

Thanks to the proximity sensor the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 automatically switches off its touchscreen when you hold it next to your ear for a call. There is no chance of ever hitting an on-screen button with your cheek on this one.

We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8. The X8 scored “Average”, meaning you could miss some calls in noisier environments depending on the ringtones you use. More info on the test, as well as other results can be found found here.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overal score
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini 65.9 66.5 67.3 Below average
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 66.6 66.6 69.1 Average
Samsung I5700 Galaxy Spica 66.6 62.1 75.7 Average
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini pro 66.6 66.6 75.1 Good
Samsung S5620 Monte 75.7 69.7 75.7 Very good
HTC Desire 75.2 75.7 85.5 Excellent

Virtual QWERTY-fied messaging

The SMS and MMS messaging section is quite straightforward and simple. There’s the new message button on top and a list of all your messages organized into threads beneath.

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Writing an SMS

When you add multimedia content to the message, it is automatically turned into an MMS.

Moving onto email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. There is also a generic email app for all your other email accounts and it can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. The standard email app doesn’t do threaded email – this is enabled in Gmail only.

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The Gmail app

The default Instant Messaging app that comes with Android is Google Talk – and it’s very good. The G-Talk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.

The screen of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 is not big enough to accommodate a portrait landscape keyboard comfortably, but the landscape keyboard is nice to use. The virtual keyboard won’t please heavy texters perhaps but it’s good enough for the occasional use.

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The XPERIA X8 offers a virtual QWERTY keyboard

Gallery with one-finger zoom

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 gallery automatically locates the images, no matter where they are stored. There is none of the cool new look of Android 2.1 Eclair – you just get a plain grid with your images sorted by date.

The gallery supports finger scrolling or panning so you can skip images without having to return to the default view. Just sweep to the left or right when looking at a photo fullscreen, and the previous/next image will appear.

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The image gallery is decent but hardly the best we’ve seen

Pinch-zooming isn’t available but Sony Ericsson have come up with their own version of one-finger zoom that actually works great. You just hold your finger down and than sweep upwards for zooming in or downwards for zooming out. There’s also the double-tap zoom if that’s how you roll.

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The one-finger zooming is quick and responsive

Unfortunately, there is no Bluetooth file transfer in the gallery or any other fancy functionality that more demanding users might expect. The X8 is a simple tool for previewing your images and it won’t do much more than that.

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Bluetooth file transfers from the gallery are not an option

A basic video player on board

The video player is simple in looks and functionality. You get a list of all videos available on the phone and play/pause, skip controls, as well as a draggable progress bar.

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The video player is as simple as it gets

MP4 files are as good as it gets. The XPERIA midi cannot play DivX/XviD videos but you could look for a more versatile video player over at the Android Market.

The music player does the job

The music player on the XPERIA X8 didn’t get much in terms of new features. It manages your audio files decently but there is very little extra functionality beyond that.

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The music player is decent looking and snappy

The best bit is the Infinite key that allows you to quickly look up a song or album on YouTube or Sony Ericsson’s own Play Now arena.

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Pressing the Infinite button let’s you look up tracks on YouTube and Play Now arena

There isn’t even gradual typing for searching a specific song with the virtual QWERTY, so you will have to use the kinetic scrolling or opt for artist sorting. At least there are three smart playlists that automatically gather your Newly added, Most played and Never played tracks.

There are still a lot of shortcomings of the music player that need addressing, though. For example there are still no equalizer presets, nor any alternative skins.

Decently clean and pleasingly loud audio output

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 did decently in our traditional audio quality test. The best part of its performance is probably the high volume, but the spot-on frequency response and the low distortion levels are not to be neglected either.

The stereo crosstalk, dynamic range and noise level readings are hardly impressive, but they aren’t too bad either.

Interestingly enough, when headphones come into play the stereo crosstalk doesn’t increase as much as with some other handsets and is in fact better than we are used to seeing. The intermodulation distortion increases a bit but is still hardly something to worry about, while the rest of the readings remain decent, if unspectacular.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 +0.12, -0.55 -75.6 76.5 0.024 0.093 -70.7
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 (headphones attached) +0.31, -0.20 -74.9 75.6 0.093 0.341 -60.4
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini pro +0.12 -0.53 -86.8 89.2 0.030 0.101 -83.6
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini +0.18 -1.64 -86.5 88.9 0.028 0.409 -83.8
Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 +0.11, -0.45 -79.7 81.3 0.225 0.112 -75.1
Samsung I5500 Galaxy 5 (headphones attached) +0.61, -0.21 -79.4 81.5 0.024 0.633 -39.7
HTC Aria +0.12, -0.58 -84.5 86.9 0.022 0.172 -85.4
HTC Aria (headphones attached) +0.37, -0.15 -87.0 90.4 0.026 0.400 -52.3
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S +0.03 -0.04 -90.7 90.6 0.014 0.019 -90.6
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S (headphones attached) +0.40 -0.12 -90.7 90.6 0.018 0.329 -43.3
Apple iPhone 4 +0.01, -0.07 -90.1 90.0 0.0068 0.012 -89.6
Apple iPhone 4 (headphones attached) +0.01, -0.07 -90.4 90.4 0.0036 0.092 -68.4

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 frequency response
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

A good FM radio

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 is also equipped with an FM radio, which has a really neat and simple interface. It automatically scans the area for the available stations and places “notches” on the frequency dial for easier scrolling to the next station. Or you can mark some of them as favorite for easier scrolling.

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The neat FM radio app

An uninspiring 3 megapixel fixed-focus snapper

On the hardware side of things, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 has a 3 megapixel camera module for a maximum image resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. Sadly, there is neither autofocus nor flash.

The camera interface is as simple as it gets with three buttons in total. There is a camera/camcorder switch, a gallery button and scene mode. The four available scene presets include twilight, sports, beach/snow and, of course auto.

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The camera interface

You can enable geotagging, which is the most advanced feature available. You’ll have to go all the way to Settings / Sony Ericsson / Camera to find that option though, it’s not available in the camera app itself.

This is certainly one of the most basic camera interfaces on the market but we guess Sony Ericsson thought users wouldn’t need much more and would prefer simplicity to functionality. In the end, it all comes down to the image quality, so let’s see.

The image quality turned out to be disappointing. The aggressive noise reduction smudges fine detail and the white balance could’ve been better too.

Here are some real-world samples from the XPERIA X8 camera:

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Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 camera samples

Synthetic resolution

We also snapped our resolution chart with the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8. You can check out what that test is all about You can check out what that test is all about here.

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Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 resolution chart photo * 100% crops

VGA video recording

Video recording on the X8 goes as high as VGA resolution which, needless to say, is far from impressive. At least the framerate is a good 30 fps and consistent enough.

The interface of the camcorder is similar to the one on the still camera, except that there are even fewer settings. You can set the video quality, turn the video light on and off and that’s that.

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The camcorder mode

Videos are rendered in 3gp format suggesting lower bitrate, which in turn leads to some compression artifacts. Video also suffers from the lack of contrast so videos aren’t too nice to watch on a computer screen.

Here is VGA@30fps video sample shot at VGA@30fps.

Connectivity is well covered

Despite its size, you get all the connectivity options on the XPERIA X8. For starters, you get quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE for worldwide roaming and two versions with either dual-band (900/2100 MHz) or tri-band (850/1900/2100 MHz) 3G with HSPA.

As for local connectivity, the X8 offers USB v2.0, Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP support (no file transfer though) and Wi-Fi. The USB interface is standard microUSB and it can charge the phone over a USB connection to a computer.

The microSD card is accessible in mass storage mode or you can plug it into a card reader, which is the fastest way to do bulk data transfers.

A nice but Flash-less web browser

The Android browser on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 is a very good one – the major disadvantage is the lack of Flash support. This could change eventually, but the X8 will have to be updated to Android 2.2 Froyo.

The user interface is rather minimalist – all you get on the screen are the zoom controls. The address bar is hidden by default to save some space as the low resolution doesn’t allow much content to fit on the screen anyway.

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The X8 web browser

Unfortunately, the Android browser on the X8 supports only a single zoom method – the dedicated onscreen buttons. There is no double tap or one-finger zooming like in the Gallery.

On the positive side, the browser supports text reflow – as soon as you zoom, columns of text adjust to fit the screen width. And there’s also the nice magnifying glass browsing mode, which let’s you browse the page quickly until you reach the part that you want to focus and then zoom in on to read it.

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The magnifying glass mode can help you quickly search larges sites for specific bits of info

The minimalist UI is still quite powerful – hit the menu key and four keys pop up. You can open/switch tabs, refresh the page, go forward, open bookmarks.

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The available options • Multiple tabs can be opened

Flash support is the other letdown of the X8 browser. There is of course a YouTube application onboard but Flash content doesn’t start nor end with YouTube.

A nice organizer, only the doc viewer is missing

Our Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 came with no preinstalled document viewer so we had to snatch one off the Android Market. There is plenty of choice there so we don’t consider it too much of a disadvantage.

When you download an app it automatically integrates with the Gmail app as well, so you can view attachments. Unfortunately, you can’t save them in the phone memory (that only works for images). Attaching saved files (and we mean all kind of files) is possible though.

Another option is to use the Preview option of Gmail, which renders the Office file (or PDF) into HTML which is then displayed on the phone.

The calendar has only two view modes – daily and monthly. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.

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The calendar offers monthly and daily view modes only • Setting up an event

There is also a calculator, a timer and a stopwatch aboard. Those are all nicely touch optimized – the buttons are big enough and easy to hit.

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Calculator, timer and stopwatch

The XPERIA X8 features a decent alarm clock application, which allows a huge number of alarms to be set, each with its own start time and repeat pattern. We also found a nice little app called Data monitor. It is meant for users without unlimited data plans. The app alerts you once your usage reaches a certain amount of data in a certain amount of time.

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The Alarm clock app offers all you will ever need • The Data monitor

The RoadSync applications, which also come preinstalled, use the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol to provide push synchronization of your emails, contacts and calendar.

The Creatouch app lets you create your own wallpapers. It uses a simple yet nice interface.

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Creatouch lets you refresh your homescreen

Also on board there are a few games – Crazy Penguin, Tower Bloxx NY, Roller, CA Gold. The last two are demos.

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A few games are preloaded as well

Finally, the YouTube app partially compensates for the web browser’s lack of Flash support. Its interface is simple enough to let you find whatever you’re looking for as quickly as possible.

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The YouTube works fine

GPS navigation

No surprise, the X8 comes with Google Maps out of the box. Multi-touch doesn’t work so you’re stuck with the traditional zoom keys or double tapping.

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Naturally Google Maps is here too

A tap-and-hold on the screen activates a popup menu which ,among other things, can launch Street view. As usual, you can enjoy the 3D view of the area, which is controlled by sweep gestures with impressive fluidity. They can also make use of the built-in compass for an even better experience – just hold the phone in your hand and turn around and Street view will follow you.

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Street view also works with the built-in compass

If you’re in one of the supported countries you could try Google Maps Navigation – it should work on Android 1.6 Donut, even if some of the features from the Eclair version aren’t available (e.g. voice commands). Google Maps Navigation is the voice-prompt enabled version of Google Maps.

The other preinstalled map application is Wisepilot, which is found on other platforms. The thing about Wisepilot is that it requires a license for voice guided navigation and it downloads data over the Internet. That makes it unsuitable (or at least really expensive) for using abroad.

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WisePilot comes preinstalled and does voice-guided navigation

There are already several ways around that of course. The Android Market offers a dozen of applications (both free and paid) so it’s up to you to pick one that best suits you. The problem is that the screen and the phone itself seem too small to use for navigation but we guess everyone should judge that for themselves.

Shopping at the Android Market

The Android Market has grown a lot. It offers over 100,000 apps, the majority of which are free.

Some apps (like the official Twitter client) require Android 2.1, which leaves the XPERIA X8 out. For now, that is – the Eclair update for the XPERIA family is coming up.

The Market organizes apps and games into two separate tabs, and each tab shows the best in the relevant category. The third tab keeps track of what you’ve already downloaded.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8
The Android market will cover your 3rd party software needs

Searching is very easy – just tap the search button, type what you’re looking for (e.g. “navigation”). From then on, it’s pretty easy to choose – each app has a rating, a short description by the author, user comments and screenshots.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8
Checking out a single app details

Applications vary from pretty basic tools (such as the one that turns the display into a flashlight) to real must-have’s (including file managers, navigation software and more), but that’s true for every other app store.

Final words

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 has just made it to the market but parts of it still seem stuck in last year. At the same time though it is more than decently equipped for its 170 euro price tag. It has its downsides and those are easy to notice but there are a bunch of plusses too, especially if you are new to Android.

The Timescape app is one of the good things about the XPERIA X8. Another one is the Four corner UI which is user-friendly and makes good use of the screen estate. There is a great set of connectivity options too and, last but not least, the X8 screen is standard-issue 320 x 480 pixels. If you’ve been paying attention you’d know we’re not too fond of QVGA droids. The XPERIA X10 minis have a legitimate excuse.

And while we’re at it: the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini and X10 mini pro have a 2.55” QVGA display each. That’s small and low-res but we’re talking some of the smallest smartphones ever. The important point is whether and how the X8 benefits from the added size and pixel density.

The X8 gives the user interface a lot more room to work with and handling is more user-friendly. Standard resolution lets the phone make better use of the Android market. On the bigger screen web browsing is now a different story.

On the other hand, there’s still no multi-touch and banding is perhaps more annoying than on the minis. In the end though, the X8 makes more sense for routine everyday tasks. The X10 minis are in a different league. They’re so small they’re special. And obviously still more expensive – both cost over 200 euro each.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini pro
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini • Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini pro

Another option is the LG GT540 Optimus (priced at less than 150 euro) or maybe its recently announced successor, the upcoming Optimus One P500. The Optimus comes with a resistive touchscreen and the same limited storage for apps but its camera has autofocus and its Android 2.1 update has already been released. But while the Optimus One seems like a more viable alternative, it’s expected to cost around 235 euro.

LG GT540 Optimus LG Optimus One P500
LG GT540 Optimus • LG Optimus One P500

Last but not least, there’s the HTC Wildfire. With a multi-touch-enabled 3.2” screen, a 5MP autofocus snapper, HTC Sense and premium finish, it is all but ready to blow the X8 apart. However, the QVGA touchscreen ruins it all – it’s just too low to let the Wildfire deliver a proper Android user experience. The HTC Wildfire costs around 30 euro more than the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 but we won’t fuss it.

HTC Wildfire
HTC Wildfire

If we have to name one phone that we’ll choose over the X8 any day, no questions asked, it would be the HTC Aria (or its just announced twin, the HTC Gratia). But – and it’s a big one – the price tag is a big part of the equation. The X8 is hard to beat really if budget is your first concern.

Let’s face it: the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 misses the wow factor. It has something else instead – a fair price and a well balanced set of features. Can’t be so bad now, can it? Unfortunately, it can. And while the competition isn’t too hard at least for a while, Sony Ericsson are damaging their own prospects by taking too long with the Android upgrades.