First Looks: Sony Ericsson Xperia X8
Finding the Middle Ground
Sony Ericsson has further expanded its Xperia family of mobile devices to include the midsized Xperia X8, joining the ranks of the X10, the smaller X10 mini and the mini pro. Like all its predecessors, Timescape is still heavily featured. The UI also takes its cue from the X10 mini series, featuring the four-corner touch screen user interface. Hence the question here is: do we really need another rehashed Xperia device? We set out to see if the X8 has enough character to set itself apart from the rest of the series.
The classy looking X8 comes with a matte white plastic surface, a departure from its glossier counterparts. Not that we are complaining, since it makes maintenance a fuss-free affair. To add on, if you are the type who likes some variety in your phone's appearance, you will be glad to know that all local sets will come with either an additional silver or pink back cover.
The X8's diminutive 3-inch screen dictates its size, and we can safely say that the X8 is small by today’s smartphone standards. This makes it easy on the hands, with a solid grip that’s aided by a rather sizable thickness. That doesn’t mean that the X8 is overly chunky though - in fact, it is thinner than the two X10 minis.
Drawing your attention to the front controls, the X8 comes with three staple buttons (Menu, Home and Back) identical to those found on its predecessors, so the navigation experience is more or less what you will expect if you have played with any of the Xperia handsets before.
As mentioned earlier, the ingenious four-corner touch screen UI returns on the X8. When it first made its appearance on the X10 mini series, this UI gained traction for making navigation a fluid affair on phones with tiny screens. This convenience is replicated in the X8. The handy Timescape is also available here, keeping all your major social networking needs in one place.
Just like the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini, there's a twenty page limit for you to place widgets, with each page limited to one widget. Additionally, Sony Ericsson has also preloaded three apps, namely ShowNearby, Evernote and TrackID. These however, are not exclusive to the X8 handset, but have been available on all Xperia smartphones since October.
The messaging experience on the X8 is hardly perfect, but we didn't have too many reasons to complain about. While the QWERTY keys are too thin for our liking, typing was fairly smooth with few errors. The user experience here is commendable, thanks in part to a responsive touchscreen and a decent 600MHz processor.
In the camera department, the X8 takes a nosedive in quality. Equipped with a rudimentary 3.2-megapixel camera with no auto-focus and flash capabilities, you are pretty much restricted in terms of photography. The quality of photos wasn't too bad, sporting accurate colors with fuzziness and some loss of details around the edges. Audio-wise, the X8 failed to impress, exhibiting average results with muddled and weak bass. Vocals came across as sharp, and airy, something that we had also observed on the previous X10 mini series.
The Odd Fellow
The X8 is much closer in specs to its X10 mini cousins than the flagship X10. With that said, it is so similar that there’s nothing much to set itself apart from them, aside from a larger screen and an inferior camera. The main problem with the X8 is that it feels outdated - the cooler aspects of the phone have already been implemented on previous Xperia handsets. With nothing new to offer, the X8 is a rehash of the same old formula and this time, it can't even count on the novelty factor, unlike its predecessors.