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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.