Sony Ericsson X8 review: XPERIA in the middle
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.