Sony Ericsson has had a bit of a topsy turvy time with its Android phones over the years. Its first few attempts, including the Xperia X1 and Xperia X10, didn't quite get the balance right but the X10 mini and X10 mini pro both impressed us and were intriguing options if you were looking for a particularly small phone.
The company's latest attempt, then, is the Xperia X8. It sits somewhere between the X10 mini and full-size X10 in terms of size, making for a small-but-not-tiny Android smartphone. It's also relatively inexpensive at just £130, or free on £15pm contracts.
The X8's design is a tough one to nail down. It's clearly not the most elegant device going and its plastic construction certainly makes itself known. However, it feels solid and well put together, and has a certain charm. If colour's your thing, you'll be pleased to know the backplate is available in a variety of thereof, though the front remains pearlescent white whichever you choose.
Where perhaps the phone most prominently shows its budget orientation is the front and more specifically the screen. The markedly grey (rather than black) and plastic 3in rectangle is slightly recessed into the bezel, which slighty hampers usability. The bezel is also rather wide, making the screen appear smaller than it actually is.
Otherwise, the general hardware of the X8 is rather impressive. The three buttons under the screen are responsive and easily distinguished while the sides are home to more features than you might expect at this price.
Up top there's a microUSB socket (underneath a somewhat annoying plastic flap), the power/screen lock button, and headphone socket that is compatible with Sony Ericsson's inline headsets – thus the odd shape. A headset that provides reasonable quality audio and decent noise isolation comes in the box however it isn't actually of the aforementioned Sony Ericsson proprietary type.
The left and bottom edges are devoid of features but on the right is a volume rocker and, joy of joys, a shutter button for the camera. Finally, there's the camera itself that sits on the back, sadly without an LED flash to accompany it.