Sony Ericsson releases cheaper Android phone, X8

Sony Ericsson unveiled its fourth smartphone based on Google's Android platform, the Xperia X8, and positioned it as a cheaper alternative to its flagship X10 model. The handset maker also accelerated the software upgrade schedule for its three other Android phones, and said they will be upgraded to Android 2.1 beginning in the third quarter.

The company, which in the first quarter had its first quarterly profit since 2008, is trying to bounce back on the strength of its Android phones and its custom UX user interface. However, some critics have pointed out that the firm's Android phones have been running outdated versions of Android and are quickly being surpassed by newer, flashier Android models.

Sony Ericsson said that the X10, X10 mini and X10 mini pro will all be upgraded to Android 2.1, beginning in the third quarter. The X10 will also be getting 720p video capture support as a result of the upgrade, which is earlier than the fourth quarter estimate Sony Ericsson had previously given. The company said an additional upgrade for the X10 in the fourth quarter will make it possible to connect wirelessly to and display content on your television and enhance the Timescape and Mediascape applications.

The X8, which runs on Android 1.6, features the company's Timescape function. Timescape allows users to browse all of their communications with a contact--via photos, emails, texts, Facebook and Twitter--in one view. The X8 also has a "four corners" feature that gives one-handed, one-touch access to applications. The phone features a 3-inch screen, 3.2-megapixel camera, WiFi, A-GPS and a 2 GB microSD card. Sony Ericsson said the device will be available in the third quarter. A Sony Ericsson spokeswoman said that the company will determine on a market-by-market basis whether to launch the phone with Android 2.1 or upgrade later.

Sony Ericsson did not reveal the price of the device but said it will be available at a "more accessible price point." No carrier partners were named, but the X8 has support for AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) 850/1900 MHz HSPA network. The company has yet to name a carrier for any of its Android phones. 

For more:
- see this release
- see this CNet article
- see this CNet article

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