Is end of October and the prices for entry-level Android phones have crashed. Where once the HTC Wildfire reigned surpreme in the budget market, the likes of Huawei and LG are quickly coming in with cheaper prices.
However, the most surprising model around at the moment is the new Sony Ericsson Xperia X8. This Android phone in almost all areas is the equivalent of the popular Legend from HTC, yet it’s being sold for a fraction of the cost. This is definitely a sign of the growing competition not only in the handset business but even amongst the component manufacturers.
TheSony Ericsson Xperia X8 features Qualcomm’s 600MHz MSM7227 processor, the same chip inside the HTC Legend. It also comes with a similar 3.2-inch/320×480-pixel (HVGA) capacitive touchscreen LCD panel. Considering the phone is being sold in Australia at retail for $AU249 and in the UK for £130, which is about half the cost of the Legend, consumers are already way out in front.
However, one of the reasons I believe for the low cost, and it’s a surprising one, is the Android version on offer here.
For a phone that has only just been released, the fact it only features Android Donut 1.6 is probably it’s most significant drawback. Given the Legend features Android 2.1-update, there’s no technical reason why the level of hardware inside the X8 cannot handle Android Eclair (2.1) or even the Froyo (2.2) release, which would no doubt perform even better given its noted performance improvements.
Even as early as mid-September, word was getting out about an Android 2.1 update for the larger X10. And that update is finally being released today for the X10 and X10 Mini. However, there is still no word on even the Android Eclair (2.1) update, let alone anything about Froyo. The company stated in its blog that an Android Eclair (2.1) update would be coming to the X8 but no time frame other than “later this year” was given. This is pretty sad.
Ultimately, it’s unlikely we’ll see Froyo running on the X8 – at least officially. Although given Android 2.2 (Froyo) has been out since July, why Sony Ericsson has just gone with a Froyo update and skipped Eclair is the obvious question. In Australia, telco giant Telstra late last week announced the Froyo update for the HTC Desire and one of the reasons for the delay noted by the telco was unforeseen delays in HTC’s testing. The DIY community has had an unofficial Froyo ROM available for the Desire for some weeks.
The problem is updating the OS on a phone is no trivial matter and the time (and cost) of testing would be considerable so while Google is on a continual release schedule for Android, phone makers have to draw the line somewhere in offering updates to previously-sold handsets.
Still, if Sony Ericsson were to skip Eclair for Froyo, the Xperia X8 would jump considerably up the ladder to just about become the entry-level Android phone to buy. As it is given its price, the only thing holding theSony Ericsson Xperia X8 back is its older operating system.
A Froyo-powered X8 at its $AU 249/Euro 175/GBP 130 price tag would be very hard to resist.
Do you have a question? Leave a comment.
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