Sony Xperia XA review
|Review: June 2016|
Last updated December 2016
In a nutshell: The Sony Xperia XA is a beautifully-styled phone, with an "Infinity Glass" design giving it high-end looks at an affordable price. It's fast too, thank to its 8-core processor, and dual-core GPU. But the screen's resolution is on the low side, and battery life is challenged.
Today's best buy: Sony Xperia XA1 from Currys (£149.99)
Design & looks
The Sony Xperia XA has launched quickly after the release of the Sony X, and is a mid-to-higher end phone that's much more affordable.
It's another sleek, slimline phone with Sony's familiar flat rectangular shape and premium styling. The XA is very nearly the same size as the Xperia X, but is a couple of millimetres narrower, with an "infinity display" which stretches right to the left and right edges of the phone, curving gently at the extremities to meet the rounded edges of the phone. It's a nice look, and definitely lifts the phone above the ordinary. The front and back of the phone are perfectly flat and smooth, and the familiar power button, volume rocker and camera button are in their usual places. But unlike the Xperia X, the XA doesn't have a fingerprint sensor.
The XA is available in a choice of Black, White, Lime Gold or Rose Gold.
The screen is large, measuring 5 inches diagonally, and is bright with vivid colours, but disappointingly has a resolution of just 720 x 1280 pixels, giving it a modest 294 ppi pixel density. That's not really good enough for a phone at this price.
8-core Mediatek Helio P10 processor
Mediatek might not be a familiar brand in the UK, but there's no need to worry. This is an octacore processor consisting of 8 Cortex A53 CPUs running at up to 2GHz, so it's a very fast configuration for a mid-range phone. Equipped with a Mali-T860 64-bit dual-core graphics processor, it's powerful enough to handle 3D games with finesse, and the 2GB of RAM is big enough to keep everything running smoothly.
The 16BG of memory should be sufficient for most users, especially with the microSD card slot allowing up to 200GB of extra storage to be added for relatively little cost.
The phone runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and the Xperia user interface is largely unobtrusive.
13 megapixel Exmor RS camera
The Xperia XA uses a Sony Exmor RS sensor with 13 megapixels. Hybrid autofocus enables it to focus quickly, and HDR mode is available, but we can't say that this camera performs any better than the average for a phone costing in excess of £200.
1080p video capture is available, and a front-facing 8 megapixel camera with an Exmor R sensor lets you snap selfies until your face wears out.
The XA is a category 4 LTE 4G phone, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, USB, GPS/GLONASS, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
This is a slim phone, so we understand that battery size is likely to be compromised. However, the 2300mAh battery is very much at the bottom end of what we'd hope for in a phone of this spec. Those 8 processor cores will need feeding, and we're not convinced that there's enough juice in this battery to keep them happy. Sony claims a 2 day battery life, but we reckon most people will struggle to achieve this.
Conclusion - good looks, but far from perfect
The Xperia XA has a beautiful design and fast performance, but in other areas it's not as good as we'd like. The screen isn't as sharp as most rivals, the camera isn't anything special, and the battery life is definitely trending low.
Instead we'd choose the Sony M5, a phone that costs about the same, but outperforms the Xperia XA in key areas - camera, battery life, and screen sharpness. Other outstanding options include the Huawei P9 Lite and Samsung S5 Neo. You can see that there's no shortage of choice in the £200 - £300 price bracket.
Sony Xperia XA features include:
- Operating system: Android Marshmallow
- 13 megapixel Exmor RS camera with 5x clear image zoom, hybrid autofocus, HDR, LED flash, 1080p video capture
- 8 megapixel front-facing Exmor R camera with HDR, 1080p video capture
- Display: 5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels, Mobile Bravia engine 2, Super vivid mode
- FM radio
- Processor: MediaTek helio P10 64-bit 8-core 2GHz processor with dual-core 64-bit Mali-T860 graphics core
- Memory: 16GB flash memory plus 2GB RAM plus 200GB memory card slot
- Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, compass
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.1, USB, NFC, DLNA, 3.5mm audio jack, aGPS/GLONASS
- 4G LTE Cat 4, UMTS HSPA+, GSM GPRS/EDGE
- Size: 144 x 67 x 7.9 mm
- Weight: 137g
- Battery: 2300mAh
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