Sony Xperia XA Ultra first impressions: Return of the Ultra

The Sony Xperia XA Ultra sounds like a good package on paper and is quite handsome in terms of looks, here is a quick first look at the new phablet.


The new Sony Xperia smartphone lineup was officially announced for the Indian market this week which include two 5-inch handsets, the Xperia X and Xperia XA. The company also showcased its latest phablet, the Xperia XA Ultra which is the largest member of the family that is headed to India in a month or so.

Sony has tried to enter the phablet market ever since it launch the Xperia Z Ultra followed by other devices like the T2 Ultra and C5 Ultra and this would be the latest handset to get the ‘Ultra’ moniker. Here is a quick first look at the device.


Design

At first glance, the Xperia XA Ultra looks very similar to the Xperia C5 Ultra thanks to the large selfie camera and an edge-to-edge display. Sony says that this is one of the main USP's of the smartphone, being a 6-inch device with a footprint of a 5.5-inch, and well it actually does. Sony has put in plenty of hardwork in the ‘borderless display’ appearance. While using the smartphone, it is hard to tell that there is actually a bezel on the sides of the display.

 Sony Xperia XA Ultra first impressions: Return of the Ultra

The handset has the front covered in a curved 2.5D glass which gives it a premium feel, a metal frame in the middle and a matte plastic finish on the back, similar to the Xperia XA. There is a single speaker in a slim slit on the top end of the front face and below it lies the 16MP front-facing camera, an LED flash and the usual set of sensors. The top edge has the headphone jack and a mic for video recording, the right edge has a round power/sleep button along with the volume rocker and a dedicated camera shutter button. The left edge has flap that protects the SIM card and microSD card slots. The bottom has a microUSB port and the microphone when making a phone-call. The back, as mentioned before, has a matte finish and also houses the 21MP camera with an LED flash.

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The design and build of the smartphone feels great and Sony has still kept a similar looking rectangular shape, there are certain changes which definitely make the phablet premium.

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Display

Sony has used a stunning looking edge-to-edge display panel with a lot of software tweaks that make the colours pop out. Sharpness is very good even with a 1920x1080 resolution and 367ppi. There is also an option to turn on a Vivid Mode that increases the contrast of the display. Add to this Sony’s X-Reality for mobile feature that enhances the overall quality of the pictures and videos viewed on the massive 6-inch display.

Viewing angles are excellent and under the sunlight, well cloudy skies, the display didn’t give any issues. The protective glass over the display is curved around the edges giving it a nice feel and a high-quality finish.

Hardware and performance

Yet again, Sony has gone with a MediaTek SoC, the new MT6755 octa-core Helio P10 clocked at 2GHz along with a Mali-T860MP2 GPU. There is 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage along with an option to add a microSD card of up to 200GB. On the connectivity side you get dual SIM card slots, 4G LTE support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and USB OTG. The configuration provides adequate amount of power to the handset and everything seemed pretty solid. No signs of stutter or lag,but of course we can only come to a verdict when we take it through the tests.

OS

Sony’s approach to the UI has mostly been very clean and it is pretty much the same on the Xperia XA Ultra. Running on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, it is mostly stock with a bit of Sony flavouring which includes wallpapers, theme options and a bunch of homescreen settings to fiddle with. Overall the UI looks simple and very responsive. There is some bloatware on-board though, to which Sony said that it is easily removable, but somehow most of them only got disabled instead of deleting from the smartphone.

Camera

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The Xperia XA Ultra uses a 21.5MP rear camera with a 1/2.4" sensor with phase detection auto-focus and an LED flash. The quality is somehow similar to the Xperia Z5 with good pictures in daylight, but visible loss of details when shooting in low light or indoors. The front camera makes the XA Ultra a selfie beast. It comprises a 16MP 1/2.6 inch type sensor with autofocus, OIS and even an LED flash. The front camera can take really good looking selfies and some very impressive low light pictures thanks to the OIS. It was surprising to see the company using OIS for the front camera and not the rear unit. Both the cameras can take 1080p videos which look fairly good and stable. The new camera app is clean and easy to use and offers a variety of modes, filters and tweaking tools.

Verdict

The latest phablet from Sony sounds like a good package on paper and is quite handsome in terms of looks. The cameras are pretty good Sony hasn't confirmed a price point for the smartphone, which is something that the company has to work on. A price tag of Rs 20,000 would make a lot of sense, but Sony gave us a hint that it will be somewhere around the Rs 30,000 mark, which doesn't sound very justified.


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