Sony Xperia XA, X and X Performance first impressions: Towards a new destination, but the same old road

Sony announced three new smartphones at the Mobile World Congress this year namely the Xperia XA, Xperia X and Xperia X Performance.


Sony announced three new smartphones at the Mobile World Congress this year namely the Xperia XA, Xperia X and Xperia X Performance. Of these the X Performance is the top of the line phone whereas the XA is the mid-range one. This is a departure form the Z series smartphones that we are used to seeing from Sony being launched on a half yearly basis. So instead of the Zx/Zx Premium/Zx Compact, we saw a completely new series launch at this MWC. Is this the end of the Z-series? We don’t know, but then with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset on the X Performance, it wouldn’t be completely wrong to assume that.

Sony Xperia XA

In terms of looks and design, the Xperia XA breaks away from the mould of its elder siblings. For starters it has an edge-to-edge display with barely any bezel thickness and the edges are also a bit rounded. The rear cover of the phone seems plasticky.

 Sony Xperia XA, X and X Performance first impressions: Towards a new destination, but the same old road
Sony-Xperia-XA-1

Sony has gone ahead with a 5-inch HD IPS LCD display for the Xperia XA. Thanks to the 5-inch form factor, the phone fits nicely in the palm of your hand. It houses the MediaTek Helio P10 chipset inside which is also known as MediaTek MT6755 along with 2GB of RAM. There is 16GB of storage out of the box and you have the option to expand it to up to 200GB as well using a microSD card.

On the camera front, you get a 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front facing camera. It will certainly be looking at the young crowd who is interested in making their selfies. A 2300mAh battery powers the Xperia XA.


Sony-Xperia-XA

Barring the edge to edge display design, there is nothing really that stands apart as far as the Xperia XA smartphone is concerned. The display may seem a bit underwhelming considering that a 5-inch FHD display has become a norm for most mid-range smartphones. There were no price details announced for the Xperia XA.

Sony Xperia X/X Performance

The only differences between the Xperia X and the Xperia X Performance is the chipset and the water proofing certification. The X Performance houses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset whereas the Xperia X comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset. The other difference is that the Xperia X comes with 2620mAh battery whereas the X Performance comes with a 2700mAh battery. Everything else is the same on both the devices.

Sony Xperia X

Sony Xperia X

Sony X Performance

Sony X Performance

In terms of design on the X and X Performance borrow a lot of elements from the Z5 series of phones and the Z3 before them. You have the matte cover (matte cover with brush metal finish for the Xperia X Performance) with the same power/standby button also acting as a fingerprint scanner. The screen size has gone down from 5.2-inches on the Z5 series to a more modest 5-inch full HD display. Both the phones sport an IPS LCD display, but the X Performance comes with IP68 certification, thereby making it water and dust resistant.

Sony Xperia X

Sony Xperia X

Both the phones come with 3GB of RAM and the Xperia X comes with 32GB storage for the single SIM variant and 64GB storage for the dual SIM variant. You can expand the storage on both the phones to 200GB. In terms of operating system, you get Android 6.0 Marshmallow along with the Xperia skin atop it.

The camera module on both the phones has got an upgrade. Both the X and X Performance sport a 23MP rear camera and a 13MP front facing camera. It uses the Predictive hybrid auto focus system which Sony says it has developed by working closely with the Sony Alpha camera engineers. According to Sony, the system lets you choose your subject and the camera will then predict its motion to let you shoot blur free images.

While all that sounds great on paper, we noticed that the feature was clearly a hit and miss affair. Maybe it has to do with the uneven lighting conditions. But we found that the focus tracking was capable for a couple of seconds before the Xperia X cameras lost the subject altogether. It certainly needs more finesse before Sony starts to shout about a blur-free experience.

Also as we have noticed with older Sony flagships, the heating issue when the cameras on Xperia phones is turned on, things don’t seem to have changed much with the Xperia X at last. While trying out the tracking focus feature, we realised that the rear side of the Xperia X had quickly started to heat up, even when we hadn't even started recording! With a smartphone with as excellent cameras as the Sony, it is indeed a pity if the phone heats up every time you fire up your mobile phone camera.

Conclusion

None of the Sony devices have got a price and an exact launch date. This seems to be a trend at this year’s MWC, with LG G5 as well as the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 edge also yet to get an exact price point.

In terms of the newly launched phones, it feels a lot like the older phones although with incremental upgrades. Thankfully, there were no gimmicks such as a 4K display, this time around. Sony phones are good performers and their cameras especially so. But as we had noticed with the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z5 series, heating remains to be a big issue.

Sony Xperia X

Sony Xperia X

Another major shortcoming with Sony phones is their unrealistic pricing for their flagship devices, for which they have faced a lot of flak in the past. If Sony is going ahead with a new slate with the X series, pricing is one area where it really needs to put some thought into, specially in the price and value concious Indian smartphone market. The phone is expected to come out sometime in June or July, so Sony still has some time to get the tracking focus feature right.

Disclaimer: The correspondent was invited by Oppo India to attend the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. All flight and accommodation expenses are taken care of by Oppo India.

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