Sony has been struggling to keep up in the smartphone business for the past couple of years now, but that hasn’t stopped the company from launching a new flagship year on year. It hasn’t shown anything radical in the market as of yet, probably one of the reasons why their sales have gone down. This year the company announced a new series ditching the three-year old ‘Z’ series for the ‘X’.
The new Xperia X was showcased at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year along with its powerful brother the Xperia X Performance. While the X Performance is only arriving in limited regions, the Xperia X was announced in India for a hefty price of Rs 48,999. Does this kind of pricing justify what Sony offers? Here is our review of the smartphone.
Design and build: 7.5/10
The Xperia X looks similar to previous generation of Xperia Z5 smartphones having a rectangular design with slightly rounded edges. It’s a clean and aesthetically pleasing device. The X brings back the 5-inch form factor and this time you get a 2.5D scratch-resistant curved glass covering the entire face of the smartphone. This is a small change but it adds a punch to your touchscreen experience especially when you are swiping edge-to-edge.
Above the display there is an earpiece slot which also houses one of the two loudspeakers and a notification LED. There is also the 13MP front camera, and the usual set of sensors. Below the display there is similar slot for the second loudspeaker. The NFC chip is on the top front this time which seems like an odd positioning, to which Sony says it was just a design choice and for convenience.
A metal frame holds the device together with a frosted finish. The right edge houses the fingerprint scanner which is also the power button, the volume rocker keys and a dedicated camera shutter button. The left edge houses a hybrid SIM card slot, at the bottom there is a microUSB port and at the top you get the standard 3.5mm audio jack as well as a microphone for video recording. The back is plastic with a matte finish which feels really nice. The 23MP rear camera sits on the top left corner as usual with the LED flash below. The camera does bulge out ever so slightly, but it isn't any sort of a distraction in the design flow.
Sony always brings a sense of high-quality to its smartphone designs and has always relied on a simple yet well polished approach. The Xperia X is definitely premium when it comes to looks and build quality. The only negative here is that the company has dropped the water and dust proof features which was always a USP for Sony.
For the first time Sony has chosen not to go for a premium SoC on its flagship and has rather gone for slightly less powerful one. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 which is a six-core processor with two 1.8 GHz Cortex-A72 cores and the remaining 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 cores backed up with an Adreno 510 GPU. This is the same processor that powers the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 which is selling for a mere Rs 9,999. In the memory department you get 3GB of RAM and 64GB of inbuilt storage which can be expanded further by using the second SIM card slot.
Rest of the features include a 5-inch full HD display, a 23MP rear camera, a 13MP front camera and a 2,620 mAh battery. On the connectivity front, you get 4G LTE and VoLTE support, dual SIM capability, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, Wi-fi, FM Radio, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS and USB OTG. The smartphone runs on the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow update with a very light UI on top.
On paper, the Xperia X sounds more of mid-segment smartphone rather than a premium flagship. The company has put in beefier hardware on the Xperia X Performance, which sadly is not going to arrive in India.
The display combines all of Sony’s technologies including Bravia, Triluminos, and X-Reality display in a 5-inch IPS LCD offering a 1080p resolution. While it sounds all good, it doesn’t match up with other flagships at this price point offering a 2K resolution display like the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the HTC 10. Sony had launched the ridiculous 4K display equipped Xperia Z5 Premium last year, but its seems that Sony is taking a safer bet and focusing on quality rather than going big on resolution, and hey, a 1080p display always consumes less battery.
Even though you don't get high pixel density or AMLOED technology, the display still manages to impress. It offers really accurate colours and the saturation of colours is amazing. The white balance is slightly towards the blues but nothing still feels balanced.
The phone also comes with some algorithms that enhance pictures and videos by default and via the X-Reality mode, which has been around for sometime now. There is also a Super-vivid mode that utilises the X-Reality mode and boosts the contrast and colours. While these modes do improve the overall quality of your media on the smartphone, it can get deceptive when you actually transfer images to your PC.
Sunlight legibility is pretty good and we really liked the auto-brightness sensor as it gradually increased or decreased brightness that too very consistently.
The Xperia X runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow making it the first Xperia phone to launch with the this update. There is a light UI on top but the system does take up a lot of storage. You get some peppy wallpapers, some themes and some useful settings around the homescreen. The UI doesn't slow down at any point of time and the overall experience is very snappy.
In terms of pre-installed apps, there are many including a few games. Sony says that they can be removed without any issues, but when we tried uninstalling, we ended up disabling most of them rather than completely removing them.
The quick settings, apps switcher and menus are very close to stock which is nice. Sony has added a new Smart cleaning feature that automatically cleans up the cache of apps you don't use very often, of course you can always switch it off and do it manually. Then you have the usual battery management modes and also a backup feature directly integrated into the system backup settings and can backup your applications, contacts, messages, phone settings to a Sony online account or on your storage.
The Xperia X runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor which is a very good chipset and it proved its capability on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, but it clearly doesn't make any sense on a flagship priced at Rs 48,999.
Thankfully it provides a good performance package. The 3GB of RAM helps in efficient multitasking and the Adreno 510 GPU is also great at churning performance for heavy games like Asphalt 8: Airborne or Dead Trigger 2. Every task such as checking your email, skimming through Facebook, clicking a picture or two were all managed really well. The overall performance felt quite apt for a mid-ranger, but with that kind of pricing, it is nowhere near a flagship smartphone. Heating is managed well most of the times, but using the camera extensively does make the smartphone go warm. It even sends out a warning message in the camera app saying that some features might not work as the phone is heating up.
Even the benchmarks proved to be very similar to what we saw on the Redmi Note 3.
In terms of call quality, we faced a minor glitch where the microphone would randomly stop working for a few seconds, or completely shutdown when you pick a call. That is probably a faulty unit that we got and are currently testing another unit to check the issue. We will update accordingly if we notice any changes.
We were impressed by the audio quality on the smartphone as Sony has crammed in a number of settings for the audiophile. Even the dual speakers are pretty good although not the best in class.
Sony is currently one of the biggest manufacturers of smartphone camera sensors, yet the company hasn't managed to make us go wow. This time the company has used a new 23MP rear camera with an f/2.0 aperture and a 24mm wide angle lens. There is also phase detection autofocus, an LED flash and a 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS image sensor. The front camera is also an upgrade featuring a 13 MP 1/3-inch Exmor RS sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and a 22mm wide angle lens.
Sony has stressed on the speed of the camera and has added a Predictive Hybrid Autofocus system that allows you to tap on your subject once and track its movement with correct focus. This works well when you have moving subjects but isn't very well polished. Then there is the option to instantly take a picture by just pressing the dedicated camera key even when the phone is locked in just 0.6 seconds. We tested this feature and it did work as the company claimed but there were times that we were left images that were not correctly exposed, defeating the whole purpose, but still a nice feature to have.
The camera app is fairly simple and allows you to switch between, auto, manual and video modes and a special section for some pre-installed modes like Sweep Panorama, Slow-motion video, Face in picture, Sound Photo and more.
The camera has a lot of potential and offers one of the highest resolutions on smartphones today. It can produce some good looking pictures with close to natural colours although a bit undersaturated. But yet again it suffers what all the previous cameras on Sony smartphones have suffered, mediocre noise reduction. Details seem to be missing when there is less or low light. The Superior auto mode wasn't very efficient and we ended up shooting more on the manual mode, even though we could only adjust the white balance, exposure compensation and ISO.
Sony has also removed 4K video recording which is quite a bummer as almost every flagship and even budget smartphones offer UHD video recording. Still, 1080p videos look really good and sharp with focusing hitting the right spots.
The front camera can squeeze in a lot of pixels and Sony claims that the sensor can handle low light very well. Selfies look pretty good but some of them taken indoors weren't as crisp as outdoors. The front camera can also shoot 1080p videos which is again fairly good but nothing very compelling.
Sony has incorporated a 2,620mAh battery on the Xperia X. For a such a capacity, one would expect less than a day’s worth of charge, but surprisingly it goes on all day if you are a casual user. Heavy usage did consume almost all of the battery by evening but you get some nice and efficient battery saving modes. Apart from offering Quick Charge 2.0 for fast charging, the handset also comes with a Qnovo battery which is claimed offer a longer life, much better than a conventional Lithium battery.
Verdict and Price in India
The Sony Xperia X was announced at Rs 48,999 and is currently selling for about Rs 46,000 on Amazon.in. Now there has been a quick drop in the price, but it is still a very high amount. The smartphone is very well made and offers a sturdy performance package but not for the price that Sony is asking.
A smartphone like this should not go beyond Rs 20,000 considering the fact that you don't get a high-end chipset and a camera which is fast but not the best in quality. If you want a similar performance package, you should save your money and buy a Redmi Note 3 which starts at just Rs 9,999.
A much powerful Samsung Galaxy S7 is currently available for Rs 46,000 which is a much better flagship than the Xperia X. Sony should've brought in the Xperia X Performance at this price point and maybe, just maybe it would've reclaimed some of its glory. By selling smartphones at a premium price, the company is just losing out on more consumers.
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