If the Samsung Galaxy S7 and and LG G5 revealed weren’t enough to satisfy your smartphone cravings, you'll be glad to hear that Sony has also revealed a whole range of new handsets at MWC.
The Xperia X and XA are two mid and entry-level handsets destined for the UK this summer, and we said hello to the X at the Sony booth.
We’d like to stress that, even more so than is usually the case with this sort of thing, Sony's Xperia X samples at MWC are very much at the prototype stage, so while it's ok to form one or two early impressions, we're not drawing any conclusions at this stage - and you'd be wise to do the same.
Got that? Cool beans! Let's continue...
The X is instantly recognisable as a Sony handset. Its minimalist rectangular design is unmistakable, and its metal rear and overall build feels as premium as the company’s flagship handsets.
It’s hard to hear any creaks amongst the chaos of the MWC show floor, but despite not being a final hardware unit, the Xperia X we spent time with certainly had a solid feel to it.
The side-mounted power button will be familiar to Xperia Z5 users, and it’s in a prime position for easy, instant unlocking. The same downside still applies, however - it’s less convenient to unlock the Xperia X when it’s resting on a table, but that’s arguably a small price to pay when you consider how often you’ll take it out of of your pocket and unlock it instead. It all boils down to personal pereference.
The usual microSD/SIM flap remains on the side of the handset, while dual front-facing speakers grace the front. There’s no way we can judge them while Sony’s stand speakers blast out music, so we’ll have to wait for our final review to see if they can hold a candle to the HTC One M9’s BoomSound speakers.
The Xperia X’s 5.1in 1080p display appears to be solid, serving up 443 pixels per inch. No, that’s not as pixel-packed as flagships such as the Galaxy S7 or LG G5, but at this screen size, we haven’t seen anything that would concern us - icons and text are sharp, and the viewing angles are very good.
Colours are more muted than rival AMOLED-based panels, but given the unfinished status of our hands-on unit, we have to wait for our final review before pitting the Xperia X’s screen directly against the competition. Its LCD technology means that it's very unlikely to offer up the same true blacks as AMOLED rivals, but a slightly more muted palette can be appealing to some eyes.
One big selling point of the Xperia X, according to Sony, is its 23MP camera. It has a new hardware and software-based autofocus system that utilises technology from Sony’s Alpha camera range, and it improves on Sony’s past smartphone efforts by measuring the size of moving objects to work out whether they're moving towards or away from the camera, and predicting where their next position will be to help capture sharp shots.
It’ll come in particularly handy when the kids are bouncing off the walls in a sugar-fuelled frenzy, or capturing live sports action/cat laser-chasing championships.
The demo unit Sony set up at the stand involves using the Xperia X to take shots of erratically moving coloured balls. From what we’ve seen, the camera starts and snaps photos at a very fast rate, and the focus is sharp, for the most part.
On occasions, we did notice that the odd ball was a bit blurry (while the rest of the shot remained in focus), but again - these aren’t final hardware or software units, so we're not going to make a judgement based on those few flawed photos.
We’d really like to try out the low-light capabilities of the X, as well as seeing how its 13MP front-facing camera handles dimly lit late-night outings, but that’s something else that’s going to have to wait until our final review.
Power and battery
The one thing hands-ons can never truly give you is a decent sense of a handset’s day to day performance and battery life.
The Xperia X is running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 650 processor, which is considered a mid-range offering by today’s supercharged standards, along with a healthy 3GB of RAM.
From what we’ve seen, everything runs pretty smoothly, although we saw a couple of hiccups on this very early sample when we tried to open loads of apps at once. It was never anything more than a half a second transition delay, but it was noticeable.
To reiterate though - these observations are not based on final hardware or software, and we’ve had similar experiences with pre-release smartphone units with faster processors than the Snapdragon 820, which then disappeared in the final product.
It goes without saying that we won’t know if Sony’s “up to two day battery usage” claim is accurate until we use the Xperia X as our main handset during our review.
Xperia X initial verdict
It’s hard to provide even a preliminary verdict on the Xperia X without knowing a final retail price.
If Sony manages to keep the price low and make it affordable, then the X’s premium-feeling build and sleek design will be a tempting buy for those looking for a daily driver, minus all the bells and whistles.
The camera is promising, and we look forward to testing it out in the field, along with the impressive-sounding battery life.
Stay tuned for more pricing information, and our full in-depth review.