Home / Reviews / Smartphones / Sony Xperia XA review

Sony Xperia XA review

Sony’s phoning it in with this new mid-range Xperia

You’ve got to be bonkers to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. So reckoned Einstein, and he was a smart chap, which is probably why Sony has taken his advice.

Fed up of not doing so well in the flagship fracas, it has withdrawn and diverted all attention on the midrange instead. That’s why there’s no guns-blazing Xperia Z smartphone this year – just the Xperia X series.

In the UK, that series is made up of two phones: the Xperia X and the Xperia XA. The X is a fancypants midranger – a fingerprint sensor and £460 price tag are dead giveaways that it still harbours hopes of sneaking back onto the yacht to hang with the cool kids.

The XA is under no such delusions. For £240, you get something that’s rarely extravagant, but mostly good enough to do the job. We’re fans of shiny superphones, but we also love a good bargain, so we’re not opposed to seeing the odd cost-cutting exercise. But Sony has a serious problem on its hands: Lenovo and its new Moto G4 phones, which offer bafflingly good value for money.

Does the Xperia X have what it takes to rule this corner of the playground?

DECENT P-P-PERFORMANCE

DECENT P-P-PERFORMANCE

The Mediatek Helio P10 processor and 2GB RAM under the hood are… fine. The XA is fairly snappy most of the time, but sooner rather than later you’ll run into a stutter, or an app that takes its time to load.

The 2300mAh battery isn’t amazing either: Sony reckons it’ll last for two days, but that’s hilariously optimistic. A single charge lasted us from breakfast to bedtime on moderate use, while a more intensive loop of a 720p movie lasted about six hours.

Speaking of movies: there’s no 4K here, but we’re OK with that, because that’s just silly on a smartphone. The XA’s 5in IPS LCD panel instead opts for a 1280×720 resolution. It’s a decent screen, though. It may not be as big or as sharp as the Moto G4’s 5.5in 1080p offering, but it’s clear and crisp and you won’t be able to make out single pixels without a magnifying glass.

Contrast is strong and colours are lush (especially with the Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 enhancement turned on), and those who like to tinker have free reign over white balance. If you spend a lot of time in the bright outdoors, or if you just prefer to take your colours with retina-searing exaggeration, there’s also the Super-vivid mode.

1+3=OnePlus 3 review

DECENT P-P-PERFORMANCE

DECENT P-P-PERFORMANCE

The Mediatek Helio P10 processor and 2GB RAM under the hood are… fine. The XA is fairly snappy most of the time, but sooner rather than later you’ll run into a stutter, or an app that takes its time to load.

The 2300mAh battery isn’t amazing either: Sony reckons it’ll last for two days, but that’s hilariously optimistic. A single charge lasted us from breakfast to bedtime on moderate use, while a more intensive loop of a 720p movie lasted about six hours.

Speaking of movies: there’s no 4K here, but we’re OK with that, because that’s just silly on a smartphone. The XA’s 5in IPS LCD panel instead opts for a 1280×720 resolution. It’s a decent screen, though. It may not be as big or as sharp as the Moto G4’s 5.5in 1080p offering, but it’s clear and crisp and you won’t be able to make out single pixels without a magnifying glass.

Contrast is strong and colours are lush (especially with the Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 enhancement turned on), and those who like to tinker have free reign over white balance. If you spend a lot of time in the bright outdoors, or if you just prefer to take your colours with retina-searing exaggeration, there’s also the Super-vivid mode.

1+3=OnePlus 3 review

DECENT P-P-PERFORMANCE

DECENT P-P-PERFORMANCE

The Mediatek Helio P10 processor and 2GB RAM under the hood are… fine. The XA is fairly snappy most of the time, but sooner rather than later you’ll run into a stutter, or an app that takes its time to load.

The 2300mAh battery isn’t amazing either: Sony reckons it’ll last for two days, but that’s hilariously optimistic. A single charge lasted us from breakfast to bedtime on moderate use, while a more intensive loop of a 720p movie lasted about six hours.

Speaking of movies: there’s no 4K here, but we’re OK with that, because that’s just silly on a smartphone. The XA’s 5in IPS LCD panel instead opts for a 1280×720 resolution. It’s a decent screen, though. It may not be as big or as sharp as the Moto G4’s 5.5in 1080p offering, but it’s clear and crisp and you won’t be able to make out single pixels without a magnifying glass.

Contrast is strong and colours are lush (especially with the Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 enhancement turned on), and those who like to tinker have free reign over white balance. If you spend a lot of time in the bright outdoors, or if you just prefer to take your colours with retina-searing exaggeration, there’s also the Super-vivid mode.

1+3=OnePlus 3 review

SNAP JUDGEMENT

Then there’s the camera, which has not avoided the cutbacks seen elsewhere on the XA.

It drops the 23-megapixel camera found on the Xperia X to a 13 megapixels sensor, which honestly isn’t that big a deal unless you intend to blow up and print your snaps. The software is intuitive, the autofocus is fast, and generally taking snaps is a breeze.

The results are mixed, though. In bright conditions, you get some pretty impressive shots: realistic colours, strong contrast and good definition. The processing is a bit too eager, though, and finer detail look a bit artificial.

Take it into dim conditions and the XA begins to struggle. There’s no optical image stabilisation, so your club shots need to be rock steady. Overall, this is a fine snapper for a mid-range blower – it’s just nothing special.

HELLO MOTOMotorola G4 review

Sony Xperia XA Verdict

Sony Xperia XA Verdict

The Xperia XA feels like a compromised product. It doesn’t have the best and latest features, but if you want a good looking phone that does the job, this answers your call.

However, besides its good looks, this phone doesn’t excel at anything in particular, and its specifications are a bit lacking considering what Lenovo’s Moto G4 and G4 Plus offer at similar money or less.

If you’ve got a chunk of change sat in your wallet, you could also step up to a vastly superior OnePlus 3 – leaving the Xperia XA a little left out.

Tech specs

SCREEN 5in, 1280×720 LCD
CPU Mediatek Helio P10
MEMORY 2GB RAM
CAMERA 13MP rear, 8MP front
STORAGE 16GB onboard, microSD expansion
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow
DIMENSIONS 143x67x7.9mm
WEIGHT 137g

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

Good looks alone aren’t enough to make this the new champion of the cheap Android phones

Good Stuff

Looks a million bucks, and feels premium too

Plays nice with microSD cards

Decent screen for your cash

Bad Stuff

Moto G4 offers more for less

Underpowered performance

Battery life woes