Sony’s well-priced selfie snap­ping mid-ranger

Sunday Tribune - - SUNDAY MAGAZINE -

AMID the slew of fancy flag­ship smart­phones that have made their de­but in re­cent weeks, some de­serv­ing but un­der-hyped de­vices have slipped on to the lo­cal mar­ket largely un­der the radar. One of them is the Sony’s Xpe­ria XA2 Ul­tra, a mid-range phone with selfie-snap­ping su­per­pow­ers to ri­val hand­sets twice its price.

I got the chance to spend a cou­ple of weeks with this phone re­cently and re­turned it to the man­u­fac­turer a lot more im­pressed than I ex­pected to be.

Handy hand­ful

Make no mis­take, this Sony’s a hand­ful, but then you’d ex­pect that given the word “Ul­tra” in its name.

The 6-inch full HD 1080p screen, while not up to the retina-sear­ing stan­dards of ul­tra-hd dis­plays from the likes of Sam­sung, is plenty clear and bright enough for play­ing games and watch­ing videos.

The prom­i­nent fore­head and chin give it a de­cid­edly dated look in this era of shrunken bezels, but I found them rather handy for hold­ing the de­vice while us­ing it in land­scape mode with­out ob­scur­ing the screen with your fin­gers and thumb.

Stay­ing power

A big, bright screen can drain a phone’s bat­tery faster than a credit card bal­ance on Black Fri­day, but I was pleas­antly sur­prised with the XA2 Ul­tra’s stay­ing power. It eas­ily lasted a full day and well into the night un­der pretty hard use, thanks to the 3580mah bat­tery. While there’s no wire­less charg­ing, the phone sup­ports fast charg­ing, but you’ll need to buy the quick charger sep­a­rately, which is a bit of a dis­ap­point­ment. Mid­dling specs

The Snap­dragon 630 pro­ces­sor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of on­board stor­age hardly scream specs ap­peal, but they’re what you’d ex­pect in a mid-range phone.

The XA2 Ul­tra comes with the most re­cent com­monly avail­able ver­sion of Google’s An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem, 8.0 Oreo. Sony was a pi­o­neer in bring­ing wa­ter re­sis­tance to smart­phones, so it’s a pity this fea­ture is miss­ing from this Xpe­ria.

On the plus side, they’ve re­tained the head­phone jack and ded­i­cated cam­era shut­ter but­ton. Speak­ing of the cam­era…

Sen­sa­tional self­ies

Sony’s po­si­tion­ing the XA2 Ul­tra as a selfie su­per­star and I’m happy to re­port that’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

It’s built two sen­sors into the Ul­tra’s front-fac­ing cam­era.

The first is a con­ven­tional 16-megapixel sen­sor with an

LED flash and op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion to smooth out cam­era shake.

The sec­ond 8-megapixel sen­sor of­fers a wide-an­gle, 120-de­gree field of view, per­fect for group self­ies – I refuse to say “groufie”.the 23MP rear snap­per is no slouch ei­ther and pro­duced nicely de­tailed, richly coloured im­ages in good light­ing con­di­tions.

Low-light snaps weren’t as im­pres­sive, alas, but bet­ter than most phone-mounted cam­eras at this price point. Ver­dict

When the Sony Xpe­ria XA2 first landed in South African stores a cou­ple of months back it came with a price tag of R8000 – a bit steep, I re­mem­ber think­ing at the time.

Hap­pily, that’s since dropped to around R6200 which makes it an al­to­gether more at­trac­tive prospect for any­one look­ing for a good value, mid-range smart­phone.

And if self­ies float your so­cial me­dia boat, you’ll bat­tle to find a bet­ter phone at any price.

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