Sony Xpe­ria X and XA

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In an un­usual move that sur­prised us all, Sony de­cided not to launch the new Sony Xpe­ria Z5 tablet we were ex­pect­ing at MWC 2016, but in­stead added a brand-new smart­phone range to the mix. The new Xpe­ria X se­ries of­fers spec­i­fi­ca­tions

that sit just below the flag­ship Z range, plus some in­ter­est­ing new fea­tures for the cam­era and screen.

Price and re­lease date

So far, Sony has been mys­te­ri­ous about the re­lease date and price of the new range of smart­phones. All we know right now is that they’re set to ar­rive at some point in the sum­mer, and we ex­pect them to be close to but slightly lower than the price range of the flag­ship Z se­ries, which starts at around £479 for the flag­ship Xpe­ria Z5 or £379 for the smaller Z5 Compact. Many car­ri­ers and net­works have al­ready said that they’ll be stock­ing the X se­ries, too. Voda­fone, Three and O2 are among them.

De­sign

The Xpe­ria X and XA are roughly the same size, with 5in screens sur­rounded by dinky bezels. In fact, the XA’s bezels are so tiny that the screen is de­scribed as edge-to-edge, and we’d say that’s pretty ac­cu­rate. It’s re­ally quite gor­geous, but the down­side is that the specs seem to suf­fer for it. The X doesn’t have the edge-to-edge screen and there­fore not quite the same im­pact at first glance but it houses bet­ter tech as we ex­plain in more de­tail below.

Both are 7.9mm thick and feel great to hold, with slightly curved glass that blends in to the curved edges of both smart­phones, tak­ing a slight de­par­ture from the block na­ture of Sony’s pre­vi­ous Xpe­ria phones. The XA is slightly lighter at 137g vs the X’s 153g, and we def­i­nitely pre­ferred the over­all look and feel of the XA.

Colour op­tions in­clude an unattrac­tive Lime Gold, a rea­son­ably nice Rose Gold and re­ally good-look­ing

White and Graphite Black mod­els, all of which have a slight shim­mer to them. They also come with op­tional match­ing cases and cov­ers.

Hard­ware

The X se­ries has two main stand­out fea­tures: Cam­era and bat­tery life. Aside from that the specs are pretty stan­dard.

You’ll find that the Xpe­ria X’s 5in dis­play is Full 1080p HD and is crisp, clear and colour­ful while the edge-to-edge dis­play on the XA gets a 720p res­o­lu­tion so is just a lit­tle fuzzy around the edges, which seems like a real shame to us. With a screen that makes such a big im­pact at first glance we’d hoped to see at least 1080p HD res­o­lu­tion.

When it comes to cam­eras, the XA misses out too. It of­fers a 13Mp cam­era on the rear and an 8Mp cam­era on the front, which sounds pretty great un­til you find out that the X boasts an even bet­ter 23Mp rear cam­era and a 13Mp front-fac­ing cam­era. Plus, that rear cam­era has a new Pre­dic­tive Hy­brid Aut­o­fo­cus fea­ture, which sounds im­pres­sive but we found doesn’t al­ways work too well.

In essence, the Pre­dic­tive Hy­brid Aut­o­fo­cus fea­ture lets you open the cam­era app, tap a mov­ing ob­ject that you want to take a photo of and wait un­til you want to snap the pic­ture. It’s sup­posed to be able to pre­dict where the ob­ject is go­ing to go and make sure it is the point of fo­cus when you press the shut­ter but­ton, but we tried it with the setup Sony pro­vided on the stand with balls that moved around a wooden maze, and each time the fo­cus seemed quite off to us. Plus, the de­sign of the phone and the po­si­tion­ing of the but­ton that

switches to the front-fac­ing cam­era meant we kept tap­ping, and we wit­nessed oth­ers suf­fer­ing from the same sur­prise when their face un­ex­pect­edly ap­peared on screen.

You’ll also find quick launch, auto-fo­cus and HDR for both phone’s cam­eras, but the X adds an ISO of 12800 for low light pho­tog­ra­phy, 1080p video record­ing, video sta­bil­i­sa­tion and more.

Pro­ces­sors are mid-range, with the X sport­ing a Qual­comm Snap­dragon 650 chip paired with 3GB RAM, while the XA sports the Me­di­aTek MT6755 and 2GB RAM so is likely to be a bit slower when we put both head-to-head.

The XA has 16GB of built-in stor­age while the X has 32GB, and both ac­cept up to 200GB mi­croSD cards for ex­panded stor­age (we highly doubt you’ll need more than that). The XA has sup­port for two SIM cards but the X only has space for one. In terms of soft­ware, both phones run An­droid 6.0 An­droid.

Ver­dict

We can’t of­fer a fi­nal ver­dict un­til we’ve spent more time with th­ese new smart­phones, but our first im­pres­sions are over­all pos­i­tive. We kind of wish that Sony had just stuck with one phone and com­bined their best fea­tures, be­cause we’d have raved about the XA’s screen and de­sign with the X’s specs. De­pend­ing on the price, though, th­ese could be in­ter­est­ing and in­trigu­ing new mid-range phones for peo­ple look­ing for some­thing new and a bit dif­fer­ent. The four dif­fer­ent colour op­tions are likely to at­tract a range of cus­tomers and the 5in screen is the sweet-spot for us, our favourite screen size. Ash­leigh Allsopp

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

Sony Xpe­ria X 5in Full HD curved (1080x1920) An­droid 6.0.1 Marsh­mal­low Qual­comm Snap­dragon 820 pro­ces­sor 3GB RAM 32-/64GB stor­age Mi­croSD card slot (up to 200GB) 23Mp rear cam­era with LED flash 13Mp front cam­era 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 4.2 GPS NFC Fin­ger­print scan­ner Mi­cro-USB 2620mAh re­mov­able bat­tery 142.7x69.4x7.9mm 153g

Sony Xpe­ria XA 5in Full HD curved (1280x720) An­droid 6.0.1 Marsh­mal­low Qual­comm Snap­dragon 820 pro­ces­sor 3GB RAM 32-/64GB stor­age Mi­croSD card slot (up to 200GB) 23Mp rear cam­era with LED flash 13Mp front cam­era 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 4.2 GPS NFC Fin­ger­print scan­ner Mi­cro-USB 2300mAh re­mov­able bat­tery 143.6x66.8x7.9mm 137g

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