Sony Xperia X and XA
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.
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.
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.
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
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