Sony Xpe­ria XA

£269 inc VAT sony.co.uk

Android Advisor - - Contents -

For the past few years, Sony has up­dated its Xpe­ria Z range al­most ev­ery six months, an act that not only frus­trates fans locked into two-year con­tracts, who see sev­eral new hand­sets hit the mar­ket, but also makes us won­der if the firm is clutch­ing at straws. The Xpe­ria Z5 was an ex­cel­lent phone, but now the flag­ship model ap­pears to be the Xpe­ria X – that’s not this phone

though. Re­leased at the same time at the X is this, the Xpe­ria XA. It’s cheaper and bet­ter look­ing, but has fewer fea­tures and lower specs.

De­sign

The Sony Xpe­ria XA ex­cels in the de­sign de­part­ment. This is a slim, solid smart­phone that will tick all the right looks boxes if you like smaller hand­sets; it has a 5in screen. The killer touch with the screen is that it is edge-to-edge, which en­sures the hand­set doesn’t feel too big in the hand. We could al­most say you can use this one-handed, but it’s some­times hard to text with just your thumb.

The build qual­ity is pretty good, though there’s no metal like on the flag­ship Xpe­ria X – in­stead the XA is coated in solid plas­tic, but the back picks up fin­ger­prints eas­ily. Our re­view unit was the black model, which is re­ally more of a grey. It’s also avail­able in white, rose gold and gold. Won­der where they got that idea?

Over­all this is a lush look­ing phone, and see­ing as the edge-to-edge dis­play isn’t on the more ex­pen­sive Xpe­ria X it’s a great dif­fer­en­tia­tor if you want to spend less but get a pre­mium look. The edges are aren’t rounded or ob­vi­ous as on the Sam­sung Galaxy S7 edge, and they also pro­vide

no ad­di­tional func­tion­al­ity like that phone does. Here, it’s purely for the looks.

The XA comes in at a slen­der 143.6x66.8x7.9mm, mak­ing it no fuss for any rea­son­ably sized pocket at 137g. It’s se­ri­ously com­pact, and this is a smart move by Sony, as the price range it sits in is still a tricky one. At over £200, the XA won’t get much pay as you go at­ten­tion, but once you start to con­sider con­tracts, most peo­ple won’t mind pay­ing a ten­ner more a month for a su­pe­rior al­ter­na­tive hand­set.

There’s a cir­cu­lar power but­ton on the right edge, but no finger­print scan­ner. Just be­low that is the vol­ume rocker, with the ded­i­cated cam­era but­ton fur­ther down. There’s a cam­era front (13Mp with LED flash) and back (8Mp) and a thick bezel at the top and bot­tom of the phone.

The thing is an ab­so­lute finger­print mag­net though, with no anti-mark coat­ing on the front screen as far as we can tell. The SIM and mi­croSD slot (ex­pand­able up to 200GB) tray is on the left side, but be warned that if you take the SIM out, the phone will restart which is a bit un­usual for a mod­ern smart­phone.

Per­for­mance

The spec­i­fi­ca­tions are where the Xpe­ria XA, on pa­per at least, falls down com­pared to the kings of the An­droid world. The screen, an IPS LCD panel ca­pa­ble of 16M colours, is no­tice­ably in­fe­rior to not only the Xpe­ria X but many other mod­ern smart­phones, par­tic­u­larly if you’ve ever used an iPhone with a Retina dis­play – a high def­i­ni­tion stan­dard since 2010’s iPhone 4. Text dis­plays on

the XA a tiny bit pixel­lated and the screen is dark when watch­ing videos even with the bright­ness jacked right up.

The pro­ces­sor on board is a mid-range Me­di­atek MT6755 He­lio P10 along­side a just-fine 2GB RAM. This mem­ory lim­i­ta­tion is only no­tice­able if you

re­ally make the XA sweat; more than 10 apps open and you get the lag you would ex­pect for a sub-£300 phone. There’s also NFC but no fin­ger print scan­ner, so the quick con­ve­nience of pay­ment apps is taken away.

Sony phones of late have been praised for be­ing wa­ter­proof, but again this is a fea­ture the XA loses. We’d have as­sumed this would be a way to keep the price down, but the flag­ship Xpe­ria X isn’t wa­ter­proof ei­ther. Sorry about all the Xs, we know it gets con­fus­ing.

More ap­par­ent when we set up the XA, us­ing Sony’s ad­mit­tedly ex­cel­lent Xpe­ria Trans­fer Mo­bile app, was the 16GB on board stor­age. You re­ally will need to buy a mi­croSD card to ex­pand the stor­age if you want more than a few apps and media on your phone.

Data ex­change and charg­ing hap­pens via Mi­cro-USB, and with the bun­dled charger you can take ad­van­tage of fast charg­ing, which is ex­cel­lent for the price point. Sony claims five and a half hours of bat­tery from a 10-minute charge, and in our use it was good for this claim.

Bench­marks, as ex­pected, are be­low that of the Xpe­ria X, but good to see the XA not far be­hind. Ad­di­tion­ally, it out­per­formed the sim­i­larly priced, mid-range Sam­sung Galaxy A3 by a dis­tance.

Cam­era

As you may have guessed, the cam­era on the Xpe­ria XA is pass­able, but noth­ing spe­cial. It’s not a phone you’d want to rely on for wed­ding snaps, whereas higher-end phones can pro­duce good enough images for you to leave your DSLR at

home. Sony’s mar­ket­ing for the XA is ag­gres­sive and also vague. It’s a com­pany that loves to make up fea­tures that don’t re­ally mean any­thing. A case in point is the cam­era hav­ing ‘Hy­brid Aut­o­fo­cus’ that sup­pos­edly locks on to mov­ing ob­jects to keep the pic­ture sharp. You can tap any­where on the screen to lock onto a tar­get, which is clever, but when we moved the phone while tak­ing a pic­ture it came out blurry ev­ery time. This is usual for a smart­phone cam­era and it’s frus­trat­ing to see Sony pro­duce a de­cent mid-range phone like the XA, but then lean on mar­ket­ing which is ba­si­cally a lie. It’s a shame, be­cause we still like this phone.

Soft­ware

The XA ships with Marsh­mal­low 6.0 and con­tin­ues Sony’s trend of us­ing close to stock An­droid. The app tray is still slightly dif­fer­ent but if you’ve used

any An­droid phone be­fore this is fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory. As with other Xpe­ria phones, there’s a lit­tle bloat­ware when you set up, such as Sony’s TrackID wid­gets for mu­sic play­back and the PlayS­ta­tion app. Keep them if you like, but if you re­move them from your home screen or unin­stall, the brand­ing isn’t that in­tru­sive. The 2GB RAM com­fort­ably deals with the OS, but the hand­set gets a lit­tle slug­gish when you’re us­ing tons of apps at once.

Ver­dict

We liked our time with the XA, and rec­om­mend it if you want a sleek, smart, mid-range phone that does every­thing ac­cept­ably well. Henry Bur­rell

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

5in (1280x720, 294ppi) IPS touch­screen An­droid Marsh­mal­low 6.0 2GHz Me­di­atek MT6755 He­lio P10 Mali-T860MP2 graph­ics 2GB RAM 6GB stor­age Mi­croSD ex­pand­able up to 200GB 13Mp main cam­era, LED flash 8Mp front cam­era Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n Blue­tooth 4.1 4G LTE Nano-SIM GPS NFC 2300mAh non-re­mov­able bat­tery 143.6x66.8x7.9mm 137.4g

GFXBench T-Rex

GFXBench Man­hat­tan

AnTuTu

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