Sony Xpe­ria XA1

£229 inc VAT from

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

Sony’s Xpe­ria XA1 of­fers 23Mp stills (as well as fa­cial recog­ni­tion and a bunch of nice pho­to­graphic fea­tures) for £229. We test out the cam­era and fea­ture set, as well as putting the phone through our rig­or­ous bat­tery of pro­ces­sor and graph­ics tests, to help you work out if this is the de­vice for you.


The XA1 has an ap­peal­ingly neat, sim­ple look. Viewed front-on it’s a blocky de­sign, with com­par­a­tively square cor­ners, but this is off­set by a very slight cur­va­ture on the left and right-hand edges of the screen.

There’s a re­fresh­ing lack of gumpf on the back, too: just a sin­gle cam­era lens and ac­com­pa­ny­ing flash top left (th­ese are ar­ranged ver­ti­cally, which seems to be the vogue this year) and a cou­ple of dis­creet lo­gos. Ev­ery­thing is flush with the chas­sis and it lies flat quite hap­pily.

Part of the min­i­mal­ism is made pos­si­ble by the fact that the Xpe­ria doesn’t have a fin­ger­print scan­ner, ei­ther in a home but­ton on the front (there is no such but­ton – the front but­tons are all soft­ware-based) or in a mod­ule on the rear. But there are lots of other ways to un­lock your de­vice which we’ll dis­cuss in the fea­tures sec­tion later on.

The hard­ware but­tons have all been put on one side: the right-hand edge, which houses the vol­ume rocker, ded­i­cated cam­era shut­ter and power but­ton (which sticks out a lot and is a dif­fer­ent colour, and is thus both slightly ugly and nicely easy to find even with­out look­ing.) We’re not to­tally sold on hav­ing a ded­i­cated cam­era but­ton, par­tic­u­larly since it re­quires more force to press than the on-screen but­ton and there­fore causes very slightly more cam­era wob­ble, but we know that some peo­ple like this fea­ture.

When held in the left hand the vol­ume and power but­tons are easy to ac­cess with in­dex and mid­dle fingers, but if you hold it in the right then the power but­ton feels a shade too low for the thumb to hit it com­fort­ably: one al­most won­ders if it would be worth Sony mak­ing two models de­pend­ing on users’ dom­i­nant hand. How­ever, we did find that hav­ing the but­tons con­cen­trated on one edge had the ben­e­fit – when com­pared to a sym­met­ri­cal lay­out like the iPhone

7 Plus – of never ac­ci­den­tally hit­ting a but­ton on the op­po­site side at the same time.

The XA1 has a 5in screen, a de­cent com­pro­mise point that of­fers plenty of real es­tate for video view­ing and gam­ing with­out bulk­ing out the body. (The side bezels are al­most non-ex­is­tent but there are quite large bezels at top and bot­tom.) The res­o­lu­tion is rel­a­tively un­der­whelm­ing, how­ever, at 720p and a pixel den­sity of 293.7ppi.

For a com­par­i­son that even Ap­ple fans will un­der­stand, that 5in screen sits neatly between the 7 (4.7in) and 7 Plus (5.5in) of­fer­ings while nestling into a chas­sis that is far closer in terms of length, width and weight to the for­mer. (It’s thicker than both iPhones, how­ever.)

The XA1 has a head­phone port, and is com­pat­i­ble with both mi­croSD re­mov­able stor­age and USB-C ca­bles and ac­ces­sories.

Wa­ter- and dust-re­sis­tance

Take care­ful note that the XA1 is not IP-rated and there­fore can­not be re­lied upon to of­fer any de­gree of wa­ter-re­sis­tance. Sony is known for of­fer­ing strong IP rat­ings on its flag­ship phones, but this is sim­ply too much of a bud­get op­tion to get that treat­ment. As a Sony sup­port em­ployee puts it, “I would ad­vise keep­ing it away from any ex­po­sure to wa­ter.”

Colour op­tions

The XA1 comes in four colour fin­ishes: matt black, white, gold and pink. Do note that the lat­ter is far warmer and less gar­ish than the colour picker on the Sony web­site would sug­gest.


The rear-fac­ing cam­era is rated at a hefty 23Mp (note that if you want the full whack you have to shoot in squar­ish 4:3; the more widescreen 16:9 as­pect ra­tio is capped at 20Mp), and pro­duced huge, well-de­tailed pho­tos in our tests. In­deed, the images files it pro­duced are so large that our site has trou­ble han­dling them.

Our stan­dard test shot of St Pan­cras was promis­ing at first glance, with good de­tail­ing on the brick­work and solid colour and light­ing given the dif­fi­culty of the weather con­di­tions. And under a hard zoom the Mid­land Road sign was eas­ier to read than we’d gen­er­ally ex­pect.

Credit: Sony

Di­men­sions: 145x67x8mm; 143g Credit: Sony

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