|+ Stylish||- Only a 720p screen|
|+ Strong front-facing camera||- Weak battery|
|+ Octa-core processor||- Not great value|
"The Sony Xperia XA is affordable, but it’s not great value, with strong first impressions weakened by a short battery life and underwhelming display".
This year rather than rolling out a successor to the Xperia Z5, Sony has launched a new X-range, with the Xperia X Premium the closest thing to a flagship from the company in 2016 and the Xperia XA sitting at the bottom of the range.
But at £240 SIM free it’s still not cheap. That’s a lower mid-range price and competition is steep. So can this phone compete? With a slim, stylish design it certainly makes a good first impression, read on to find out whether that impression lasts.
The Sony Xperia XA is a good looking phone, especially when you consider its middling price tag. It’s fairly thin at 7.9mm thick, has a metal frame and almost no bezel at the left and right edges of the screen.
All this leaves it looking and feeling premium and even the plastic back does little to detract from that. You could argue that it’s still too similar to other Sony phones, with a harshly rectangular shape and a circular home button on the right edge, but it’s a design that’s at almost its best here.
A larger criticism for the X range as a whole is the lack of water resistance offered, given that the Xperia Z range did offer it, but it’s not fair to expect that from a £240 phone.
Sadly, that initial positive impression of the Sony Xperia XA is dampened slightly once you fire up the screen, as it’s a 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 panel with a pixel density of 294 pixels per inch. A year or two ago that might have been ok at this price, but with the likes of the Moto G4 offering a bigger, sharper screen for substantially less money it just doesn’t cut it any more.
That’s not to say it’s bad. Viewed in a vacuum the display on the Sony Xperia XA is more than adequate. We love the bezel-less design and the colours seem more natural than on many lower price displays, but the lack of sharpness will be noticeable when placed side by side with a 1080p phone.
Performance from the Sony Xperia XA is good but not great. The 2.0GHz octa-core processor sounds strong on paper, but it’s a mid-range MediaTek chip, which suffers compared to Snapdragon ones and it’s backed up by a distinctly average 2GB of RAM.
It gets the job done and you’ll generally find performance is solid, whether using apps or playing games, but it can take a beat to launch things and there will be the odd stutter. It’s in line with what we’d expect at this price, just don’t let the big numbers fool you into thinking you’re getting something beastly.
The camera too is a bit of a mixed bag, but generally positive. Round the back you get a 13MP snapper, with a hybrid autofocus for fast focusing and in daylight it works well. It will focus fast and you can just point and shoot, getting solid shots in the process.
But the whole thing struggles a lot more in low-light, so if you’re a night owl you might want to look elsewhere.
The front-facing camera has an 8MP lens which is a high spec, especially for a relatively affordable phone and it allows for some sharp shots, though sadly this too suffers in low-light, especially as there’s no flash on the front.
Sony has stayed pretty close to stock Android Marshmallow, which is a good thing, giving the phone a clean, minimalist feel. But where it has veered from that it’s mostly for the worse, especially in its decision to overload the handset with a bunch of its own apps, many of which you’ll likely never use.
Still, it’s far from the worst phone or manufacturer for this and on the whole navigating the handset is a pleasant experience.
Features wise there’s little to talk about. There’s no fingerprint scanner here, not water or dust proofing and no 4K video, but that’s a compromise we’d expect at this price.
The Sony Xperia XA has a 2300 mAh battery, which is a little on the small size and that shows up in its performance. This is a phone which you’ll be charging daily, but worse than that if you use if heavily it probably won’t even make it to the end of the day. It does support fast charging, which not all handsets at this price do, but we’d rather have to charge less often than be able to charge quickly.
Memory comes in at just 16GB, with no larger versions available, however there’s a microSD card slot, so you can bulk that up substantially.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC, the last of which is worth noting as it’s another thing you don’t always see on cheaper phones.
The Sony Xperia XA impresses in a number of ways, with a high-end design, an edge-to-edge screen, fast charging, NFC and an octa-core processor.
But it doesn’t get all the basics right. Sure it has fast charging, but when the battery barely lasts a day that’s vital and yes the screen looks good, but it’s not overly sharp. Similarly, the octa-core processor sounds impressive but it’s a mid-range chip.
But ultimately the biggest problem with the Sony Xperia XA is that it’s just too expensive. £240 isn’t a huge amount for a smartphone, but you can pick up a Moto G4 from £169 and that’s a better phone in many ways, or spend a little but more on a OnePlus 3 and get a true flagship.
The Sony Xperia XA is competent in most areas and great in a few, but it’s overpriced and undercooked.
Dimensions (mm): 143.6 x 66.8 x 7.9
Weight (g): 137.4
Battery capacity (mAh): 2300
Colours: White, Graphite Black, Lime Gold, Rose Gold
Screen size (inches): 5.0
Resolution: 720 x 1280 pixels
Pixels per inch (PPI): 294
Processor: 2.0GHz octa-core
Processor make: Helio P10
Internal storage: 16GB
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