Sony Xperia X Performance Review
Sony has bid goodbye to its flagship Xperia Z series in favor of their new line of Xperia X smartphones. Sitting on the top of the series is the Xperia X Performance that sports the best mobile processor available, high-resolution cameras, and a new design language with the use of an all-aluminum body, but it does have its shortcomings. As promised, here’s our full review of the Sony Xperia X Performance.
Design and Construction
The device has a 5-inch display topped with a beveled scratch-resistant glass. It is accompanied by a 13-megapixel camera for selfies, a couple of sensors and the earpiece slash stereo speaker setup.
On its right side is the elongated power button which doubles as a fingerprint scanner, a weirdly positioned volume rocker, and a physical camera shutter key. It’s good to see that Sony’s not yet ditching the shutter key.
On the left side, we just have the card tray for two micro SIM cards and microSD card. It’s a hybrid system wherein the slot 2 can be used with either a microSD or a micro SIM. The tray is easy to access and there’s no need for an ejector pin (two thumbs up for that!).
The top side houses the 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise-cancelling microphone for clearer calls, while the bottom end of the phone has the micro-USB port for charging and connectivity, and the main microphone.
From the sandwiched glass design in the Xperia Z lineup, Sony has shifted its attention to material choices and we now have a brushed aluminum back panel that’s occupied by the main 23-megapixel shooter with an LED flash at the top-left corner.
Despite the change in family name, the design of the X Performance remains loyal to its predecessors with its rectangular brick body with slightly curved corners for gripping. Indeed, aluminum is a better option over glass that’s prone to damage especially when dropped. It also gives the phone a more mature aesthetic look. Fortunately, the body is IP68-certified for dust and waterproofing unlike the X and XA.
Display and Multimedia
The X Performance sports a 5-inch Full HD display complete with Sony’s tech like Triluminos Display and X-reality engine. While the resolution is not as high compared to other 2016 flagships with QHD displays, the picture quality is top notch. Colors are pleasing and well saturated although black levels are not that deep as we wanted, perhaps AMOLED panels have spoiled our eyes. Viewing angles are wide as well.
As for the loudspeaker, it’s got a front-facing stereo setup which is perfect for multimedia consumption. Having two channels of audio is pretty sweet but maxing out the volume causes the back plate of the phone to vibrate. The volume is not even that loud, so keep this issue in mind. Quality-wise, it’s a good pair of speakers but could be better.
OS, Apps, UI
There’s Android 6.0 Marshmallow on-board and the customization done to the UI is distinctively Sony yet it’s not far from Vanilla. This is one of the maker’s strengths in mobile. With this, you get the best of offerings from both Google and Sony. Most of the changes are icons and modest tweaks in the layout. The OS occupies 15.12GB of the 64GB internal storage.
A suite of Sony apps and a few third-party ones are pre-loaded including AVG Protection, Facebook, Spotify, and SwiftKey. We won’t consider these as bloatware but you can’t uninstall them if you please, the only option is to disable.
An update to Android 7.0 Nougat should be available when Sony managed to get their hands on it but the 6.0 update is already a capable version topped with Sony goodness.
Being a Sony phone, the camera department is no slouch. There’s a main 23MP shooter with predictive hybrid autofocus that tracks a moving subject. The Superior Auto is the default when launching the camera although there’s a manual mode with little options to play with, and a slew of in-camera tricks like the AR feature.
Captured stills are detailed thanks to the high megapixel count. In good lighting, colors are accurate with tiny amount of noise, although exposure is on the aggressive side. The front camera with its 13MP sensor is definitely one of the best around but perhaps a screen flash will help it in low-light selfies. Check out the samples below:
As for the video, it’s disappointing not see a 4K UHD option for a flagship even when Sony is in the business of selling 4K TVs. Instead, there’s a 60fps option for 1080p. Like with the stills, the videos are detailed with pleasing colors plus decent stereo audio. Electronic stabilization works fine in keeping things steady. You may check out the sample below.
Performance and Benchmarks
In the realm of 2016 flagships, a Snapdragon 820 is a must and this has it but Sony failed in providing the phone bigger memory with its 3GB RAM. What’s so hard about giving it at least 4GB for its asking price? Anyhow, backing up the graphics department is an Adreno 530.
As expected, the chipset was able to provide that smoothest possible performance. Big gaming titles including Asphalt 8, Modern Combat 5, and Unkilled are not a problem. Pokemon Go runs perfectly too if there’s just a Pokémon around to catch. There are no issues with everyday apps and multitasking, but the 3GB of RAM is not exactly built for keeping intensive programs open for long.
We ran our standard benchmark tests and here are the results:
AnTuTu Benchmark v – 116748
Quadrant Standard – 41032
PCMark – 6462 (Work), 2720 (Storage)
Vellamo – 4959 (Chrome), 3212 (Multicore), 3512 (Metal)
3DMark – 2332 (Slingshot ES 3.1), 2743 (Slingshot ES 3.0)
Call Quality and Connectivity
The device has an LTE Cat9 radio ensuring you can get fast wireless speeds anywhere in the world. While the Philippines is yet to fully adapt LTE-A, the X Performance is a future-proofed device. Apart from its advanced 4G radio, it’s got an almost full suite of connectivity option with a dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS, and even NFC. An IR blaster would have been great to control some traditional appliances at home. But if you own a connected Sony BRAVIA TV, this shouldn’t be a problem thanks to a proprietary app that uses Wi-Fi instead.
Calling is a treat with this handset as the earpiece produces loud and clear voices, given that the other party has a decent microphone. As for our microphone, you get rich recording either in calls or voice memos.
Providing juice is a non-removable 2700mAh Li-ion battery. The capacity is on the low-side but there’s support for Quick Charge 2.0 using the included travel charger. With our test, a 15-minute charge will get you 19% of charge while a full hour of charging will fill up 50% of the cell.
For its longevity, it was able to last for 7 hours and 18 minutes using PCMark battery test. With our traditional video loop test with the phone set to Airplane mode and at 50% brightness and volume through earphones, it was able to last for 7 hours and 41 minutes. The numbers are disappointing, to be honest, but with casual use, it can go for about a day and a half before looking for a charger.
All things considered, it seems that the Sony Xperia X Performance is a hit and miss. While it’s is indeed at the top of the product line of Sony for 2016, we felt they somewhat skimped on the hardware considering the asking price. Frankly, we were actually hoping for at least 4GB of RAM and the 4K resolution just like the Z5 Premium.
It’s like paying full price for a heavy full course meal and skipped the dessert altogether. Talk about feeling short-changed.
We could not really say that the Xperia X Performance is a full-on upgrade to the Z5 series. Rather, it’s more of like an alternative option for the series.
While this particular model is not officially released yet in the country, the Php29,990 price tag from Widget City (see listing here) is already something to ponder. But hey, this is Sony and it’s a very handsome device that will cost you some hefty cash.
Sony Xperia X Performance specs:
5-inch Full HD Triluminos display @ 1920 x 1080 pixels, 441ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core CPU
Adreno 530 GPU
64GB internal storage
Expandable via microSD, up to 200GB
23MP predictive hybrid autofocus f/2.0 rear camera w/ LED flash
13MP f/2.0 front-facing camera
4G LTE Cat9
GPS w/ A-GPS, GLONASS
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
What we liked about it:
- Beautiful design
- Front-facing stereo speakers
- Amazing performance
- Good camera
What we didn’t like:
- Short battery life
- Only 3GB of RAM
- Surprising vibration during playback