Sony Xperia XA Review
We recently published our review of the Xperia X – good phone but with high asking price. This time, we’re back with its toned-down sibling – Sony Xperia XA. Priced at under Php14K, does it have enough to entice budget-conscious consumers? Find out in our review below.
Design and Construction
Right out of the box we can definitely say that the Xperia XA is an attractive smartphone. More attractive than the Xperia X, in our opinion. Although it only has a standard 5-inch display, it has slim bezels which make it look like you’re getting more real estate.
Placed above the display are the light sensor, notification light, 8MP front camera, and the earpiece that is discretely placed at the top edge. All of that are mounted with a scratch-resistant glass.
Looking at the left is a flap that covers the SIM and microSD card trays. While on the right are the dedicated two-stage camera button and the power/lock button reminiscent of the Xperia Z lineup.
Up top, we have the headset jack and microphone, while down at the bottom are the microUSB port, microphone, and loudspeaker.
Flip it on its back and you will see the 13MP camera, LED flash, and NFC.
Like the Xperia X, the Xperia XA doesn’t feature water- or dust-proofing. On the bright side, it feels premium thanks to its metal unibody. On the hand, it’s more comfortable to grip as it has narrower and rounder frame. To be frank, we’d prefer if Sony used the XA’s design for the X.
Display and Multimedia
The XA’s display is a bit of a downgrade compared to the X. Instead of Full HD, Sony settled for HD which equates to 294ppi. Not as sharp as the flagships but will suffice for casual users. Colors and viewing angles are good, however, we noticed some color shifting when viewed from extreme angles – yellowish from the right and top.
If you want to tweak the display’s quality, you can go into Settings and select an image enhancement — Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, and Super-vivid mode — or adjust for white balance.
As for the loudspeaker, it’s underwhelming as it is not as loud as we expect it to be. Sound quality is decent but not as good as the more expensive Xperia X. That said, the Xperia XA is a good device for watching videos but if you want good audio, better stick to your headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software department is Android 6.0 Marshmallow with some tweaks made by Sony. The layout is very much stock but with different icons.
It comes with Xperia wallpapers and themes, as well as pre-installed and uninstallable apps such as AVG Protection, SwiftKey Keyboard, and Amazon Shopping. Sony’s own apps are here as well like Movie Creator, Sketch, TrackID, Xperia Lounge, and PlayStation.
Storage-wise, you’re not getting much at 16GB with almost 10GB left for the user. The good news is you can install a microSD card and save all your media files there instead.
The Xperia XA sports a 13MP main shooter coupled with an 8MP camera on the front. The main camera can produce photos with good colors, details, and contrast. However, we noticed that the Phase-Detect AF is inconsistent and often has difficulty locking on the subject we wanted.
When we tap on a specific subject, it will try to focus, fails, then just try to focus on the whole scene instead. This results in photos with some out-of-focus areas. As for the front camera, it has a wide-angle lens which is good for group selfies. Quality is good but you might want to shoot in bright conditions as it is susceptible to noise. See samples below.
Like the Xperia X, the XA has in-camera features like Manual mode, AR effect, Sound Photo, Face in Picture, Creative effect, Sticker Creator, Sweep Panorama, and Style Portrait. As for video recording, you’re limited to Full HD at 30fps. Quality is good as well with nice dynamic range. Watch sample below.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the device is a MediaTek MT6755 Helio P10 octa-core CPU clocked at 2.9GHz, Mali-T860 MP2 GPU, and 2GB RAM. Performance is great so far and runs the games we throw at it including Asphalt 8. There’s some noticeable warming on the upper rear part but not too much to be annoying.
The only bottleneck we see here is the 2GB RAM and can affect heavy apps if there are tons running in the background. We recommend clearing the memory before playing any graphic intensive games. See the benchmark scores below.
* AnTuTu – 48,166
* Quadrant Standard – 17,734
* Vellamo – 1,946 (Multicore), 1,235 (Metal), 836 (Chrome)
* 3D Mark – 420 (Sling Shot using ES 3.1)
Connectivity and Call Quality
Although it has all the basics covered such as WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and LTE, the Xperia XA lacks something that most competitors offer at this price range which is dual-SIM support.
It’s not a big deal if you’re only using one SIM but those who want to use two phone numbers in a single device need to look somewhere else.
The battery is on the low-end side at 2,300mAh. We can make it last for 8 to 9 hours if we’re just on WiFi browsing websites and social media apps. Better bring a power bank if you’re into gaming and mobile data.
Running PC Mark’s battery bench, it was rated at 6 hours and 19 minutes. Our video loop test (Airplane mode, 1080p video on loop, 50% brightness and volume, headset plugged in), on the other hand, got it at 7 hours and 40 minutes which is below average.
The Xperia XA is Sony’s most affordable offering from the new Xperia X family. It’s got the premium looks and feels and capable specs to along with it. There are limitations though like the lack of dual-SIM, inconsistent AF performance, and a small battery. A buyer might be able to live with those disadvantages especially if it’s priced well under Php10k, unfortunately, it’s not.
It has an SRP of Php13,990 which puts it in an ugly situation considering its competitors offer more for the same, if not, lower price – the Xiaomi Mi Max, Cherry Mobile M1, OPPO F1 and Vivo V3. To conclude, the Xperia XA suffers the same fate as the Xperia X – it’s a good phone but its price might shun potential buyers.
Sony Xperia XA specs:
5.0-inch HD IPS LCD display, 294ppi
2.9GHz MediaTek MT6755 Helio P10 octa-core processor
Mali-T860 MP2 GPU
16GB internal storage
Expandable via microSD
13MP rear camera with Phase Detection AF, LED flash
8MP front camera
4G LTE, 3G HSPA+
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
143.6 x 66.8 x 7.9 mm
What we liked:
* Nice build and design
* Capable CPU and RAM
What we disliked:
* Inconsistent camera AF performance
* Small battery
* Expensive compared to competitor offerings