Sony Xperia X, XA and X Performance: Hands On with the “Almost” Flagship Smartphones

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Sony is good at keeping a secret, as it surprised attendees at Mobile World Congress with three new mid-range models: the Xperia XA, Xperia X, and Xperia X Performance.

The Sony Xperia X Performance has a sanded metal back panel.

The Sony Xperia X Performance has a sanded metal back panel.

All three Xperias share the same square design, similar to all Xperias going back to the Z series. They all have 5-inch displays and ship with Android OS 6.0. As for differences, the Xperia X and X Performance have a 23-megapixel camera each, just like Xperia Z5, while Xperia XA has ‘just’ a 13-megapixel camera.

Similarly, Xperia X and X Performance come with a metal body (with the Performance sporting sanded metal), while the simplest Xperia XA has a plastic body. Both the X and X Performance have a 1080 Full HD display, while the XA has a 720 HD display. All three Xperia models have slightly rounded display edges, which is something we are used to seeing on only premium phones or the most powerful mid-range devices.

Finally, the entry model, Xperia XA, features MediaTek’s octa-core MT6755 processor and 2 GB of RAM, the Xperia X has Qualcomm’s hexa-core Snapdragon 650 and 3 GB of RAM, while Xperia X Performance comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and 3 GB of RAM, which matches Sony’s current flagship model the, Xperia Z5.

Similar Xperia-ence

We tested all three devices in Barcelona, and came away with positive impressions. The Xperia X Performance is just a notch below the other flagships at the show, the LG G5 and Samsung S7 and S7 edge. However, the X Performance lacks the innovative design of the G5 and Edge display that defines the more expensive of Samsung’s latest.

The Sony Xperia X has a plastic build.

The Sony Xperia X has a plastic build.

The Xperia X Performance’s sanded metal build and pastel colors give it a very modern look that combines well with its spec sheet. It seems to match the Z5 outside of the design, and that’s a good thing. We praised the Z5 for its fluidity, display quality, and camera output.

The Xperia X is also an attractive smartphone – maybe one of the best-looking in the mid-range market with its smooth metal and sleek dimensions. Its display and camera match the Xperia X Performance (and Z5), but it’s noticeably less powerful overall, something we detected during our time with it.

That’s not to suggest it runs poorly. It should handle day-to-day tasks with ease. As should the Xperia XA. Though, when strained with demanding apps and sites, the XA show its limits. But what it lacks in power, it makes up in style. The XA turned many heads at MWC with its cheerful colors, solid plastic, and slim display rim. The only thing that is slightly worrying is that the photo quality is not on the same level as the more powerful Xs.

It’s heartening to see Sony introduce mid-range smartphones that are closer to flagships than not. The new Xperias may not have the novelty of a modular phone or curved display with VR support, but as basic smartphones for getting things done, they impress.

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