Sony Xperia X, XA, XA Ultra: Average and Overpriced

Sony Xperia X, XA, XA Ultra: Average and Overpriced

The new Sony Xperia flagship, the “X” series smartphones are now in Singapore. The Xperia X, Xperia XA, and Xperia XA Ultra focus on three aspects, camera, battery and design features. The X series is too expensive though, and struggles to differentiate itself in the current competition.

Sony terms the Xperia X as the premium smartphone offering, featuring an intelligent camera with quicker response times and Predictive Hybrid Autofocus, while the Xperia XA is the mid ranger, with focus on the tiny bezels, and overall design, and finally to the huge screen with a 16 MP selfie camera, the Xperia XA Ultra.

What’s New

Xperia X’s camera has what Sony declares as the best in the world “autofocus on a moving object” with Sony’s Predictive Hybrid Autofocus, which enables a user to focus on an object, intelligently track and predict its movement to ensure crystal clear shots. The 23MP rear camera also features SteadyShot video stabilisation, renowned to be the world’s most stable video capture, for smooth videos free of “shaky cam” effects. There’s also Quick Startup – the super-fast quick launch from standby at the touch of a button to capture the perfect shot on-demand in less than 0.6 seconds. Yes, it’s super fast but it’s pointless when the snaps were out of focus, which happened to me quite a few times. This was in a low light and challenging environment though.

There’s also a 13 MP front camera, which leveraging on Sony’s sensors, can capture up to a sensitivity of ISO6400. Featuring a seamless metal back and curved glass edges around its 5” display, the Xperia X fit and design is it’s strongest selling point. Similar to the Z5, the fingerprint sensor is integrated on the power button the side of the phone for instant access to wake your device. Thankfully, Sony retains the fingerprint sensor for the Singapore market, unlike the US debacle.

The Xperia X is Sony’s 2016 flagship for the Singapore market. Unfortunately, it seems like there are no plans to bring the Sony Xperia X Performance to Singapore. While priced at almost flagship levels, do note that the Xperia X only come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor and a 5″ full HD screen.

Xperia XA is the world’s narrowest 5″ smartphone with a width of 66.8mm. It’s indeed a pleasure to hold. It looks almost the same as the Xperia X, and I was only able to identify it by the lack of a fingerprint sensor. It’s a nice looking phone that offers the classic Sony mobile look, which hides the specifications that are rather run of the mill for a mid range phone. It runs on the Helio P10, 2 GB of RAM, 720P, 13MP rear / 8MP front, 16GB of storage.

And finally, the Xperia XA Ultra boasts a 16 MP Front Facing camera, with features such as Smart Selfie flash, hand shutter image capture, and Optical Image Stabilisation. This 6″ phone has a thin bezel, which design the large screen, its super slim design and width of only 79mm makes it feel like a 5.5″ phone. The XA Ultra runs on a MediaTek MT6755, 3GB of RAM, 16GB storage, 21.5MP Exmor RS rear camera, and a 16MP Exmor front camera.

My Thoughts

Each X series smartphone is decked in the traditional Sony Omnibalance design, and it look quite similar to previous generations perhaps other than for the matte, metal back. All 3 phones have dedicated shutter buttons, which is a nice feature that Sony has retained. All models are available in dual-SIM variants. The Xperia X series smartphones will be available island-wide – at Sony Stores, Sony Centres, local telcos and authorised retailers. Xperia X will be retailing at a RRP of S$848, Xperia XA at a RRP of S$498, and the RRP of Xperia XA Ultra will be announced at a later date.

The new Sony phones are expensive, and that makes for a tough battle against other phones in the market, especially when in 2016, competition is stiff with so many excellent phones. It’s no longer just specifications, build quality of phones have also improved tremendously. So this time around, I cannot fathom why Sony would place a significantly weaker processor in their “flagship” but has the audacity to price it at levels close to the “real flagships”.

The other disappointment to me was the camera. With so many other manufacturers using Sony lens, it is always a mystery to me how the image quality on Sony Mobile phones is rather lacklustre. In controlled environments such as a fixed object low light photography, the Xperia X does trump other flagship models such as the Samsung S7 or the iPhone 6S Plus, but otherwise, in almost every other shot, I wouldn’t pick the Xperia X. Is it the software? I am not sure. It could be due to the lack of OIS, which in the case of the Xperia X, Sony uses their SteadyShot software. There are some genuinely beautiful photos taken with the Xperia X, it’s just not mine. If you are looking for an easy to use, pick up and shoot in auto mode camera, this isn’t it.

There are rumours that Sony might be leaving the mobile market, and with this year Xperia X series, it will only make the rumours more credible.