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Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 7

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Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review

Introduction


Once again, Sony has unleashed a monster upon the world, this time around called the Xperia XA1 Ultra. It’s the bigger sibling to the XA1, packing most of the same hardware in a larger form factor, with a couple of improvements.

But besides its size, the XA1 Ultra has a few more things going for it: a couple of, as the company calls them, “high performance” cameras, a new yet classic Sony design encased within a metal frame, and an edge-to-edge full HD screen.

But while its size may suggest otherwise, the XA1 Ultra’s specs put it firmly into mid-range territory, which may be a bit of a problem for all the spec chasers out there. So let’s dive in and see whether Sony’s latest phablet holds up under deeper scrutiny:

Design

A classic Sony in a supersized form factor

Like it or not, Sony’s carved its own little niche in terms of smartphone design and is steadfastly sticking to it. This is very much the case with the XA1 Ultra, which carries that classic, ultra-tall Sony look, but with a couple of extra tweaks added on top.

But first, let’s address the elephant in the room – which is, coincidentally, the XA1 Ultra itself. This thing is absolutely gigantic, putting to shame most every other device that dares call itself a phablet. And while this isn’t a bad thing per se, the usability costs associated with such a huge device don’t entirely feel justified.

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review

However, one-handed use isn’t as bad as one would expect it to be – while it could never be called a comfortable experience, it’s still entirely within the realm of possible for more straightforward tasks, such as scrolling through your Twitter feed. The biggest reason for this are the XA1 Ultra’s non-slippery back and sides, a change from the smaller XA1 which makes adjusting your grip to reach the further parts of the screen a less risky experience than it would otherwise be with such a big device.

But while the phone itself sits well in the hand and feels sturdy and solid, it sure doesn’t look so – there’s a ton of seams between the different panels, somewhat diminishing the otherwise good-looking design. As for the buttons, both the volume rocker and the power button did their job well enough. However, the dedicated camera key is just all-around bad – it’s mushy and way too easy to press, while also not providing enough feedback.

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
6.5 x 3.11 x 0.32 inches
165 x 79 x 8.1 mm
6.63 oz (188 g)

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra

Sony Xperia XA1
5.71 x 2.64 x 0.31 inches
145 x 67 x 8 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

Sony Xperia XA1

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
6.17 x 3.06 x 0.31 inches
156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm
6.56 oz (186 g)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)

Motorola Moto M
5.96 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches
151.35 x 75.35 x 7.85 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

Motorola Moto M


To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.

Display

A surprisingly great panel that actually outclasses Sony’s own flagships in terms of color reproduction

At a whopping 6 inches, the XA1’s display is its centerpiece, debuting a newish visual design for a Sony phone, no side bezels present. Well, almost – turning the display on reveals a pair of sneaky black borders on its sides, which diminish this effect. The panel itself is a full HD one, with a pixel density of 367 ppi, which isn’t the best, but should be more than enough for everyday usage.

The sneaky black borders - Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review
The sneaky black borders - Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review
The sneaky black borders - Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra Review

The sneaky black borders


But what’s pleasantly surprising here is the XA1 Ultra’s color reproduction, which is actually pretty good for a mid-ranger, thanks to its accurate blues and greens. However, yellows tend to be a bit greenish, while reds are overall a bit weak. Still, compared to, say, the XZ Premium, this panel is better in terms of accurate color reproduction, though it’s still a tad too blueish.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 619
(Excellent)
13
(Poor)
1:1444
(Excellent)
7493
(Good)
2
3.82
(Good)
5.69
(Average)
Sony Xperia XA1 578
(Excellent)
27
(Poor)
1:962
(Average)
6494
(Excellent)
2
3.13
(Good)
3.95
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 569
(Excellent)
1.8
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6899
(Excellent)
2.19
2.58
(Good)
7.44
(Average)
Motorola Moto M 445
(Good)
7
(Good)
1:1398
(Excellent)
8452
(Poor)
2.24
4.21
(Average)
8.42
(Poor)
View all

16 Comments
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posted on 22 May 2017, 09:32

1. zacsaturday (Posts: 242; Member since: 09 May 2014)


I think they've just given up, they can't decide how to design the buttons on the side. First this (silver on the side) then a fingerprint scanner side button and now back to silver button....

posted on 22 May 2017, 10:35 3

5. Lumberjack (Posts: 78; Member since: 04 May 2017)


Edgeless design does not allow FPS as power button.

posted on 22 May 2017, 09:43

2. tango_charlie (Posts: 334; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)


If they had used the SD625 along with a 4000mAh battery the XA1 Ultra would have been the best Midrange device of 2017!

posted on 22 May 2017, 10:11

3. trojan_horse (Posts: 4167; Member since: 06 May 2016)


I feel you... But as it stands, the 2017 Galaxy A7 is the best midrange phone... It's battery life is ridiculously good, with a whopping 115hrs endurance rating at GSMArena, and also great SOT on PhoneArena.

posted on 22 May 2017, 13:13

12. tango_charlie (Posts: 334; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)


@trojan the A7 has a great battery life but it's quite expensive for a midrange device. IF Xiaomi would offer the mi note 4 in Europe - Germany I would go for that: sd 625, 4gb RAM, 64gb storage and a monster 4100mah battery for under 200 us dollar.

posted on 22 May 2017, 10:44 1

6. Lumberjack (Posts: 78; Member since: 04 May 2017)


Mediatek CPU's cost half.
P20 is a bit better than SD625

posted on 22 May 2017, 13:16

13. tango_charlie (Posts: 334; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)


@lumberjack indeed the Mediatek SOC is faster in bench marks but in every day usage you will hardly see a difference (maybe except for gaming) the SD 625 on the other hand is quite power efficient.

posted on 22 May 2017, 11:05

7. GreenMan (Posts: 1764; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


I beg your pardon...?

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 has "BOTH"; A 14nm Snapdragon 625 and slightly 'BIGGER' 4,100mAh battery and it cost just...

$200...!

Oh well,

G'Day!

posted on 22 May 2017, 12:41 1

11. Dr.Phil (Posts: 1570; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


Except the Redmi Note 4 doesn't have a great camera and I've heard from people who have bought the device have stated that the battery has problems with charging and longevity after about a month of usage.

posted on 22 May 2017, 19:37

14. ibend (Posts: 6549; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)


best mid-ranger will be Mi6 or OP5..

posted on 22 May 2017, 10:34 1

4. Lumberjack (Posts: 78; Member since: 04 May 2017)


Haven't read yet.. I bet PA said bad about cam, that front cam is not better than i7+'s ...

Lets read...

posted on 22 May 2017, 11:06

8. GreenMan (Posts: 1764; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra with ultra bezels...?

Ha!

G'Day!

posted on 22 May 2017, 12:04 2

9. drahcir02 (Posts: 98; Member since: 03 Mar 2016)


tard.

posted on 22 May 2017, 12:27 1

10. Mr.mobile (Posts: 61; Member since: 09 Mar 2017)


woooo far just 2700mah battery 10Hours of SOT great sony and mediatek just imagine if this phone comes with 4000mah battery

posted on 22 May 2017, 20:12

15. rsiders (Posts: 1061; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)


Isn't the pixel density better than that of the iPhone?

posted on 23 May 2017, 03:47

16. dil2abu (Posts: 315; Member since: 09 Nov 2011)


PA is so simple. If PA see SONY they give 7 :)

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Display6.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (367 ppi)
Camera23 megapixels
Hardware
MediaTek helio P20, Octa-core, 2300 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
4 GB RAM
Size6.50 x 3.11 x 0.32 inches
(165 x 79 x 8.1 mm)
6.63 oz  (188 g)
Battery2700 mAh, 13.27 hours talk time

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