Sony Xperia X Performance vs Apple iPhone 6s: first look

While we came into this year's MWC thinking that we have a pretty good idea of what's in store for us, Sony somehow managed to sneak not one but three entirely new devices under the rumor mill's radar. It's the new Xperia X line – the imagining of the Sony flagship handset, and a new direction for the company's mobile branch... or so Sony says.

Out of the three new handsets, the Xperia X Performance is the flagship-class heavy hitter, and, of course, we will be pitting it against top-class competitors. Here, we take a look at how it does against the Apple iPhone 6s — at least at first look, of course.


Gone is the glass back that Sony's handsets were known for, the Xperia X Performance has a brushed metal finish all around its body, save for the front. The device is still rectangular, though its edges are much softer than the ones on the Xperia Z5, so we find it to actually be nice to hold. On the front, we have a glass panel fully covering the face of the device, and two grilles for the stereo front-firing speakers — it's good to see that Sony didn't give up on those, but we are eager to find if their quality has been upped from the Xperia Z line.

The iPhone 6s is well-known by now – a full aluminum body with rounded sides for a soft touch against the palm, with a front glass panel that is shaped to create the illusion of a seamless transition. It's still slimmer and lighter than the Xperia X Performance, though not by a whole lot.

Both smartphones feature a fingerprint scanner — on the iPhone, it's the Touch ID home button, and on the Xperia X Performance, it's integrated on the side power button. We appreciate the fact that the Xperia also has a dedicated two-step shutter key, which also acts as a camera launch shortcut button. We are still no fans of the way its volume rocker is placed far below the power button — we were surprised with the placement when it was introduced with the Xperia Z5 line, and are even more surprised that Sony persists with that design decision, as it's just awkward and uncomfortable.

All in all, out of the two, the iPhone has a more intuitive, easy to handle design, but the Xperia X Performance certainly has the looks and the feel to capture the hearts of Android fans worldwide.


Sony knocked things down a notch with the X Performance, pinning its display diagonal at 5 inches. This makes for a device that's easier to manage with one hand than the slightly clunkier, 5.2-inch Xperia Z5. The screen has a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution, which makes for a very crisp image at 441 ppi. Unfortunately, there's still a whole lot of bezel around it, and the screen-to-body ratio of the device measures at 66.93%. It's a bit disappointing that the midrange-class Xperia XA got the edge-to-edge display, and the flagship level X Performance did not, but oh well.

The iPhone has an even smaller, 4.7-inch display, with a 750 x 1334 pixel resolution, for a 326 pixel density. It's still sharp enough, with no distinguishable pixels when viewed up close, though some say they can perceive a lack of detail and wish Apple would finally up its displays to 400 ppi. None the less – nice looking display, though, may be a bit on the small side for two-thumb typing.


When it comes to manufacturer in-house Android customization, Sony has one of the cleaner interfaces in the market. It's snappy, it's pretty, and it isn't chock-full with features with questionable usefulness. We didn't have much time to check for subtler improvements, such as better streamlining and modernization of the UI, as those were pain points with the Xperia Z5, so we can't wait to get to toy with it a bit more. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the amount of bloat apps has been reduced, as we spotted quite a bit of apps on it that aren't part of the core Android experience... or part of any core experience for that matter. But at least the choice to remove them is still there.

The iPhone 6s, naturally, runs the latest iOS 9.2, which is a pretty simple, but streamlined and coherent platform. There will be no file management here, no homescreen widgets, and iTunes is king for most consumer multimedia. By now, iOS has its fair share of apps that the user prefers to forget about, too — such as Wallet, Find Friends, or Watch, among others — and, contrary to the Android-toting Xperia, those can't be disabled, so the user is forced to hide them in a folder on some faraway homescreen.

Processor and Memory

The Xperia X Performance has the latest and greatest quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and 3 GB of RAM under its hood. We've seen some great performances on benchmarks from the new chipset and are hopeful that this bodes well for the new Sony flagship as well. Combined with the light UI, we didn't get any stutters or tear-ups for the short hands-on we had with the X Performance. Of course, we can't wait to put it through its paces.

The Apple A9 in the iPhone 6s is a beast in its own right, and certainly among the top performers out there right now. It's only coupled with 2 GB of RAM, but iOS is known for not being as hungry for memory as its Android rival.

Storage-wise, the X Performance comes with 32 GB of memory and allows for expansion via microSD of up to 200 GB. The iPhone 6s is infamous for coming in three tiers of 16 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB, each one costing $100 more than the previous, and no expansion slot is on board.


Sony continues to stuff as many pixels as it reasonably can in its smartphone cameras, and the Xperia X Performance has a 23 MP sensor, just like its Xperia Z5 predecessor. It also inherits the Hybrid AutoFocus tech, which provides super-fast focus speeds of up to 0.03 seconds. Aside from that, we'd really like to see an improved camera interface and better processing prowess, as, despite the high resolution on its snappers, Sony hasn't been able to floor us with amazing picture quality for a while now. Considering that Samsung actually decided to go down in resolution just to get bigger pixels that collect more light, we are a bit curious why Sony continues to stick with 23 megapixels. The X Performance also has a 13 MP selfie camera on the front, which we are also curious to test out in depth.

Apple's snapper has a 12 MP resolution and gives us some greatly detailed snaps on a consistent basis. It's well known for adding a yellow-ish or green-ish tint to images, but it's something that's easy to live with, considering the dependability. We would love to compare the actual performance of the two cameras when we get more time to play with the X Performance, though.


The Sony Xperia X Performance looks and feels great in the hand. It packs bleeding edge hardware and will surely appeal to fans of Android and Sony's Xperia brand. But does it have enough to actually pull some iPhone aficionados to its side? We have to say it's a bit too early to tell. We'd love to see a stable system performance, subtle improvements in the phone's workflow, good image post-processing on the camera, and a beefy sound from the stereo speakers. We are pretty sure that if those points are met, the iPhone may just lose a few users.

Related phones

Xperia X Performance
  • Display 5.0 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP (Single camera)
    13 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 3GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2700 mAh
  • OS Android 8.0 Oreo
iPhone 6s
  • Display 4.7 inches
    1334 x 750 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera)
    5 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A9 APL0898, 2GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 1715 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x



25. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

battle for the next bezel king.... and iPhone still keep his title :D

18. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

I'm pretty impressed with Sony on this model. I like the flat brushed look. I still prefer the chrome back on the z5 premium but this is a pretty nice looking phone. It's a bit small for my liking though.

15. bistech

Posts: 59; Member since: Jul 23, 2015

He complain on xperia x about bezel but when it comes to Apple he didnt complain? Whats thhe difference between their bezel?

16. Obie-Wan

Posts: 113; Member since: May 24, 2012

IKR!..., i bet it would be around the same ratio as the iPhone, but somehow they didn't want to mention it.... geeez :(

17. boosook

Posts: 1442; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

I was about to write the same thing when I read your comment... the iphone 6 has a ratio of 65.7, lower than the X Performance, but somehow they felt compelled to criticize Sony while they didn't even mention the iphone screen to body ratio! That's ridiculous and show how biased tech "journalists" are.

20. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

Because the front-facing speaker, making the bezel thicker.

24. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

its tottaly different!!! its like comparing Apple's bezels vs non-Apple's bezel

4. avishekmukherjee

Posts: 362; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

I love both

3. Kumar123 unregistered

Both are beautiful looking phones unlike cheap and dirty looking Samsung phones.

7. fyahking

Posts: 1146; Member since: Jan 28, 2015

Ahahaha, I agreed the x and 6s are both old, cheap, ugly and with beautiful big bezels.

19. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

Big bezel because the fingerprint sensor, and the front-facing stereo speaker. Can you google it before say something foolish?

11. dimas

Posts: 3461; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

You're talking about the plastic samsung phones right? In case you're late for the party, s6, s6 edge and the new a series are pretty metal phones from last year.

13. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Internal quality, including the quality of screens and processors, is excellent. External quality is another matter. Nokia, HTC, and Sony handsets have an air of quality Samsung just can't come close to, and of course internally they are at least comparable to Samsung as well. And then there's the IPhone........

14. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The S6/Note 5/S7 look so much better than the iPhone 6/6s, which are so ugly that when they were leaked, Apple fans insisted the pictures were fake because Apple would never release anything that hideous.

22. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Looks like someone is still stuck at 2014

2. Iodine

Posts: 1518; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

There is no comparison, 6S just stuffed with great tech and already sold like a hudred million. It's also way thinner than any other flagship. I don't know why it's called "Performance" if it's not so performant.

5. vuyonc

Posts: 1094; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Um, that was serious?

23. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

its obviously sarcasm, regular PA reader wont sat something like that :-/

6. sgodsell

Posts: 7659; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Bull on the iPhone 6s just stuffed with great tech. It has an old HD display. It's the only flagship priced device with a low resolution display. Apple still wants to use a low resolution display so they can brag how fast their 1 megapixel display is compared to a 2 or 4 megapixel display. The Xperia X performance is pushing two times the pixels compared to the iPhone 6s. The Xperia X is performing much better than Apples crappy iPhone 6s. The iPhone 6s is expensive old tech. Besides with VR up and coming. Those extra pixels are needed. But you wouldn't know that iodine because you just crawled up from your rock.

9. darkkjedii

Posts: 31797; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Dude, you want some Midol for those cramps. Geez!!!

8. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Iodine need to stop drinking Apple coolaid lol...

12. dimas

Posts: 3461; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

He's even wondering why it was branded performance when he dosen't even seen a single full review out of it.

10. dimas

Posts: 3461; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Never go retard iodine, never go full retard.

1. bucky

Posts: 3797; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

This Sony phone actually looks pretty damn good.

21. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Display part: Xperia: lots of bezels, lots of whining. iPhone: still sharp enough, nice looking display WTH PA?

27. dil2abu

Posts: 315; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Lol.. Typical PA

28. josephnero

Posts: 795; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

Typical PA.bought by apple or {{sponsered}}

29. buccob

Posts: 2981; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Funny how they mentioned that the XP had a 66.9% screen-to-body ratio but they left out the 65% s-t-b of the iPhone

30. 0kax0el0

Posts: 238; Member since: Nov 15, 2012

Yeah, they tend to do that, but apart from this point it seems like a not so biased first look article. I just can't forget their reviews about iPhone 6s and Xperia Z5 compact. As of PA the Z5 compact has a quite small and not so high-res display, although it's clear from the name of the device that's not the aim. But the iPhone 6s is of an apropiate size and, maybe not class leading, but quite good resolution display.

26. mmmanuuu

Posts: 403; Member since: Nov 05, 2013

Phone Arena please give me a FIRST LOOK REVIEW OF GALAXY S7 EDGE vs NOKIA 1100

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