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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.

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