Sony Xperia X, X Performance, and XA hands-on: a much needed reboot

For one reason or another, we had a pretty good idea of what most of the industry's big boys are going to bring to MWC '16, but we have to admit –Sony managed to remain a mystery until the last day. Being a bit too soon after the company unveiled the Z5, we didn't really expect anything big out of the company... which is why we were so shocked to find out that it's announcing not just one, but three new smartphones here, and each covering a different end of the spectrum at that.

Trying to escape from the disappointment that the last few Xperia Z phones were, Sony is now launching its new phones under a new line – Sony X. And it's kicking things off with the Xperia X, Xperia X Performance, and Xperia XA.

Sony Xperia X and X Performance

The mainstream Xperia X and high-end Xperia X Performance are almost identical in terms of design. The devices' design language is very similar to that of the recent Xperia Z smartphones – you'll basically have a hard time telling one from the other, if you're not looking at their backs. That's because the X and X Performance use metal instead of glass for their back plates. The X Performance differentiates here as it has a stylish brushed metal finish. Which one looks better — the brushed material of the Performance or the cleaner look of the X — depends on your personal preference.

The good news is Sony has finally, finally reworked the ergonomics of its products. As a result, the X and X Performance no longer feel like you're holding a knife. Their rounded edges with no sharp surfaces jutting out feel much nicer in the hand than before. As a matter of fact, both phones are also slightly smaller than the Z5, as they go with 5" 1080p displays, instead of 5.2". Thank you, Sony, our hands are grateful.

Besides the finishes, probably the biggest differentiating factor between the two is the chipset: the mainsteam Xperia X uses the upper mid-range Snapdragon 650 SoC, while the the X Performance has the cutting-edge Snapdragon 820. Both handsets feel nice and fast; system performance seems to be very good, comparable with phones from rival Android camps. The Xperia X, which operates very well within the system, will not be as impressive as the X Performance when it comes to gaming and other more-than-usual demanding tasks.

The camera department is another area where the X and X Performance will attempt to leave a mark. Both are equipped with 23 MP 'Predictive Hybrid AF' shooters and, drum roll please, 13 MP front-facing camera! The Predictive AF stuff means the camera will try to predict the direction in which the objects in front of the lens are moving, thus achieving better and more reliable focus. The new camera interface, though, as functional as it may be with its Manual mode, feels a tad clumsy at first glance. Guess we'll have to spend some more time with it to see if it won't start feeling more natural' to us.

Sony Xperia XA

The outlier in Sony's new line-up is the Xperia XA. It's mid-range product that's designed to be a bit more affordable, but not to the point of rendering the user experience compromised. It's easily the best looking phone of the trio, with a significantly narrower body with minimal side bezels, and overall cleaner stature. The XA also feels just right, with smooth edges and light weight. Perhaps most importantly, it's a breath of fresh air when it comes to Sony's phones, as both the X and X Performance remind of the Xperia Z style. The XA, in contrast, is fresh and new, and quite frankly, feels like the future for Sony's mobile efforts.

Sticking with a 5" 720p screen is a great way to deliver a nice viewing experience at low cost these days, so that's what the XA has to offer. It's not as fine as the 1080p panels of the X and X Performance, but detail is still good enough. There's plenty of pixels to make reading or viewing pleasurable.

The chip powering the Xperia XA is the MediaTek MT6755. You needn't feel disheartened by the fact it's not a Snapdragon, because this MediaTek manages to deliver a nice and fluid performance on the XA. |It's probably not as instantaneous as what we experience in the Xperia X or X Performance, but it still manages to move swiftly enough. Of course, further testing will grant us more insight into the XA's long-term handling. The camera experience in the XA is the same as in the X and X Performance, but the resolution is "just" 13 MP (and "just" 8 MP for
the front camera), and the phone doesn't benefit from the new Predictive autofocus techniques.


The new Xperia X series is a great surprise by Sony. Just as the company starting falling out of relevance, the three new X devices appeared to save the day. The Xperia X Performance and X will probably be on most tech enthusiasts' minds, but it's the Xperia XA which makes us hopeful that Sony is truly on the right track. We'd definitely like to see a higher-end smartphone using the XA's simply yet enigmatic design characteristics.

All three handsets are to be released in June, which, to be honest, feels a bit later than we'd like. By then, the new Galaxy S7 and G5 will already be on the market, while Samsung's popular A series is already on sale. On the other hand, Sony better not rush it, because its previous efforts really left us with a bitter taste. Here's to hoping this time will be different, and X will mark the sweet spot for consumers. Let us know how you like the new Xperia X smartphones in the comments!



1. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

Great from Sony ,, hope they will not get the usual 7/10 phonarena rating

2. TyrionLannister unregistered

It's not an iPhone. Expect 6.5 at best.

3. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

May be, everything is possible here lol

4. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Any info about improvements of S7 front camera over the S6?

8. TyrionLannister unregistered

IDK much about it. Not interested in the S7, or selfies in particular. S6 front camera is pretty solid already. Anyway, here's what I do know: Both use the 5 MP 16:9 S5K4E6 sensor, which is Samsung made. S6 uses F1.9 aperture, S7 uses F1.7. S7 should be marginally better in low-light selfies due wider F-stop(assuming focal length is same or higher).

26. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

So basically means they enlarged the aperture but still uses the same sensor. Due to wide angle lens on S6, photos in the corners of the screen tend to warp. Not sure if there's any fix Samsung did on that

27. TyrionLannister unregistered

Well, there is no fix to that. Any lens with wide angle will cause warping. It's basic optics. That's why wide angle lens are not that much popular. All the popular wide angle lenses have that fisheye effect going on. What happens is that the lens captures the sphere around it. Now, a small portion(angle wise) of a sphere is relatively flat, but if you increase angle, the spherical effects get apparent. Imagine our earth. Now a town or a city appear relatively flat as the angle relative to the radius of earth is small. But if you take a sizable portion of earth, you can't display it fully on a screen. If you stretch the earth to a rectangular screen, it will cause the same warping effects. Like for example imagine this map stretched to full rectangle: There is a possible fix to that: You make your screen curved, or use VR. That's how you can model a sphere , and use wider videos like 360 degree ones. The other fix is to either use a narrower lens, or just crop the corners.

28. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Thanks for the detailed explanation. The site needs more people like you instead of trollers.

9. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Not really a reboot from Sony. Still the same Omni design with a different confusing name scheme...heck why wasn't the X called the M6?

14. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

XA has a different design from the other devices. Actually I don't won't Sony to change the omnibalance design. It is perfect. They have done many changes from Z to z5. People who have used all devices know about this. But people who haven't gone to depth of inspecting won't say this. They say same design over and over again. What about Samsung I can say that they have the same design since s3 as well. But when we really use the phone we see the difference. Of course I know the design is entirely different on the S6 and S7. But from outside perspective same curve design is used. Are you people asking Sony to move to curve design? I don't think it is the right decision. There many people like me who love the omnibalance design. The presence of a metal back is great. No more cracked back glass. Think about what I am saying.

17. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

btw I'm in love with Omnibalance design , I find it the best ,,

40. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

I love the sharp edges. Hate ugly G5.

31. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

Sony's phone designs are near perfect, there's no need to change it.

32. VigneshRaja

Posts: 49; Member since: Dec 17, 2014


45. nodes

Posts: 1159; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

the quite large top and bottom chin with super-slim side bezels look weird to me.

16. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

It will be a 7.5

23. MSi_GS70 unregistered

it actually looks weird.. those frames up n down like .. too thick

30. Switch00

Posts: 536; Member since: Sep 04, 2013

Instead of Ultra or something really inovative, Sony gave us renamed Z series. And put those buttons on bottom bezel. Pssst - can be done.

5. Joosty

Posts: 473; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

The Z5 made love to a Z3.

6. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Reboot in what? Old design that people simply hate? Massive bezels? Flagship price?

11. maherk

Posts: 6876; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Not to mention the washed-out screen! Like seriously, I had to check few hands-on videos to double check if PA had a terrible camera, or if it's the screen. And in all videos, the screen looked dull with bad viewing angles.

18. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

Bro the brightness was set to low or little higher. I saw it as well. The display sort of gives an amoled effect. I felt as if it was ipsneo. Which in 2014 became popular since it had better colors on some meizu phone which had both an amoled and ipsneo version. I think the display is ipsneo. I don't mind the display tech hope Sony price this device right. After all Sony made the world's best IPS display before the G5 on the Xperia Z5p. And Sony make the iPhone displays. I am pretty sure all displays were better than m4 and m5 displays.

22. maherk

Posts: 6876; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Again, I ve seen bunch of videos, not one or two. And it is even more apparent when compared to another smartphone.

25. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015 I've seen other video's as well were they mentioned that the display has been improved/looks good.

35. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

You are correct indeed. Very astonishing the xperia X , X performace display is better than Z5. Not the Premium.can't believe it. Even the 23mp camera on Xperia X beats the Xperia Z5 camera. Z5 front looks garbage comparative to the Xperia X series front camera. Weird. Well done Sony mobile Sweden and Japan.

44. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

there's a big diff IRL, trust me.

50. xperian

Posts: 418; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

You shouldn't judge the screen from videos. Try it in a store, then say it's bad.

7. ryq24

Posts: 875; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

if Sony can price these phones competitively maybe they will have a chance of doing well. But knowing Sony I doubt that will ever happen.

12. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

in our dreams ,,I like Sony but there mid-range mobile phones are a bit over-priced .

10. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I see little here to make me want to replace my Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.

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