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.


Expectations


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!

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53 Comments

53. smoothiii

Posts: 20; Member since: Jun 25, 2013

Sony must have some screwed up leadership. The XA has a screen that actually curves into the sides and looks great. Why would you not make this the new look of your top line phones. They took the conservative approach and took a risk with the phone that has average chipset, etc. This is why they are going to end up selling this division or shutting it down. They need leadership to take chances. it would be different, if they were killing it in sales and was doing the volume of Apple and Samsung but they are not even consistent with how they are globally launching phones. Launch one, then another, then an update to the previous one. This seems to be Sony's demise across the board. They once led in so many areas and are not any more. That XA should be the flagship. This is why I will not have a Sony phone.

52. Pinder4u

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

if sd 650 support up to 21 MP camera then how come xperia X have 23 MP camera? can some explain it? am not a geek.

51. monoke

Posts: 1209; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

XA is the best looking phone of the show. Sony should build off that for their next flagship with dual speakers and premium back plate of cours and they've got themselves a winner!

49. goodenough

Posts: 82; Member since: Sep 28, 2014

Actually XA looks so cool Z6 should look like that

48. gosselin

Posts: 90; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

I want one of those

43. Marslander

Posts: 161; Member since: Jan 08, 2015

While other companies continue to work to make their bezels smaller, Sony will buck that trend and will insist on making their bezels big!

42. Chuck007

Posts: 1420; Member since: Mar 02, 2014

Heard multiple reports that Sony employees confirm the X series is gonna replace the Z. This true or no?

46. therons

Posts: 59; Member since: Feb 25, 2014

Not true. Sony line up will be : - M series : lifestyle for mid range - X series : mid range but flagship taste - Z series : flagship

47. Einstein333

Posts: 146; Member since: May 22, 2012

How do you know?

41. Duskun

Posts: 41; Member since: May 09, 2015

Please post hands-on on YouTube

39. TPenn

Posts: 47; Member since: Apr 18, 2015

XA will be mine

37. knoxred

Posts: 29; Member since: Aug 23, 2015

What a surprise...

36. dimas

Posts: 3461; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Xperia X Performance compact with 3000mah battery, capacitive buttons and sporting dimensions of z3 compact! Do it Sony just do it!

34. FrankUnderwood2

Posts: 243; Member since: Oct 01, 2015

Definitely a pleasant surprise from Sony. Although, Xperia XA is the most eye catchy among all 3, I am worried about its screen durability due to no side protection and there will be lots of accidental touch. Still, a great surprise anyway.

33. nycguy54

Posts: 64; Member since: Dec 13, 2014

I want X Performer!!

29. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

Where is the hands on video PA?

24. Feanor

Posts: 1448; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

I'm actually disappointed about two things. First the Android 6.0 Marshmallow skin from Sony is apparently not the stock Android version of their Concept for Android initiative. It looks as skinned as before, just with some icon differences. Second the front is treated as the rear, which means that you don't get the nice full uninterrupted glass feeling, but this window-like screen that I hate so much on Galaxys. Last, I think that the lack of side bezels seems to remain exclusive to the mid-range Xperias, so I suspect that either the fingerprint scanner or waterproofing don't permit for this design on flagship models. So, I wouldn't get my hopes too high.

21. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

I know why you are saying same design. Because the phone is the same brick since Xperia Z 2013. Buy all phones from Z to Z5 ,you will see a difference. X series is different as well. Look at XA. And X and X performance design is different slightly from all Z series phones because of the slightly curved screen.

38. biboo

Posts: 16; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

I think you are talking about an other device No touches except the metal Piece of brick with a screen thats 1080p and a battary and maybe price over 500 us dollars......

15. biboo

Posts: 16; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Really i cant believe this whats going on with sony 4 years and this is the fifth year with the sane design??

20. 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.

13. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Wtf Sony, no FM radio on the X Performance? Why?! If you don't care about that it's a very good phone. But what will they do with the Z-series? There's no word on availibiliy, and knowing Sony that means it will take a while. I will propbably skip the S7e and wait for the Z6(p), but I guess that will be a long wait.

19. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

It seems like the Xperia X phones will launch at Feb and Xperia Z phones will launch at Sep

10. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

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

7. ryq24

Posts: 876; 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 .

6. may_czos

Posts: 958; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

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

11. maherk

Posts: 7084; 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: 7084; 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.

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