It's time for a reboot at Sony: the Xperia Z series are getting replaced by the brand new Xperia X line that introduce evolved design, and a renewed focus on camera and battery longevity.
The Xperia X is in the very core of Sony's new offers: an affordable 5 incher with the Snapdragon 650 chip on board and Sony's brand new Predictive Hybrid auto-focusing, we were curious to see how it compares against the current Sony flagship, the Xperia Z5. Luckily, we had both phones at hand at MWC 2016, so here is a quick first-look comparison.
Design and Display
An evolution rather than revolution, the Xperia X looks similar, but it swaps glass for metal on the back.
Sony takes pride in the visually distinctive style of its phones, and the Xperia X is an evolution rather than a revolution over the design of the Z series. While earlier Sony top devices used a glass back paired with a metal frame, here we have a metal back that feels good and has first-rate looks. The new Xperia X also has less sharp edges and is more comfortable to hold, while the Z5 was a bit too sharp.
Being a 5-inch phone, the Xperia X is also smaller than the 5.2-inch Xperia Z5: it's both shorter and narrower, but a hair thicker. Still, it does not feel bulky per se, but it's not among the slimmest phones either.
Display-wise, both the X and the Z5 come with IPS LCD screens with 1080 x 1920 pixel Full HD resolution. The Z5's 5.2-inch screen is a bit larger than the 5-inch display on the X. Color wise, both look nice, but it seems that the one on the X is a bit dimmer and Sony might have reserved its best display for the higher-end new Xperia X Performance.
Performance, Interface and Memory
Fast and fluid, that's how the Xperia X feels at first sight. Actually, the Xperia Z5 was no slouch either.
Sony has one of the cleanest Android skins that are as close to the pure, stock version of Android as it gets, and while this approach has not changed with the Xperia X, the looks of it have evolved and the most noticeable difference is in the icon styling. Another important change is the fact that the X runs on the newest Android 6, while the Xperia Z5 is just starting to get the update from Android 5.1 to 6.
Of course, there is a big difference in what's under the hood in these two: the newer Xperia X features the Snapdragon 650 system chip, while the Xperia Z5 sports last year's top chip, the Snapdragon 810.
And while the Snapdragon 650 is the newer chip, it is of the mid-range family, while the 810 - despite being a last year's affair - is a top-end affair and outperforms it in benchmarks. Let's leave benchmarks aside, though: those matter to gamers and geeks, for the majority of people it is the fluidity and speed of everyday performance that matters. And you get both fluidity and speed with the new Xperia X, with no stutter, or at least those are our initial impressions.
Both phones have 3GB of RAM and come with 32GB of internal storage, which is plentiful. It's also nice that you can use your microSD cards on both phones to top up storage further.
The new 23-megapixel camera promises to stay focused at all times and new camera interface is nice.
Apart from the refreshed design, the biggest reason that Sony has in convincing you to switch to its new X series is an improved, 23-megapixel camera (with 4:3 default aspect ratio) that supports the fancy new Predictive Hybrid auto-focus technology. Sony showed in various demos how the phone is capable of locking focus on an object and tracking it as it moves. This makes it so much easier to capture moving objects in sharp, good-looking images and sounds like an awesome feature for photography enthusiasts.
The camera interface on the Xperia X has also taken a step forward from the clumsy camera on the Z5, and while the new one is not perfect, it is much cleaner and you have four main modes that you can slide between, somewhat similarly to the interface on the iPhone. This is not all that convenient as you can't immediately start shooting videos if you open the camera in the default mode, and you have to switch to video mode which takes time and you may lose that important moment.
Sony also brings a 13-megapixel camera up front on the Xperia X, which comes with the promise for ultra-detailed selfies, while the Xperia Z5 featured a 5-megapixel front shooter.
Unfortunately, we haven't had a chance to compare the actual quality of the images and video taken by the new Xperia X. We hope to have this done soon.
Sony promises two-day battery life on the Xperia X, but it has a smaller battery than the Z5.
We're surprised that despite being thicker than earlier Sony handsets, the Xperia X does not take on the opportunity to have a larger battery and only comes with a decent, but not big by any means, 2620mAh battery. The Xperia Z5, on the other hand, features a noticeably larger, 2900mAh battery cell.
Sony has traditionally held the leading places when it comes to battery longevity, and the new Xperia X features new smart battery management options. Along with the Doze mode in Android 6, we are hopeful that the X will be able to squeeze out at least the same battery life as the Xperia Z5. We should also say that Sony promises '2-day battery life', which is definitely great, if true.
All in all, the Xperia X has tried to be a restart for Sony with the new branding and all, but still does not feel like a big departure from before. The 5-incher looks undeniably good, features improved camera, but lacks any cool features that would truly spur excitement for it. Maybe that's not a bad thing: it performs fast after all, which cannot be said about every high-end Android phone out there.
Compared with all the futuristic curved-screen phones (cough, Galaxy S7 Edge) and modular design (hey, LG G5) out there, though, we don't see how it could capture the heart of consumers. It just lacks all the hype and excitement around them and their innovative ideas. Well, maybe with its price, but that's not announced yet and the device is scheduled to come out only in the summer of 2016. Let's wait and see.