Sony Xperia X Performance Review

Introduction


It's a new day for Sony, as the company turns the spotlight from the Xperia Z models that for so long dominated its smartphone lineup to welcome a new series of handsets, to this year's Xperia X family. And while last year may have left you wondering if the Z5 or the Z5 Premium was supposed to be the real flagship, in 2016 there's an unmistakable king of this smartphone mountain, in the form of the Xperia X Performance.

Sony Xperia X Performance Review
Sony says that it has a “new vision” for its most prominent smartphones, and while the company's trying to show just how fresh it can keep things with the introduction of some new branding, as well as rethinking a few design details, are we really witnessing a rebirth of the Xperia smartphone as we know it? Has Sony made the right decisions to make the Xperia X Performance an attractive option in a year full of some stiff handset competition? We've spent the past several days getting to know the new phone in the aim of finding out.

In the box:

  • Sony Xperia X Performance
  • Micro USB cable
  • Fast charging adapter
  • Quick-start guide

Design

First impressions aren't everything

Sony Xperia X Performance Review

In a world where far too many handsets look the better part of identical to each other, Sony's managed to stand out from the pack with phone designs that are distinctly the company's own. Boxy handsets with clean lines and appliance-like looks are almost the Volvos of the smartphone world, and with the Xperia X Performance, the manufacturer manages to stay true to its roots while still experimenting with new materials.

Gone is the Xperia Z5's heavy reliance on glass, as the Xperia X Performance picks up a handsome brushed aluminum back panel. It looks really nice, keeping the same general component layout of last year's phone while trying on a new facade. And visually, it works really well. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite feel as premium as it looks, and from the way that metal back comes across as perilously thin to the touch, and the way it reverberates so easily when the phone's speakers are engaged, we found ourselves wishing the Xperia X Performance's hardware gave the impression of being a little more robust.

Sony Xperia X Performance Review
Sony Xperia X Performance Review
Sony Xperia X Performance Review

Sony comes very close to making a beautiful blemish-free phone, with curved-edge glass, and a largely unbroken band of metal-ish plastic that circles the handset's edge. But there are hints scattered about that things didn't come together quite perfectly, from a headphone jack that's raised just enough to catch your finger when grasping the otherwise-smooth edge (in a way that feels more “poor tolerances” than “we're helpfully letting you find the headphone jack without looking”), to the way light plays off the corners of that brushed metal back – are those shadows or open seams?

Our uncertainty about these assembly issues is only magnified by the handset's water resistance. Sony doesn't call a ton of attention to the feature, but the Xperia X Performance is indeed IP68 ingress rated – the same as phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 – meaning that it can survive a quick (and sometimes a little lengthier) dip. That the phone does this without Sony's penchant for little flaps everywhere is a welcome evolution. We just wish Sony went a little further to convince us that the phone's build is really up to the task.

Some of these are more minor issues, perhaps, but they're all the more frustrating because of how Sony otherwise did a really nice job at building a phone that looks worthy of its flagship position.

One thing we should point out here is that the US model of the X Performance actually lacks a fingerprint scanner – the side power button is just that – a power button and nothing more. Internationally, that same power button also doubles as a fingerprint scanner, identically to previous Xperia flagships. Sony explains that its desire to bring the X Performance on time to the US market has caused this omission, but boy is it ridiculous for a 2016 flagship phone to not offer a fingerprint scanner!


Sony Xperia X Performance

Sony Xperia X Performance

Dimensions

5.67 x 2.76 x 0.34 inches

144 x 70 x 8.7 mm

Weight

5.82 oz (165 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Dimensions

5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.36 oz (152 g)

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia Z5

Dimensions

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches

146 x 72 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.43 oz (154 g)

LG G5

LG G5

Dimensions

5.88 x 2.91 x 0.29 inches

149.4 x 73.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.61 oz (159 g)

Sony Xperia X Performance

Sony Xperia X Performance

Dimensions

5.67 x 2.76 x 0.34 inches

144 x 70 x 8.7 mm

Weight

5.82 oz (165 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Dimensions

5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.36 oz (152 g)

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia Z5

Dimensions

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches

146 x 72 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.43 oz (154 g)

LG G5

LG G5

Dimensions

5.88 x 2.91 x 0.29 inches

149.4 x 73.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.61 oz (159 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

Functional but hardly limit-pushing

Sony Xperia X Performance Review
When you're staring down a page of Xperia X Performance tech specs, there's one component that jumps out at you: a five-inch 1080x1920 px LCD panel. Yep, that's a bit smaller than the 5.2-inch Xperia Z5, while the resolution is lower than what most other 2016 flagships have gone for. However, considering the size of the panel, we don't really see much fault with Sony using 1080x1920 px resolution here.

To its credit, Sony's Triluminos tech largely delivers this time around, and image enhancement modes allow users to boost sharpness and saturation even further. The screen's also one of the brightest we've looked at in quite a while, comparing favorably there to the iPhone 6s. But in normal viewing mode, at least, color accuracy was a little off.

Really, this screen is all about trade-offs: it's not extremely high-res, nor maybe the most accurate, but it's bright and offers some impressive viewing angles.



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67 Comments

1. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Sony took a u-turn this year...damn. Its ironic to believe the Z5 is better than what the X series could do.

16. bossman

Posts: 264; Member since: Jan 27, 2016

Some reviewers tested the camera of the Z5 against the X and the Z5 was better. Personally I like the glass back of the Z5 better.

22. Jango

Posts: 372; Member since: Oct 24, 2014

This phone is worse than the Z3 that I have. They haven't done anything better since then. A great shame because they can easily do MUCH better.

26. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

The Z3 series really is the pinnacle of Sony phones. Other than the slightly better camera on the Z5 series (which is actually pretty good when you test it for yourself), the Z3 series defined what Sony phones were all about. the X series is a mess, and I will not be going back to Sony unless something serious happens.

38. romeo1

Posts: 807; Member since: Jan 06, 2012

Tbh i was thinking the same thing but after having played with the x it's not all that bad. The screen looks really good amd it's very smooth but i still believe it's priced to high. Probably the same with the performance. I hope they'll continue with the z line

63. BLikens1619

Posts: 67; Member since: Apr 12, 2008

The Z2 was the best Sony phone ever. I know because I've have both.

53. Amir1 unregistered

I'm not sure what you're smoking.Sony mobile took a u-turn ever since they took over SE.

54. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Ericson handset where a laggy mess.

2. SenorThrottles

Posts: 284; Member since: Dec 23, 2015

I wonder when Sony will actually try to make compelling smartphones again

14. Subie

Posts: 2295; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

I think if they just priced it right this phone would be more compelling. So much of this phone seems good - it's just not at what people would call a top flagship in 2016.

31. Furbal unregistered

This needs to be cheaper than the OP3/Axon 7 to compete

3. Subie

Posts: 2295; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

6.3... Can't wait to read some of the comments now.

4. kiko007

Posts: 7489; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

You aren't the only one lol :D.

55. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Well for one time its deserve this or max 7.0

5. Kumar123 unregistered

Yikes. Disappointing phone. Shame that they didn't improve from Z5.

6. adecvat

Posts: 623; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

It is not smartphone, it's joke.

7. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

The biggest mistake was removing Z series. If they released Z5 family in 2016 instead of last year it would be very competitive to other brands

8. FlySheikh

Posts: 443; Member since: Oct 02, 2015

Was expecting that score considering the underwhelming features of this phone.

10. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

The reason behind the 6.8 score... 1. Fingerprint scanner (US) 2. PRICE !!!!!! 3. No 4k shoot,less ram

37. AmashAziz

Posts: 2886; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Its 6.3.

12. Barney_stinson

Posts: 672; Member since: May 30, 2016

Hey!hey!hey! Agree or disagree but i can win any contest!! When i say this:-- Sony , you are turning into s**t!!

13. ryq24

Posts: 874; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Am a Sony fan having owned the Xperia Z, M, L, C3 , C4 and now Z5 premium and find this review spot on. Am so disappointed with Sony. Especially their pricing.

65. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

since you have the Z5 Premium what do you think? is it a device to be considered at this point in the game? or look elsewhere?

15. kiko007

Posts: 7489; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Wow, I shocked at how level-headed the comments are. I think the score is relatively justified considering the price of the device. It's funny, as much money as Sony has at their disposal, they can't seem to get mobile right. I find it quite odd, considering how well other non-mobile oriented companies like Samsung and LG have found a decent deal of success. Back to the drawing board I suppose :D.

30. kylebelle

Posts: 74; Member since: May 03, 2016

yeahhh. i was expecting alot of hate towards phonearena for this.

56. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Hate toward PA is only when its valid. This prove everything we been saying PA are often biased. Still this time they where spot on and its good to say it as well.

17. Xperia14

Posts: 1205; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Finally a good review which I agree with, well done PA. While there's nothing really wrong with the phone itself, Sony f**ked it up with this one. -they announced it back at MWC, that is four months ago! -it's almost a donwgrade over the Z5 in terms of battery, the removal of FM radio and no 4K recording, and heat issues at 1080p are unacceptable for a SD820 phone. Luckily they improved the screen and software though. But with Sony's camera expertise they should be able to blow Samsung out of the water. -price, price, price It's like they're not even trying. I hope that they will get it right with the next Xperia flagship if there will be any, otherwise I'll be looking elsewhere unfortunately.

18. Shadocx4

Posts: 134; Member since: Oct 20, 2014

How is the screen improved from the Z5? What i saw is, worse brightness, worse color temperature and worse delta RGMCMY and Grayscale.

19. perry1234

Posts: 630; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

Sony has camera expertise only in camera hardware and not software . Their camera software has been criticised on different, unrelated websites.

52. KONICHIWA-ANNYONG unregistered

You are literally the biggest Sony fanboy I personally know... ...but you are kind of thinking wth your brain this time. Well done.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Xperia X Performance
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2700 mAh(15.67h 3G talk time)

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