Interface and Functionality

Sony uses a simple skin with some peculiarities and a bad keyboard.


Like all Sony phones, the affordable Xperia XA features the light and generally non-intrusive Sony custom skin. On the XA, it runs on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the current and up-to-date version of Google’s platform.

The interface runs mostly smoothly in daily tasks, but if you throw a new app at it, it can get stuttery and heavier apps and games will also pose a challenge.

There are a few puzzling peculiarities with Sony’s skin: unlocking the display happens with a swipe to the side or up, but if you swipe up, the actual animation shows the frame sliding to the side rather than up. Moving an app shortcut from the app drawer to the home panel is also more complicated than it has to be: you have to first slide the icon to a hard-to-see area on the top of the screen and only then place it on the home screen. Opening essential apps like the phone dialer and messages takes a while and you’re staring at a blank screen for a second or so every time. Little details like these go a long way in confusing users and compromising the experience.

Then, there are notifications and vibrations. The Xperia XA vibrates with a very strange and annoying pattern, its vibrations are intense and stress-inducing, even for the smallest of notifications.

We are also not big fans of the Sony on-screen keyboard: Sony uses SwiftKey and we just don’t find this keyboard on par with the fast and accurate typing experience on Apple and Samsung devices. We found ourselves typing slower than usual and making way too many typos.

On a positive note, you have nice customization options on the Xperia XA via Sony's “What's New” app. It features original skins built around a variety of themes, but you'll also find new styles tailored to Sony-produced video games and movies. Very few of these themes are available for free download, but those that are paid cost just a few bucks and are quite nice.

Processor, Performance and Memory

Mostly fast enough in daily use, but heavier tasks and larger documents make it stutter. Some apps like the dialer and messaging open with an annoying delay.

The Xperia XA is powered by the budget MediaTek Helio P10 system chip. This is an octa-core chip featuring 8 low-power Cortex A53 cores, 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM and built on the 28nm manufacturing process.

The chip delivers enough to have the phone running well for the most part, but there is a slight delay in launching essential apps like the dialer and we had the phone freeze with heavier apps like Google Docs.

Of course, you should not expect the Xperia XA to crush the benchmarks: it falls behind Snapdragon 808 phones like the Nexus 5X on most benchmarks, and its big weakness lies in single-core demanding tasks, where the weak A53 cores fall short.

Graphics are taken care of by the Mali T-860 MP2 GPU running at up to 700MHz. Again, this is not a perfect phone for games that are usually the most demanding type of content on a smartphone. Still, most simpler games ran fine on the Xperia XA, and you’d be able to run even the more graphically demanding ones at a slightly lower than ideal frame rate.

Internal storage comes in at 16GB on the XA, of which around 10GB are available to the end user. Luckily, you can also add a microSD card to expand that storage.


AnTuTu Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA 47445
Google Nexus 5X 53178
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 35638.33
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 75698
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA 1206.33
Google Nexus 5X 2161
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 1115
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 2574
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA 3243
Google Nexus 5X 4220
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 1944
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 4217
JetStream Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA 27.955
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 49.425
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA 28
Google Nexus 5X 38
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 14
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 32
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA 15
Google Nexus 5X 16
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 5.6
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 9.4

Internet and Connectivity

4G LTE connectivity and mobile Chrome as the pre-installed browser is a nice combo.

Chrome is the default and only browser pre-installed on the Sony Xperia XA, and we’re glad that it’s there and we don’t have to deal with nonsensical browsers. Chrome allows you to easily sync your bookmarks across all of your devices, including desktop and other platforms, it features a convenient touch interface with cards and the always useful reminder to shut down any open incognito tabs.

In terms of 4G LTE bands, they vary as the Xperia XA comes in different flavors for different markets. While it supports all major bands for Europe, it seems to be severely limited in its U.S. model.

In the United States, you can order the XA on Amazon and it comes with 4G LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, and 20. This means that the XA does not support band 4 and 17, and the latter is essential for good AT&T LTE connection. On T-Mobile, it lacks bands 4 and 12, which are both key to a good LTE connection. So chances are that you won’t get full 4G LTE support with the Xperia XA in the U.S.

In terms of other connectivity, you also have Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC support.

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39 Comments

2. jesus_sheep

Posts: 279; Member since: Apr 18, 2015

Hopeless from Sony. All the three phones in the X series are of the same size and design offering nothing different except the internals which the average consumer couldn't care less about. I hope they bring new set of phones this fall. This could be their very last chance.

3. libra89

Posts: 2300; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I turned off ABP just to comment on this. I wanted to make a note that the version that B&H Photo is selling has support for bands 12 and 17, so the point on LTE isn't fully correct. That aside, the review has made me so sad. I had the 5x, which was cool but felt too tall for me and the fact that the XA sucks is a bummer. I was waiting for this phone, seems like I was waiting to be disappointed. I'm waiting on 2 more reviews from my other tech sites before I decide to throw in the towel. I really wanted it to be a little 5" screen savior because sometimes my hands get tired from holding a 5.2" phone. The pricing seemed to be right originally, but seeing that this is the performance and that the 5x has better battery life over this. Welp, not as interested.

12. buccob

Posts: 2977; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

The Nubia Z11 Mini seems better in comparison

20. libra89

Posts: 2300; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I'll check it out thanks. If it doesn't have the bands I need, it will be dead for me. I like my Robin a lot but sometimes I get tired of holding it and would like something smaller. Edit: I checked it out and the bands suck for the USA. :/

35. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 926; Member since: May 07, 2014

Thank you for letting me know, it was ABP which was blocking me from commenting here. I have been trying to comment for the last couple of weeks but the text field wouldn't appear.

36. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 926; Member since: May 07, 2014

The Nexus 5x is better in many ways. I don't like how it looks though.

37. Jairudy

Posts: 13; Member since: Apr 14, 2015

Thanks for the input, but consider SONY still sells 40% of market in Japan. They will prosper, but losing T Mobile in US very bad. There were the M4 and M5 as cheaper models, before Z3+, Z4 . This phone will help SONY sell in countries where cheaper needed. This Commenter Libra89 states above, there are models with LTE support,

5. FlySheikh

Posts: 444; Member since: Oct 02, 2015

That was a pretty low score

6. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

meh.. should be 0.5/10 they re-used this ugly design for years and looks at that massive bezels, pffft and look at that crappy spec, I bet they make huge profit for each of this product just to make their investor smile

7. foxfoxfox

Posts: 23; Member since: Jul 10, 2016

profit per phone will be so high

24. cheetah2k

Posts: 2275; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

It would want to be, because they won't sell many....

15. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

Are you asking to make the phone curvy like all manufacturer's like Samsung, LG, HTC? Everyone doesn't like curvy phones. Like me.

27. phichart

Posts: 335; Member since: May 03, 2014

but most people like it... if sony do curvy screen phone lots of people will buy it for sure.. but on the other hand the price will even higher than Samsung...

8. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I know you can be fearless in your reviews but 5.5 ! You should be called BA . It stands for bash arena.

29. Ray.S

Posts: 459; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

5.5 is actually a pretty decent score. It means 'about average'. This is not harsh at all.

30. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Now I doubt "about your decency" even more .

9. Swordylove

Posts: 209; Member since: Jun 27, 2015

I had hope for Sony. I like the that signature look of their phones, contrary to other people's complaints of "same old design". But Sony has really dug out the last pile of dirt out of their grave hole this time. Especially with their outrageous pricing. Sony Mobile can just die now. Really, please just die.

10. PenTiltoKet

Posts: 552; Member since: May 18, 2016

Sony made the biggest mistake of using the MTK Helio P10. They should follow Asus doing a trio SD... SD 625 for mid, SD 652 mid-high & SD 820 high end. (FYI, Asus Zenfone 3 with SD 625 has a 60K Antutu score, more than this 40K+ antutu of Helio P10)

11. ryq24

Posts: 875; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Sony just can no longer compete in the mobile phone segment. All the phones they release are going to be compared to the cheaper but better specs Chinese phones and they will lose all the time. I am a Sony fan but maybe it's time to close shop if they have no answer to the fast rising Chinese phonemakers or else they will just continue to bleed.

25. cheetah2k

Posts: 2275; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

In Australia, I'd compare this to say an Oppo F1 - but I'd chose the Oppo because it's $200 cheaper than the Sony XA, and with essentially the same specs (720p screen, etc)..

13. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

I don't agree with phone arena about the camera being not good. I saw many reviews on YouTube. Everyone reviewer says camera is better than Samsung J7 2016. I must say battery life is hopeless. The top bezel should have been little smaller. And ofcourse it is stupid really not to have used atleast snapdragon 617. Really stupid of sony. No custom roms atleast like m4 aqua. Atleast phone doesn't overheat. I am looking forward to buy a secondary phone for normal use.i wanted the XA. But seems like i will buy M5 ot Zenaphone.3.

14. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

Haha PA says overstaturated colors. I wonder why? The display offers same amoled like display quality on a lcd. It is good. Then PA has to brand every Samsung Galaxy phone to have unrealistic colors. Quite funny. Lol I would have given a 6.5 Btw sony said Xperia XA and E5 have a battery life bug on marshmallow. They will fix it they told.

16. bhanushali_p

Posts: 20; Member since: Apr 05, 2012

I own this phone, And I disagree with PA on several aspects. The Camera- Apart from some cold looking pics, the camera is actually very good. Video is Normal and could have been better. The sound from speakers is not loud but its way better with the quality than iphone when I compared it(Believe me it is true). Call reception is also much much better and comparable to iphone (6s). Display ?? Well Iphone seems a joke in front of it. Yes iphone was better with the Gamma Values but was way yellowish with the whites and no options to correct it(atleast you could set the temperature with your own) and XA looked much livelier and better. Battery life is joke though, and iphone easily managed to beat it. Now for the PA's part, I know this is a serious allegation, but I believe PA actually bashes Sony too hard and praises iphone like they are paying for the praises. I have certainly noticed that Sony always had some better Mid to High end models that could even beat the flagships from other companies. But its a pattern that PA never reviews those phones and Skips them for good (Be it Xperia M5, Xperia C5, Xperia E4) and now they did reviewed XA, their review contradicts with every other reviews.

17. drahcir02

Posts: 102; Member since: Mar 03, 2016

EXACTLY +1

18. Amroze

Posts: 597; Member since: Jul 04, 2016

Exactly +1.

21. libra89

Posts: 2300; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Thank you for your input as someone who actually owns it. Much appreciated. It concerns me that both this site and GSMArena had poor reviews for this phone.

32. Djz89

Posts: 447; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

gsmarena didnt have that bad review for this phone.

33. libra89

Posts: 2300; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Fair point, but they did say that there are other options that are a bit better for the same money. That aside, both GSMarena and Phone Arena said that the battery life is kind of sad. That is what I probably zeroed on as a commonality.

28. Djz89

Posts: 447; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

I agree!

31. foxfoxfox

Posts: 23; Member since: Jul 10, 2016

because sony lcd come from samsung

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

Xperia XA
  • Display 5.0" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor MediaTek Helio P10, Octa-core, 2000 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2300 mAh(11.3h talk time)

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