Sony Xperia XA Ultra Review

Introduction


Beginning in early 2016, Sony transitioned away from the exclusively high-end, flagship Z line, to the more inclusive X series, with products spanning the echelons beyond mid-range. For months to come, we won't know if this re-branding exercise will positively affect the company's bottom line. But we're now in a pretty good position to guess.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra Review
Say hello to the Sony Xperia XA Ultra - the last of the X line to stumble upon our doorstep. It's a gigantic 6-incher, encased within a metal frame, with a pronounced, high-resolution selfie camera with flash, and featuring some pretty decent hardware underneath.

With a $369.99 sticker price, however, our prodding and nudging best reveal some unexpected strengths, lest it follows its brethren into the strictly average category.

Design

Signature Sony, larger canvass

So the XA Ultra is huge. Like, really, really big. And heavy, too, tipping the scales at 6.7 oz (190 g). Combined, these factors equal a monstrous device that isn't for the faint-hearted and is firmly entrenched in phablet land.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra Review
Sony Xperia XA Ultra Review
Sony Xperia XA Ultra Review
Sony Xperia XA Ultra Review
Sony Xperia XA Ultra Review

Beyond its dimensions, the XA Ultra is yet another familiar Sony face, built on the principles of its rectangular design philosophy. The phone is protected by a solid, metal frame, with the display up front almost floating out of it thanks to those extra slim side bezels. The rest of the phone is made out of polycarbonate.

On the right, Sony has cleverly positioned the volume rocker and power key, both of which are easily accessible even when you're holding this monster phone with just one paw. Better yet, tactile feedback and travel times are excellent, and we're including the physical shutter key here, as well.

Overall? Absolutely no surprises here except, perhaps, the Cyclops eye up front that is the selfie camera, along with the Lime Gold coloring of our review unit. This is strictly personal opinion, but it comes across as tacky, so make sure to check out the white and black options as well.


Sony Xperia XA Ultra

Sony Xperia XA Ultra

Dimensions

6.46 x 3.11 x 0.33 inches

164 x 79 x 8.4 mm

Weight

7.13 oz (202 g)

Google Nexus 6P

Google Nexus 6P

Dimensions

6.27 x 3.06 x 0.29 inches

159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.28 oz (178 g)

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)

Dimensions

6.37 x 3.19 x 0.29 inches

161.7 x 80.9 x 7.4 mm

Weight

7.05 oz (200 g)

Xiaomi Mi Max

Xiaomi Mi Max

Dimensions

6.81 x 3.48 x 0.3 inches

173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5 mm

Weight

7.16 oz (203 g)

Sony Xperia XA Ultra

Sony Xperia XA Ultra

Dimensions

6.46 x 3.11 x 0.33 inches

164 x 79 x 8.4 mm

Weight

7.13 oz (202 g)

Google Nexus 6P

Google Nexus 6P

Dimensions

6.27 x 3.06 x 0.29 inches

159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.28 oz (178 g)

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)

Dimensions

6.37 x 3.19 x 0.29 inches

161.7 x 80.9 x 7.4 mm

Weight

7.05 oz (200 g)

Xiaomi Mi Max

Xiaomi Mi Max

Dimensions

6.81 x 3.48 x 0.3 inches

173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5 mm

Weight

7.16 oz (203 g)

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



Display

An extremely bright display with disappointing color accuracy

Sony Xperia XA Ultra Review

This being a massive phone, the 6-inch, 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution LCD display is obviously the highlight of the show. But right off the bat, we were disappointed with its quality.

And our scientific measurements prove it.

Not only is the Ultra's display not good, it's actually downright disappointing. We start off our unpleasant journey through its properties with an extremely cold color temperature of 9400K, significantly twisting color reproduction towards blue—and most visibly, whites and grays. That's not a surprise, given how much blue dominates between the primary red, green, and blue, with the former two being seriously underrepresented—and red ridiculously so.

Average gamma, at 2.61, is also consistently off target across the brightness spectrum, and so is overall color accuracy, which is simply average. Speaking of brightness, at least that the XA Ultra's display has going for it: over 600 nits at the top end, which is just excellent, and 5 nits at its lowest, which is also great.

In the end, what should be the XA Ultra's defining feature ends up disappointing. Sure, it's very much usable outdoors, but color calibration is seriously problematic.



FEATURED VIDEO

19 Comments

1. libra89

Posts: 2024; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I just wish that Sony would do better. Kind of disappointed in their final productions. This phone seems to be less of a joke though, when comparing it to the other X series phones.

2. Barney_stinson

Posts: 672; Member since: May 30, 2016

MI MAX can eat this in breakfast!!

11. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

MiMax get 2x performance score, and 2x battery life compared to this phone, at the same pricetag... and yet, they recommend A9 and OP3, lol..

15. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

Compare with, not recommend. I've been a fan of Xiaomi's for a long time, but until they start selling in the West legit, they have little relevance for buyers in the States.

3. pyradark

Posts: 895; Member since: Jun 10, 2012

If there will be no premium 2.0, i have to go with this one. I miss having z ultra, if only tge battery and camera is great plus as loud as this thing

4. drahcir02

Posts: 102; Member since: Mar 03, 2016

not bad

5. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Good job Sony, the only DECENT phone you managed to dish out this year.

8. Djz89

Posts: 418; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

E5 also is pretty good

6. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I have been waiting for a Z Ultra replacement but bought a Z5 Premium in the mean time. Other than the inaccurate colors of the screen this looks like an OK phone. But is this really worth it just for a .5 inch bigger screen?

7. Settings

Posts: 2940; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

That side bezels tho, very sleek.

9. Osinaga

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 15, 2016

Looks great I love that design and cameras

10. enzotarece

Posts: 87; Member since: Aug 14, 2013

Still gonna get this phone oh yeaaah

12. Avenger337

Posts: 91; Member since: Apr 14, 2013

I hope that in the future Sony stop using MediaTek processors. They are rubbish compared to Qualcomm and hopefully in the future the Japanese company knows how to make a mobile midrange much value.

13. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

They want saving cost.

14. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

true, P10 in this phone is just rubbish.. just look at meizu m3 note comparison in anandtech, it have same processor, and get terrible score on 3d benchmark, it cant even run some game properly..http://www.anandtech.com/show/10463/xiaomi-redmi-note-3-meizu-m3-note-reviews/7

16. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

The P10 is not rubbish. Games, even hard-hitters, ran just fine. Sure, not flagship-level frame rate, but fine.

17. ahmad87

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 20, 2016

the worst phone you may have. if you are looking for a camera go and buy one camera and not sony xpira xa ultra. heating when using WIFI !!!!!! hanging when receive a phone call and you are opining another application. can't answer it bad marital

18. ROIBBA

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 04, 2017

This product has 2 major problems... 0) WIFI is weak. I got this phone just a week it came to my country. this was my first impression after I filled up all the warranty notes at Sony Store, the next few hours I need to connect to my mobile / pocket wifi. and believe me, i have a pretty hard time connecting to it. though after few weeks and months they got more system updates. still they never corrected it. I have my other phones with me but wifi connectivity is good and have no problem but his phone sucks at it. This phone and my pocket wifi is place side by side but the wifi bar is weak and interment. 1) it says 16GB internal but it is only 10Gb usable in total. so you need to very very very careful on saving storage. Though it has option to transfer photos / videos to SD, it is just up to that. While not all android app supports moving to SD, then you have that very big storage problem. 2) takes 3 minutes to BOOT. imagine that. with the useless Xperia logo animation. Good thing they removed the PIN before you boot. RESOLVE the wifi.

19. ROIBBA

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 04, 2017

RESOLVE the wifi.
Xperia XA Ultra
  • Display 6.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 21.5 MP / 16 MP front
  • Processor MediaTek Helio P10, Octa-core, 2000 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2700 mAh(11.9h 3G talk time)

Latest Stories