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Sony Xperia XA1 Review

Sony Xperia XA1

Posted: , by Daniel P. Daniel P.




Oh, Sony, your 20+ MP cameras are hit or miss

Sony Xperia XA1 Review
Camera UI - Sony Xperia XA1 Review
Camera UI - Sony Xperia XA1 Review
Camera UI - Sony Xperia XA1 Review
Camera UI - Sony Xperia XA1 Review

Camera UI

Given the midrange category, it is a pleasant surprise to see a 23 MP camera adorning the back of the Sony Xperia XA1, as well as a generous 8 MP shooter up front. The high-res sensor comes with small pixels that are soak in less light, so we wouldn't be writing home about it before we've looked at the pics first. The camera app offers a multitude of shooting modes and color effects with the trendy swipe gesture navigation between them, but most of the time you'd likely be shooting in the default Superior Auto mode that is set in a 16:9 (20MP) format.

Image quality

A typical Sony affair, the 23 MP sensor is hit or miss when it comes to color presentation or dynamic range in auto shooting mode. The image colors can be colder than reality, and a bit too saturated. One and the same scene can be exposed a step brighter or darker in the span of a second shot, depending on how the algorithms fall, and the phone often overexposes brighter spots too much, but overall it performs in sync with its midrange category by saving us any terrible exposure mishaps. There are too many pixels on this tiny sensor to keep noise in check, and it shows in frame sections like clear blue sky. The post-processing isn't very aggressive in terms of sharpness, and the pictures, especially indoor and low-light ones look a bit too soft for our liking, yet abnormal noise levels still rear their ugly head often.

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 1.4
No data
No data
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 1.8
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 1.8
No data
No data
Huawei P10 Lite 1.8
View all


The phone is capable of 1080p recording with 30fps, and that's that. Despite the resolution however, the footage is smudgy and lacking detail. At least panning around isn't too choppy. The SteadyShot software stabilization of Sony does the job in keeping the frame from shaking too much, but all in all, the recorded video footage is very hard to look at.


Sony prides itself in being a media company, not just a gadget maker, and it shows in the excellent Album, Video and Music apps it supplies on its Android handsets. The Album app serves as an alternative to Google Photos gallery that offers clean interface, rich in functions – from editing to Facebook or Instagram integration. Ditto for the music player which gives you minimalistic Material Design UI, but loads of tune categorization options, as well as lyrics display, song recognition, sound modes and equalizer presets.

Last but not least, the video app plays everything thrown at it, is integrated with the Movie Creator editing option, and, in the US, offers the excellent TV guide add-on that offers a visual grid of what's current and incoming on your cable subscription of choice. All in all, a stellar media bunch.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 1.16
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 1.015
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 0.53
Huawei P10 Lite 0.19
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 74
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 77.6
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 75
Huawei P10 Lite 79
View all

  • Options

posted on 15 May 2017, 09:52 1

1. libra89 (Posts: 1012; Member since: 15 Apr 2016)

Sounds like it isn't too bad, just a bit tall.

posted on 15 May 2017, 10:10 3

3. kent-gaga (Posts: 591; Member since: 10 Apr 2012)

Wow I'm impressed by how they almost doubled the batery life compared to the XA
Now I wish if only the pumped it up to 2500mAh and it'd be really nice

posted on 15 May 2017, 11:01

6. libra89 (Posts: 1012; Member since: 15 Apr 2016)

Yeah the XA battery life was terrible. I'm glad that they seemed to have improved that.

posted on 15 May 2017, 10:13 6

4. drahcir02 (Posts: 102; Member since: 03 Mar 2016)

Sony phone = Automatic 8 or lower

posted on 15 May 2017, 10:26 3

5. shamrock_sean (Posts: 31; Member since: 27 Apr 2017)

I have one of these in gold and can tell you the camera quality is great Phone Arena!! I actually for a change found the sharpness from edge to edge way better than older Sony handsets and images have great contrast,colour and dynamic range. As for it being tall it isn't in the hand at all. And call quality is fine with mine,must be your network

posted on 15 May 2017, 11:16

7. cryptonx (Posts: 52; Member since: 05 Jan 2016)

I've read it "Sony's polycrap" which sounds about right

posted on 15 May 2017, 11:20

8. RoBear (Posts: 12; Member since: 23 Nov 2015)

You can get a Xperia X for $250 right now. Is there a single reason to pay $50 more for this?

posted on 15 May 2017, 11:43 1

9. libra89 (Posts: 1012; Member since: 15 Apr 2016)

The camera software has probably improved.

posted on 15 May 2017, 13:52

10. Mr.mobile (Posts: 91; Member since: 09 Mar 2017)

cons far this phone according to me
-Huge top and bottom bezels
-small battery 2300mah
-No fingerprint sensor
-just 720p screen resolution
still costly should be like 200$

posted on 15 May 2017, 15:19 1

11. Lumberjack (Posts: 258; Member since: 04 May 2017)

Android Authority says XA1 takes photos as good as flagships.
Not the only website to say this.

posted on 15 May 2017, 19:22

12. Remmy (Posts: 151; Member since: 31 Jul 2012)

The XA1 looks the freshest among all midrange phones that look like an iPhone clone. Cut the top and bottom bezels and the design will be perfect IMO. I wish they could do the same for the flagship series without relocating the fingerprint/power button.

posted on 15 May 2017, 21:28

14. zenun12 (Posts: 175; Member since: 31 Oct 2016)

It would be a bit difficult for Sony to trim the bezels above and below because
1.) Dat Senzor
2.) L-shaped logic board
3.) Dat Side Bezel

posted on 15 May 2017, 19:56

13. Lumberjack (Posts: 258; Member since: 04 May 2017)

Photos are better than ones from iphone7+

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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.0 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (294 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera23 megapixels
MediaTek helio P20, Octa-core, 2300 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
Size5.71 x 2.64 x 0.31 inches
(145 x 67 x 8 mm)
5.04 oz  (143 g)
Battery2300 mAh, 11.3 hours talk time

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