Introduction


Once again, Sony has unleashed a monster upon the world, this time around called the Xperia XA1 Ultra. It’s the bigger sibling to the XA1, packing most of the same hardware in a larger form factor, with a couple of improvements.

But besides its size, the XA1 Ultra has a few more things going for it: a couple of, as the company calls them, “high performance” cameras, a new yet classic Sony design encased within a metal frame, and an edge-to-edge full HD screen.

But while its size may suggest otherwise, the XA1 Ultra’s specs put it firmly into mid-range territory, which may be a bit of a problem for all the spec chasers out there. So let’s dive in and see whether Sony’s latest phablet holds up under deeper scrutiny:

Design

A classic Sony in a supersized form factor

Like it or not, Sony’s carved its own little niche in terms of smartphone design and is steadfastly sticking to it. This is very much the case with the XA1 Ultra, which carries that classic, ultra-tall Sony look, but with a couple of extra tweaks added on top.

But first, let’s address the elephant in the room – which is, coincidentally, the XA1 Ultra itself. This thing is absolutely gigantic, putting to shame most every other device that dares call itself a phablet. And while this isn’t a bad thing per se, the usability costs associated with such a huge device don’t entirely feel justified.


However, one-handed use isn’t as bad as one would expect it to be – while it could never be called a comfortable experience, it’s still entirely within the realm of possible for more straightforward tasks, such as scrolling through your Twitter feed. The biggest reason for this are the XA1 Ultra’s non-slippery back and sides, a change from the smaller XA1 which makes adjusting your grip to reach the further parts of the screen a less risky experience than it would otherwise be with such a big device.

But while the phone itself sits well in the hand and feels sturdy and solid, it sure doesn’t look so – there’s a ton of seams between the different panels, somewhat diminishing the otherwise good-looking design. As for the buttons, both the volume rocker and the power button did their job well enough. However, the dedicated camera key is just all-around bad – it’s mushy and way too easy to press, while also not providing enough feedback.

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra

Dimensions

6.5 x 3.11 x 0.32 inches

165 x 79 x 8.1 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Sony Xperia XA1

Sony Xperia XA1

Dimensions

5.71 x 2.64 x 0.31 inches

145 x 67 x 8 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)

Dimensions

6.17 x 3.06 x 0.31 inches

156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

6.56 oz (186 g)

Motorola Moto M

Motorola Moto M

Dimensions

5.96 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches

151.35 x 75.35 x 7.85 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra

Dimensions

6.5 x 3.11 x 0.32 inches

165 x 79 x 8.1 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Sony Xperia XA1

Sony Xperia XA1

Dimensions

5.71 x 2.64 x 0.31 inches

145 x 67 x 8 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)

Dimensions

6.17 x 3.06 x 0.31 inches

156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

6.56 oz (186 g)

Motorola Moto M

Motorola Moto M

Dimensions

5.96 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches

151.35 x 75.35 x 7.85 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

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

Display

A surprisingly great panel that actually outclasses Sony’s own flagships in terms of color reproduction

At a whopping 6 inches, the XA1’s display is its centerpiece, debuting a newish visual design for a Sony phone, no side bezels present. Well, almost – turning the display on reveals a pair of sneaky black borders on its sides, which diminish this effect. The panel itself is a full HD one, with a pixel density of 367 ppi, which isn’t the best, but should be more than enough for everyday usage.


But what’s pleasantly surprising here is the XA1 Ultra’s color reproduction, which is actually pretty good for a mid-ranger, thanks to its accurate blues and greens. However, yellows tend to be a bit greenish, while reds are overall a bit weak. Still, compared to, say, the XZ Premium, this panel is better in terms of accurate color reproduction, though it’s still a tad too blueish.

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21 Comments

1. zacsaturday

Posts: 262; Member since: May 09, 2014

I think they've just given up, they can't decide how to design the buttons on the side. First this (silver on the side) then a fingerprint scanner side button and now back to silver button....

5. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

Edgeless design does not allow FPS as power button.

2. tango_charlie

Posts: 347; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

If they had used the SD625 along with a 4000mAh battery the XA1 Ultra would have been the best Midrange device of 2017!

3. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

I feel you... But as it stands, the 2017 Galaxy A7 is the best midrange phone... It's battery life is ridiculously good, with a whopping 115hrs endurance rating at GSMArena, and also great SOT on PhoneArena.

12. tango_charlie

Posts: 347; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

@trojan the A7 has a great battery life but it's quite expensive for a midrange device. IF Xiaomi would offer the mi note 4 in Europe - Germany I would go for that: sd 625, 4gb RAM, 64gb storage and a monster 4100mah battery for under 200 us dollar.

6. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

Mediatek CPU's cost half. P20 is a bit better than SD625

13. tango_charlie

Posts: 347; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

@lumberjack indeed the Mediatek SOC is faster in bench marks but in every day usage you will hardly see a difference (maybe except for gaming) the SD 625 on the other hand is quite power efficient.

7. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

I beg your pardon...? Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 has "BOTH"; A 14nm Snapdragon 625 and slightly 'BIGGER' 4,100mAh battery and it cost just... $200...! Oh well, G'Day!

11. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2482; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Except the Redmi Note 4 doesn't have a great camera and I've heard from people who have bought the device have stated that the battery has problems with charging and longevity after about a month of usage.

14. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

best mid-ranger will be Mi6 or OP5..

4. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

Haven't read yet.. I bet PA said bad about cam, that front cam is not better than i7+'s ... Lets read...

8. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra with ultra bezels...? Ha! G'Day!

9. drahcir02

Posts: 102; Member since: Mar 03, 2016

tard.

10. Mr.mobile

Posts: 130; Member since: Mar 09, 2017

woooo far just 2700mah battery 10Hours of SOT great sony and mediatek just imagine if this phone comes with 4000mah battery

15. rsiders

Posts: 1996; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Isn't the pixel density better than that of the iPhone?

16. dil2abu

Posts: 315; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

PA is so simple. If PA see SONY they give 7 :)

17. thechangeassociates

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 11, 2017

Recently, I bought a Sony Xperia XZ Premium and I love its performance and efficiency in terms of operations and battery. I further purchased another Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra which categorized as mid-range phone. I love this XA1 Ultra very much too; for its big screen and value for the money - which made available of its HD resolution screen, 4GB Ram and sufficient internal storage of 64GB (as compared to XA1 - its younger sibling). I love Sony phone products, in particularly these two new phones (Xperia XZ Premium and Xperia XA1 Ultra).

18. Furbal unregistered

Just picked up the US version today as well. So far this is a killer phone, although I wish it was $50 cheaper and used usb-pd so more chargers would work with it. Amazing screen, decent enough camera. Performance is surprisingly good. On pace for 7 hours SOT for the first charge. Only real desire is that is had double tap to wake.

19. siddha05

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 20, 2017

Everywhere I read issues with the battery life on the XA1 Ultra [Amazon and some other sites], but Phonearena has rated this as "Excellent" [better than many of the premium/top end phones based on their measurement methodology!!!]. Did anybody else notice that and were you surprised by this at all after purchasing the phone? The phone is really tempting to get - a phablet in gold!!!

20. siddha05

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 20, 2017

I got the phone and sure enough the battery life is anything but disappointing! It's pretty good!

21. markusinfinite

Posts: 80; Member since: Aug 05, 2016

Battery life is very good. I always have stamina mode enabled though,
Xperia XA1 Ultra
  • Display 6.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP / 16 MP front
  • Processor MediaTek Helio P20, Octa-core, 2300 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2700 mAh(11.88h 3G talk time)

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