Interface and functionality

Near-stock Nougat with a couple of welcome additional features


Out of the box, the XA1 Ultra comes with Android 7.0 Nougat, and Sony once again brings a near-stock experience, though its 2009-era iconography is still in a desperate need of an overhaul. There’s a few great built-in apps that replace the stock Android ones, such as Album and Music, which look basic on the surface, but actually offer a surprising number of features packaged in a snappy and responsive user interface.

There’s also a couple of nice tweaks designed for the XA1 Ultra’s large form factor: the one-handed mode, which shrinks the whole screen into a smaller, easier-to-reach window, and the “display size” setting, which resizes all on-screen elements, making them bigger or smaller, depending on how you prefer to make use of the screen real estate.

What isn’t good, however, is the What’s New app, which essentially acts like an unnecessary second Play Store of sorts, and by default plasters you with unsolicited notifications (read: ads) about apps. They can be disabled, thankfully, but the app itself cannot.

Processor and memory

Mid-ranger isn’t an insult any more

It’s 2017, and we’ve finally reached the point at which even a mid-range MediaTek chipset like the Helio P20 can perform sufficiently well for most, if not all of your daily tasks. Sony’s Xperia UX is fast and responsive, with smooth animations and pretty much no hiccups to speak of – something a few manufacturers could stand to learn from.

This is no doubt helped by the XA1 Ultra’s 4 GB RAM (a slight increase from its smaller sibling’s 3 GB), but, this being a mid-ranger and all, you still shouldn’t expect that much in the graphics department – even a simplistic-looking game such as The Trail, for example, has troubles running smoothly. Also, launching or switching apps can sometimes take a second or two, but this problem only rears its head when the device is under heavier load, which is pretty much par for the course.


The phone comes with 32 GB of internal storage, of which about 24 GB are available to the user, though that storage can be expanded via а microSD card.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 63406.33
Sony Xperia XA1 62167
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 59664
JetStream Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 27.651
Sony Xperia XA1 27.973
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 31.804
Motorola Moto M 25.826
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 21.33
Sony Xperia XA1 32
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 33
Motorola Moto M 18
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 6.6
Sony Xperia XA1 15
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 9
Motorola Moto M 5.2
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 1264.33
Sony Xperia XA1 1302
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 435
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 854.5
Sony Xperia XA1 857.66
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 764
Motorola Moto M 741
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra 3732
Sony Xperia XA1 3714
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 3808
Motorola Moto M 2487

Connectivity


Being a GSM-only device, the XA1 Ultra won’t work on Sprint and Verizon’s CDMA networks, even though it covers all of the Big Four’s LTE bands. Just like its predecessor, it supports NFC, making mobile payments an entirely real possibility. However, the USB connector on the bottom is now, thankfully, of the USB-C type, finally bringing the new, reversible standard to Sony's mid range.

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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: 2697; 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: 2340; 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: 2697; 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: 1935; 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: 78; 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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