Sony Xperia XA2 and Xperia XA2 Ultra Review


Looking at sales, Sony hasn't been tremendously successful in the smartphone business, yet it's one of the few major players to remain consistent with its devices, and this has to count for something. The Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra are two of the latest well-rounded, mid-range phones that Sony has in tow for the US market. Both come with the promises of long battery life and spectacular camera performance, and no less importantly, they're among the first Xperia handsets to have functional fingerprint scanners on board – a feature that has been missing from US-bound Sony phones until now. But are the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra worth their salt? There's only one way to find out!

Design



If I have to describe the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra with a single word after having played with both for a week, “solid” is definitely the term I'd use. Looking as sleek as most preceding Sony devices, the two newest mid-range handsets in the company's lineup feel sturdy and masculine. Both phones have a pleasant heft to them, although the 6-inch XA2 Ultra is definitely pushing boundaries with its large dimensions. Not only is the device a bit difficult to handle even with my large hands, it's also rather heavy at 7.80 oz. (221 grams). One thing is for sure: you'll always know if it's in your pocket. I wouldn't call it unwieldy, but the XA2 Ultra definitely required some getting used to.

Meanwhile, the XA2 is much, much easier to handle and operate – even with a single hand – and I vastly preferred it over the Ultra for this reason alone.


When it comes to overall build, Sony has bet on the tried-and-proven combo of glass and aluminum, but the rear of the handsets is made of plastic. Mind you, it's high-quality plastic that feels nice to the touch and keeps smudges at bay, but it's still plastic nonetheless, and this hurts the overall premium aura of the devices. The use of metal is only limited to the top and bottom pieces of the phones' frame.

On the upside, points are awarded for to the presence of a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card slot. But on the other hand, the lack of any water- or dust-resistance is definitely a con in my book. Stereo speakers are also missing: unlike more premium Sony devices, both the XA2 and the XA2 Ultra have settled for single downward-firing ones.

Sony Xperia XA2

Sony Xperia XA2

Dimensions

5.59 x 2.76 x 0.38 inches

142 x 70 x 9.7 mm

Weight

6.03 oz (171 g)

Motorola Moto G5S

Motorola Moto G5S

Dimensions

5.91 x 2.89 x 0.37 inches

150 x 73.5 x 9.5 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

LG G6

LG G6

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

HTC U11 life

HTC U11 life

Dimensions

5.87 x 2.87 x 0.32 inches

149.09 x 72.9 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.01 oz (142 g)

Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra

Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra

Dimensions

6.42 x 3.15 x 0.37 inches

163 x 80 x 9.5 mm

Weight

7.80 oz (221 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)

Motorola Moto G5S Plus

Motorola Moto G5S Plus

Dimensions

6.04 x 3 x 0.37 inches

153.5 x 76.2 x 9.5 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

OnePlus 5T

OnePlus 5T

Dimensions

6.15 x 2.95 x 0.29 inches

156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.71 oz (162 g)

Sony Xperia XA2

Sony Xperia XA2

Dimensions

5.59 x 2.76 x 0.38 inches

142 x 70 x 9.7 mm

Weight

6.03 oz (171 g)

Motorola Moto G5S

Motorola Moto G5S

Dimensions

5.91 x 2.89 x 0.37 inches

150 x 73.5 x 9.5 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

LG G6

LG G6

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

HTC U11 life

HTC U11 life

Dimensions

5.87 x 2.87 x 0.32 inches

149.09 x 72.9 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.01 oz (142 g)

Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra

Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra

Dimensions

6.42 x 3.15 x 0.37 inches

163 x 80 x 9.5 mm

Weight

7.80 oz (221 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)

Motorola Moto G5S Plus

Motorola Moto G5S Plus

Dimensions

6.04 x 3 x 0.37 inches

153.5 x 76.2 x 9.5 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

OnePlus 5T

OnePlus 5T

Dimensions

6.15 x 2.95 x 0.29 inches

156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.71 oz (162 g)

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



Fingerprint scanners



The Xperia XA2 and the XA2 Ultra are the first Sony phones with fingerprint sensors that actually work in the US. Up until now, Sony either disabled or didn't even bother to put biometric sensors on its US-bound devices due to external factors, but this will no longer be the case.

As far as accuracy and speed go, neither the XA2 nor the XA2 Ultra fell short of my expectations – the devices unlock in an instant and hardly ever failed to recognize my fingerprints. Moreover, the scanners are positioned at a convenient spot: just where your index finger would fall when you grab the phone.

Display



As with many Sony devices that we've reviewed over the years, the 5.2-inch display of the Xperia XA2 and the 6-inch screen of the XA2 Ultra have some color accuracy issues. With an extremely cold color temperature, both reproduce whites with a blueish tint – one that's especially noticeable on the XA2. Not all would be bothered by this, but those who are have the option to manually correct the color balance from the Display Settings menu.

While color accuracy leaves a lot to be desired, the screens themselves are not that bad. They are sharp and detailed, with 1080 x 1920 pixels of resolution. They are sufficiently bright and easily legible even under direct sunlight, especially on the XA2 Ultra. Vibrancy and color saturation can be tweaked per the user's heartfelt content within the display menu.

Interface and functionality


Shipping with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, the XA2 and XA2 Ultra roll out with Sony's own Xperia user interface, which brings along some added features and quirks of its own. Aside from Google's stock apps, the phones feature a slew of apps from Sony, including a news aggregator, the PlayStation app, the Xperia Lounge which sends you vouchers, offers, and app suggestions, and Movie Creator which allows you to choose a bunch of photos and clips and have the phone generate a highlights video for you.

Customization continues to be an integral part of the experience – aside from changing the theme, users can also apply any custom icon pack they wish, and even control the DPI of the display to make text and objects bigger or smaller. Some other features that I really dig are the Xperia Assist actions, which allow you to customize device settings on a per-scenario basis, and the single-handed mode that makes the larger-than-life Xperia XA2 Ultra a bit easier to operate. There's even a neat hidden Reachability-like feature that expands the notifications drawer once you tap the virtual home button twice – immensely useful on the XA2 Ultra, but less so on the XA2.

As we mentioned, the fingerprint scanners work fast and reliably, yet I wish Sony employed some kind of fingerprint gestures as these would have further made these Xperia models a bit more user-friendly.

Processor, performance, and memory


The Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 that powers both phones is by no means a flagship-grade chip, but you will probably never notice any stuttering or lag when using the XA2 or XA2 Ultra. Also known for its battery efficiency, the Snapdragon 630 is a capable mid-range chip. Yes, you shouldn't expect extraordinary performance, but the overall snappiness will quite likely please you. The same applies to gaming – even with more demanding games I rarely noticed a significant drop in framerates. To top things off, I never really noticed any overheating after intensive gaming or rigorous multi-tasking.


On the matter of multitasking, the XA2 is only graced with 3GB of RAM while the larger phone has 4GB. In my experience, Sony's memory management is quite good, and even with the lowly amount of 3GB of RAM on deck you can have a healthy amount of apps running without having to be reloaded upon relaunch.

Finally, there are 32GB of native storage on either device, and around 24GB are available to the user right out of the box. Thankfully, the microSD card slot is a boon to users who demand extra storage.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 87158.33
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 86990
Motorola Moto X4 70292
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 65150
HTC U11 life 72679
JetStream Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 24.345
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 24.447
Motorola Moto X4 27.999
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 26.407
HTC U11 life 27.145
GFXBench Car Chase on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 5.96
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 6
Motorola Moto X4 5.8
HTC U11 life 5.3
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 10
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 10
Motorola Moto X4 11
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 6.9
HTC U11 life 9.6
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 1527.33
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 1538.33
Motorola Moto X4 1521
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 1171
HTC U11 life 1437
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 812
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 813
Motorola Moto X4 865
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 851
HTC U11 life 865
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 4177.66
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 4216
Motorola Moto X4 4154
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 4369
HTC U11 life 4179

Connectivity


The Xperia XA2 and the XA2 Ultra support a range of LTE bands, but if you're getting either in the US, you'll only be able to use it on GSM carriers, such as AT&T or T-Mobile. Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, and ac, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, as well as Bluetooth 5.0 are available. The port at the bottom is of the reversible Type-C variety and runs at USB 2.0 speeds.

Camera



The most significant difference between the two phones is the dual front-camera setup on the larger Xperia XA2 Ultra, aided by a front-facing flash. One of the snappers has a 16MP sensor, F/2.0 optics, and a typical, 88-degree field of view, while the other is an 8MP, F/2.4 snapper with a much wider 120-degree lens. There's also optical image stabilization, which definitely helps to eliminate shake for those low-light scenario selfies. Meanwhile, the regular XA2 has none of these bells and whistles – the same 8MP F/2.4 snapper with a 120-degree field-of-view is all you get.

Taking a pic 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 XA2 2
4.3
No data
No data
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 2.2
3.9
No data
No data
Motorola Moto X4 2.71
2.98
825
897
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 1.6
2.22
816
816
HTC U11 life 1.71
1.98
940
905

Selfies


Now, when it comes to selfies, the Xperia XA2 Ultra really shines. With ample detail and great skin tones, selfies almost always turn out Instagram-worthy without any need of further tweaks. The built-in flash is really useful due to the multitude of modes it has, and this doesn't only apply to low-light scenarios: the fill light mode, for example, comes in especially handy in bright daylight conditions when you need that extra light to eliminate unflattering shadows.

Although it lacks a dedicated flash, the XA2 also produces great selfies, and although it lacks that secondary regular camera, it emulates the narrower-selfie mode of the XA2 Ultra with a software solution, simply zooming in to bring the subject closer.

Video


Both the Xperia XA2 and Xperia XA2 Ultra are capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps. Full HD 1080p recording is available in both 30 and 60fps framerates, while slow-motion is available in 120fps at 720p HD resolution.

For the most part, videos turn out pretty detailed, but the dynamic range is not that good and the sound quality could definitely use some improvement. On the upside, auto-focusing speed is very snappy.

Multimedia


As we mentioned, the XA2 and the XA2 Ultra have Bluetooth 5.0, which is a rarity among mid-range devices and a pleasant addition to the fold. Aside from better range, it makes use of the higher-quality wireless audio codecs that arrived with Android Oreo and theoretically deliver better sound.

The built-in loudspeaker has a relatively loud output, but as I mentioned earlier, stereo speakers haven't made the cut. Thankfully, a headphone jack is present for all of us old-schoolers out there.

As far as media consumption goes, there is no HDR video playback support, but don't think that's a big drawback – videos and movies are a joy to watch on either device, especially on the large 6” display of the XA2 Ultra.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 0.28
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 0.28
Motorola Moto X4 0.429
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 0.353
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 79
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 78
Motorola Moto X4 77.5
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 80.3
HTC U11 life 81.1

Battery life & charging speed


Despite the pretty big size difference between the two phones, I find it perplexing that the 3,580mAh battery of the XA2 Ultra is not much larger than the 3,300mAh unit inside the XA2. Both capacities, however, are adequate for devices of this class.

Sony usually nails battery life on its phones, and I'm happy to report that the XA2 and XA2 Ultra lived up to my expectations. In fact, they exceeded them. The smaller XA2 clocked in at 10 hours and 3 minutes in our custom battery test, while the larger XA2 Ultra clicked and ticked for 12 hours and 8 minutes. That easily translates to almost 2 days of moderate to heavy usage, and the good ol' Stamina battery-saving modes are fully capable of increasing that endurance even further. In my experience, a day and a half of frequent usage is pretty much a given with either device, though I'd pick the larger one if I was stranded on a lonely island.

You better leave the phones recharging overnight though, as charging speeds with the regular charger are painfully slow. The included power brick topped up the XA2 to 100% in 2 hours and 38 minutes, while the larger device had to get charged for 3 hours and 6 minutes. If that's too slow for you, Sony will be happy to sell you a fast charger on the side.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Sony Xperia XA2 10h 3 min (Excellent)
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 12h 8 min (Excellent)
Motorola Moto X4 9h 37 min (Excellent)
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 10h 44 min (Excellent)
HTC U11 life 7h 56 min (Good)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Sony Xperia XA2 158
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 186
Motorola Moto X4 99
Motorola Moto G5S Plus 99
HTC U11 life 101

Conclusion



So, what's the verdict – yay or nay? Well, let's take a step back and first examine Sony's pricing: in the US, the Xperia XA2 will cost you $349.99, and the Xperia XA2 Ultra will set you back $449.99. This pricing is actually reasonable as it's on par with other comparable upper mid-range devices like the $400 Moto Z2 Play, the Moto X4, and even the $500 LG G6. Point is, the XA2 and XA2 Ultra feel adequately priced, and I can't really say that this was the case with many previous Sony devices.

With their snappy performance and solid battery life, the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra offer good value for their money, and despite the few minor issues here and there, I'd say that they'll satisfy users who want to get the most bang for their buck and don't want to spend a fortune on a new phone. Would I use any of these as a personal device? Yes, though I'd probably go for the XA2 as the larger XA2 Ultra doesn't really have enough exclusive features to win me over. If you're into selfies, however, the larger XA2 Ultra would be the one to go with.

Pros

  • Awesome battery life
  • Snappy performance
  • Great image quality in good light
  • Fingerprint scanners, finally

Cons

  • Somewhat plasticky build
  • Design doesn't feel particularly modern
  • Displays could use more accurate colors
  • No waterproofing

PhoneArena Rating:

7.8

User Rating:

7.0
1 Reviews

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40 Comments

1. maherk

Posts: 6884; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Is the world going to end today? I can't believe that PA are being fair to Sony!

2. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Both have same cpu of U11 Life that also run 8.0 stock android. How can XA2 duo score that high antutu? It is Z5 numbers. I was expecting about 74k. Then I saw a few hands-on, numbers really reach about 89k.

9. Djz89

Posts: 443; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

This gen of mid-rang cpus are on the same level as the older flaships like SD810, but without the overheating, the reason it scores higher i would guess is beacuse sony uses almost stock android with very little to no on top of that, the HTC uses their on skin, whitch might not be as well optimized. sense is somewhat laggy IMO .

11. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

The U11 Life android one edition does not even score 73k. Must be due to new antutu version.

17. AliBashir

Posts: 55; Member since: Jun 18, 2017

My xperia x is scoring the same now at Android 8

31. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

New Antutu has different scoring system, numbers are now higher and not comparable with the old ones.

3. hafini_27

Posts: 950; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

Decent mid-rangers from Sony.

4. ermond012

Posts: 24; Member since: Sep 13, 2013

Peter, do these two phones have new static wallpapers?

36. peter.k

Posts: 77; Member since: Jul 05, 2017

No, I don't think so. We've seen the same on the Premium and the XZ1.

5. Madmax

Posts: 110; Member since: Aug 19, 2016

ok so weighing pros and cons, I really think that score should have been more.. but hats off to you PA.. You surprised me with this review.. This gotta be your most decent and honest review of an Xperia phone..

10. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

7.8 is really decent score for Sony in this site.. Normally they'll give it 6.5/10..

18. AliBashir

Posts: 55; Member since: Jun 18, 2017

The E5 in 2016 surprisingly got score 8 and it is a complete trash compared to these two handsets in all aspects, these two must have got >= 8 score nevertheless i am really impressed with the review.

21. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Probably 8 for a low end ranking. Not all phones together.

34. Akkh99

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 24, 2015

Don't compare a 2018 phone with 2016 phone.

25. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2386; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I think PA is improving on their review ratings/opinions in being more fair...however I think they need to take that last step of dividing reviews by category. In other words, this phone may be a 7.8 overall, but if we just compared it to other midrange devices it may be an 8.5. So I think PA needs to start to distinguish that this phone is an 8 compared to other phones like it instead of just comparing it to every phone out there.

6. iczer

Posts: 160; Member since: Oct 14, 2015

Nice review!!

7. josephnero

Posts: 780; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

That screen brightness on XA2 Ultra

12. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Still waiting for new devices with Z3/Z3+ brightness. They still lead Sony phones.

32. romeo1

Posts: 816; Member since: Jan 06, 2012

Z3 wasn't that impressive imo. The z3+ however was really good. Haven't seen/used a phone with such a great screen in brightness and in quality only the xzp and maybe the note 8

8. Djz89

Posts: 443; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

this is a good score IMO, this phone is awesome for its price, this (xa2u) might vry well be my next phone :)

13. oscar

Posts: 10; Member since: Apr 15, 2008

Great to hear about this review. I think a solid 8 would be ok based on your findings. Curious to know why both phones were reviewed at the same time. Subtle differences on the phone but still should have been reviewed separate........ would be appreciated.

14. Seany

Posts: 94; Member since: Sep 28, 2012

Sony,what is the point of 2 front cameras if there is no bokeh mode or portrait mode?? And why do they keep using OIS on front camera not the main cameras?? Come on Sony get with it

19. AliBashir

Posts: 55; Member since: Jun 18, 2017

Bokeh or defocus is available in all Sony mobiles long before the dual camera since the z3.

35. Akkh99

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 24, 2015

Do you mean defocus app on playstore that fail to defocus 999 times in 1000 attempts? lmao!! I have tried this app with xperia sp, z, xz and xz premium. It didn't work haha. "Please focus on an object 15-45cm (0.5-1.5 feet) away and make sure the background object is 5 meter away from focus target and hold camera steady" It doesn't even work on front camera haha. Trash app.

22. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

The same reason LG has 13mm lenses instead of 52mm. To fit more stuff. Other brands cant even blur background completely while using fake bokeh. Why use it on front?

15. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

For future (Sony) reviews, if a 'bad' display can be tweaked for accuracy, could you actually show what an optimal recalibration looks like. Sony probably cheaps out on factory calibration because users could simply boost reds to acceptable standards.

16. brasstax

Posts: 542; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Can somebody please provide me a link to download the blue wallpaper on the XA2 Ultra on the first picture in this article? I really dig it.

23. josephnero

Posts: 780; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

Yes.search for xz default wallpaper

20. libra89

Posts: 2282; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Solid review but I think I'll have to pass on the XA2.

24. sunnyfpy

Posts: 283; Member since: May 12, 2013

Sony sucks, overpriced for below par specs !
Xperia XA2
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, Octa-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3300 mAh(29h 3G talk time)

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