LG and Samsung may be the talk of the town following their respective flagship releases, but it’s safe to say that neither OEM did a very good job with keeping things under wraps in the run up to their launch. However, one company that has taken us a bit more by surprise is Sony, who introduced an absolutely brand new series of smartphones earlier today, under the Xperia X moniker.
The three devices in the series range from affordable mid-range to high-end, and at MWC 2016, we got to spend some time with these smartphones. Here’s our first look, as we go hands on with the Sony Xperia X line!
The first device in the line, the Xperia XA, features a near bezel-less display with subtle curves on the sides, that give the phones a pleasant, pebble-like feel. The device is very light, weighing just 137.4 grams, and with a thickness of under 8 mm, the handling experience is really good. Of course, the 5-inch display means it isn’t the biggest phone around anyway, but the ultra-thin bezels help with reaching across to everything on the screen. The power button on the side returns to its signature round look, if only because of the fact that there is no fingerprint scanner here. The camera shutter also makes a return here, and is a big part of some of the better camera features on offer. As far as color options go, the Xperia XA comes in white, black, mint, and bronze.
The Xperia X and Xperia X Performance share essentially the same design as one another, and in fact, neither of these models come with the edge-to-edge display seen with the Xperia XA. Instead, the X and X Performance have a lot in common with the Xperia Z line when it comes to design language, with the major difference being the more rounded corners and sides, and of course a change to a full metal design. All three Xperia X family members share the same screen size and overall footprint, but the X and X Performance are significantly heavier than the Xperia XA, with the former weighing in at 153 grams and 164 grams respectively.
Overall, the Xperia X and X Performance feel very much like what we’ve seen from Sony so far in the Xperia Z line, despite a few differences in design language. Sony has been criticized for releasing very similar devices on very short lifecycles, and while the X Performance is ostensibly the first in a series, it feels like a continuation of the familiar Z line.
As previously mentioned, all of the devices come with 5-inch IPS LCD panels, but while the Xperia X and X Performance come with a Full HD resolution, the Xperia XA comes with a 720p resolution. Also returning is Sony’s Triluminos and X-Reality technologies, which pump up the color, especially when consuming media. Overall, these are fairly common, yet entirely competent displays that you’ll find little to complain about.
The processing package is where the Xperia XA, X, and X Performance diverge. The Xperia XA comes with a MediaTek MT6755, an octa-core chip that is mostly been used in mid-range devices. The X jumps to a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 650, another processor geared towards the mid-range, while the X Performance graduates to Qualcomm’s latest and greatest, the Snapdragon 820.
However, as far as performance is concerned, from the short time that we spent with the devices, we could really tell that they were running unfinished software. There were a lot of instances of lag throughout, even on the high-end X Performance, and the camera in particular was significantly buggy. Taking a few photos in quick succession on the maximum resolution resulted in the phone becoming unresponsive and warm, with a restart required after that. Of course, Sony will iron out most of these issues in time for the commercial release of the device, so we’ll have to wait for when we get our review units to give a final verdict with regards to performance.
Another issue we encountered was the absence of any mention of the fingerprint sensor in the software, even though the Xperia X and X Performance come with one, embedded into the power button. As such, the non-final software prevented us from testing if Sony managed to improve the performance of the sensor incorporated in the power button, given that it wasn’t the best with the Xperia Z5 Premium.
On the software side of things, all the devices are running Android Marshmallow, and returning is a mostly stock-like interface, with Sony’s well-known additions included. As mentioned though, the software on the phones we tested was not final, so we’ll abstain from talking too much about it.
On the camera front, the X Performance and X comes with 23 MP rear shooters and 13 MP front-facing cameras, while the Xperia XA packs a 13 MP primary camera and an 8 MP front-facing unit. Given the mentioned software issues, we weren’t really able to try out the cameras very well though. We did try the X Performance’s Hybrid Auto-Focus feature, which allows you to tap on an object in your field of view, and have the camera focus on it and follow it around. When the camera didn’t jam up, the feature worked pretty well. The camera was able to follow the tracked object — Lanh walking around the room — pretty accurately, though fast movements like the wave of a hand were beyond its capabilities.
So there you have it for this quick look at the Sony Xperia X line! The Xperia X and XA are great additions to the competitive mid-range space, and can prove to be really good contenders as long as Sony gets the pricing right. The X Performance on the other hand is a bit of a puzzler, with it featuring what many essentially expected from the Xperia Z6. This may be Sony’s way of technically doing away with their bi-annual release cycle strategy, but the X Performance isn’t fooling anyone.