Sony Xperia XA1 Review

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Sony Xperia XA1 Review 2017

Sony recently released a couple of new devices such as the Xperia XZ Premium, the XA1 and XA1 Ultra. After having a look at the Xperia XA1 Ultra, it is only fitting that we take a look at the slightly smaller version, the Xperia XA1. Let’s find out how this smaller device compares to its larger brother.

The size of the XA1 Ultra was very noticeable but the XA1 is much smaller and more discreet. The frame is made of aluminum while the back is made of a soft touch plastic. The edges are rounded which makes the phone really comfortable to hold. At 8 millimeters the body is pretty thin. I had the black model on test which has silver detailing on the top and bottom of the device giving a very elegant look. If black is not for you, you can choose between white, gold and pink. If you compare a small phone today to the phones of the past, they will look massive. These days phones just keep on getting bigger and bigger. While I do love a large display, like the one on the Galaxy S8+, I do prefer a smaller phone for certain situations like going for a cycle or a hike. It is just so much easier to carry a smaller device.

Much like the Ultra, the XA1 has a USB Type C port at the bottom and a headphone jack at the top of the device. At the side you get a volume rocker, power button and dedicated camera button. The buttons are well placed and it is very easy to access the first time round.

The front of the device consists of a 5 inch display with a thick bezel on the top and bottom and a thin bezel on the sides. The top bezel houses the front facing camera, call speaker and the notification light while the bottom bezel has a speaker.

The display has 720 x 1280 pixels and is really easy on the eye. Images and videos are crisp and clear. Colours are rich and vibrant and overall the display is very good for a mid range device. The display is an IPS LCD which ensures that the display is easily visible from different angles even when outdoors. The display also has curved edges which gives a nice effect.

The rear of the device is kept simple with just a camera and a flash. There is also the NFC logo.

Just like the Ultra, the XA1 is powered by a 2.3GHZ Octa-core processor but whereas the Ultra has 4GB of RAM, the XA1 has 3GB. This does not mean that the XA1 is under powered at all. Apps load quickly and multitasking is easy. In fact, the XA1 is rather pleasant to use.

With 32Gb internal storage and support of a microSD card up to 256GB you should never run out of storage. If you do, you are keeping way too much on your phone.

When it comes to the camera, the XA1 does not disappoint. Featuring a 23MP camera with phase detection autofocus and an LED flash, you will be able to capture high quality images on the go, which is what most of us want from our smartphones. The camera focuses very quickly and the dynamic range is good which means you can capture lighter and lower parts of the image. The front camera takes photos in 8Mp and even has autofocus. Shoot video up to 1080p in 30fps on both the front and rear cameras. While I was a little disappointed to see that there wasn’t support for 60fps, I found the video quality to be adequate for most users.

The stock camera app is simple and easy to use. You get the option to shoot in Manual mode to tweak the settings or shoot in Superior Auto mode which lets the camera choose the best settings based on the scene. Modes such as AR effect, Panorama and timeshift burst are also available.

The device comes loaded with Android 7 (Nougat) but is upgradeable to Android 8 (Oreo) in the near future. Sony’s UI overlay keeps the interface looking neat and uncluttered and most of all it is simple to navigate. The UI is fast and responsive with smooth animations. There are a couple of apps that come installed that you may not actually want which can either be disabled or installed. Overall the software experience is pleasant.

The XA1 is powered by a non-removable Li-Ion 2300 mAh battery. This battery is slightly smaller than the 2700mAh battery in the Ultra. This is because the display is smaller so a smaller battery will be adequate. I was able to get a day of normal usage. Even with loads of photography and video recording the device lasted most of the day! If you are a heavy user there are power saving modes which should help you squeeze some more juice out of the battery. With fast battery charging you should be able to charge up the battery from 10%- 60% in around 1 hour. You will need the fast charger plug which is not included in the box.

What is included in the box: Besides for the phone itself you get a USB Type C cable, charging adapter and all the usual documentation and quickstart guides.

The XA1 is a mid range device that sells at a recommended retail price of R3999, nearly R2500 less than it’s larger brother. Not many are able to spend R15K on a flagship device and the Xperia XA1 is here to save the day. You get a pretty decent phone for a really good price.

I was pretty impressed by the Xperia XA1 Ultra but how does the Xperia XA1 compare? The XA1 is basically a smaller version of the XA1 Ultra. Besides for the smaller display, there isn’t much that is different, well enough to make a difference. The XA1 is a great performer and for those that are looking for a cost effective phone, the Xperia XA1 may be the phone for you.