Tested: Sony’s Xperia XA smartphone – on the road in a Ford Mustang – EFTM
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Tested: Sony’s Xperia XA smartphone – on the road in a Ford Mustang

Any excuse for a muscle car road trip right?

Sony recently announced three new smartphones, all under the one “Xperia X” banner in a bid to both rationalise and boost their smartphone profile.  When they asked me how I’d like to test one out, I chose a road trip – what better way to drain the battery, test the camera and get some great shots!

When I first saw the new range, the XA, the X and X Performance I was immediately drawn to the XA.  Despite being the “entry-level” Xperia X, it was the slimmest, sleekest and for me felt best in the hand.

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It’s smaller, but has the same sized screen: (5 inch).  Under the hood, it’s not as powerful, doesn’t have the high-end camera or memory – but at $499 could it be Sony’s chance to crack it for some bulk sales in a very crowded market.

My good mate and co-host of Two Blokes Talking Tech Stephen Fenech took an immediate liking to the Xperia X Performance, a bigger phone, more suited to his man-hands and being a regular iPhone Plus sized user it wouldn’t be an issue.

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So – a road trip huh?  Sure.  I figured we’d pair up, head to my Mum’s pub in regional NSW and see what we could learn about these phones.

After a quick call to our good mates at Ford Australia, we each had a brand new Mustang:)  I opted for the V8 GT, and nominated Stephen to get the soft-top ecoboost.  He wasn’t unhappy at all – both great cars.

We set off in the morning, no rush, off to get a good steak and chips at the Walcha Road Hotel.

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On the way, we paired our phones to bluetooth and used them as our go to communications.    After filling up the tanks, we hit the M1 then onto the New England Highway.

I streamed my Google Play music library pretty much the entire time.  That may have worked against me, and the Xperia XA.  Battery life wasn’t great – it knocked down at a fast rate.  I’ll put that down to both Bluetooth and Internet Streaming via 4G being a huge drain, but in reality it didn’t fill me with confidence.

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When we took a break to Stop, Revive, Survive and do radio interviews – I took a moment to compare something that had also been bugging me since the first time I saw the XA.  The Screen.

I get that it’s 720p, it’s not the higher resolution 1080 of the X and X Performance.  But it’s not the resolution that bugged me.  It’s the colour.

I pumped up the brightness, looked at all the settings, and it always felt “washed out”.  Side by side with Stephen’s X Performance the difference was stark.  We found equal settings across both and couldn’t make the XA much better.

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It’s not the end of the world, but I just feel like there’s a whole lot of colour being washed out of the screen which I just don’t understand.  I’ve seen cheap low end phones with brighter colour performance.

Camera performance was a huge leap forward from last year’s Xperia Z5 flagship phones.  My concern there was the time it took to launch the app and shutter a photo.  On the Xperia XA it was as immediate as I’ve come to expect from any flagship phone.  Top marks Sony.

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Looking at the photos on my computer, they’re not amazing.  But they are certainly good.   Considering this is the entry level and doesn’t have the high end camera of the range, I’d be pretty darn satisfied with this as my daily shooter given most of what we do is social sharing.

I’m not going to tell you that battery life impressed me after my first driving experience.  But after a few more days usage It appears to me to be a standard fare battery performance in 2016 – nothing to write home about, certainly needing a daily charge but you should get through your work day with a breeze.

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At $499, Sony has this Xperia XA in a crowded field.  Up against some upstart brands like Oppo or Alcatel’s Idol 4 soon – What Sony has in its favour is brand awareness and quality – this thing feels great, solid and actually very comfortable to use.

You can’t fault their attention to detail on the quality side of things and I think at $499 this should be a consideration for anyone looking for outright phone purchase.

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It’s not waterproof so keep it away from the pool (and Toilet seat), at $799 and $999 respectively the X and X Performance might offer better features, improved camera and the like, but I think on dollar for dollar value for money the Xperia XA is the pick of the bunch.

Read Stephen’s review of the Xperia X Performance at TechGuide.com.au

 

Here’s seven seconds of video shot and edited on the SONY #XperiaXSeries XA @fordaustralia @sonyxperiaau

A video posted by Trevor Long (@trevorlongau) on

 

Comparison table

Key spec

XA

X

X Performance

Depth

Weight

7.9mm

<137.4g

7.7mm

152g

8.7mm

<165g

Design

 

 

IP65/68, capless USB

Processor

Mediatek Helio™ P10 octa-core 64 bit processor

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 650 hexa-core 64 bit processor

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 quad-core 64 bit processor

Internal memory

16GMB eMMC

(Supports memory card up to 200GB)

32GMB eMMC

(Supports memory card up to 200GB)

32GB (Supports memory card up to 200GB)

Display

5” HD 720p

Mobile BRAVIA engine 2

5” Full HD 1080p

TRILUMINOUS Display for mobile

5” Full HD 1080p

TRILUMINOUS Display for mobile

Connectivity

LTE Cat4, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1

LTE Cat6, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2

LTE Cat9, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2

Battery

Up to 2 days (2300mAh), Quick charging Pump Express+ 2.0 (10min charge – 5.5h use)

Adaptive charging with Qnovo

Up to 2 days (2620mAh),

QC 2.0 (10min charge – 5.5h use).

Adaptive charging with Qnovo

(2700mAh),

QC 2.0 (10min charge – 5.5h use)

Adaptive charging with Qnovo

Main Camera

13MP / Hybrid AF /

5x clear image zoom / HDR photo

23MP / Predictive Hybrid Auto Focus / up to ISO12800, Sony ExmorRS™ for mobile image sensor / 24mm wide G Lens / Superior Auto+ / Quick launch / HDR photo / Full HD Video

23MP/  Predictive Hybrid Auto Focus / up to ISO12800 / Sony ExmorRS™ for mobile image sensor / 24mm wide G Lens / Superior Auto+ / Quick launch / HDR photo / Full HD Video

Front camera

Front: 8MP/ Sony ExmorR™ for mobile image sensor / wide-angle lens

Front: 13MP / 22mm wide-angle lens / up to ISO6400 / HDR photo

Front: 13MP / 22mm wide-angle lens /   up to ISO6400 / HDR photo

Audio

Clear Audio+

DNC / DSEE HX / HRA / AHC / LDAC

DNC / DSEE HX / HRA / AHC / LDAC

 

Xperia X Series pricing and availability details

Carriers/Retailers

Handset

Pricing

Operator Channels

Vodafone

Xperia XA
(Graphite Black)

$40 Red plan + $3 phone  + bonus 500MB[iv] (Over 24 months, Min cost $1032)

Xperia X
(Graphite Black)

$70 Red plan + $0 upfront phone (Over 24 months. Min cost $1680)

Virgin Mobile

Xperia XA
(Graphite Black, Rose Gold)

$40 per month ($40 plan + $0 upfront. Min total cost over 24 months is $960)

Telstra

Xperia X Performance
(Graphite Black, White)

   the $95 Go Mobile plan with no additional handset repayments (min cost $2,280, standard call $2) when you stay connected for 24 months and;

·         the $100 Go Business Mobile Plan with no additional handset repayments when you stay connected for 24 months (min cost $2,400, standard call $2).

Outright Channels

Sony Kiosks and Sony Centre

Xperia XA
(Graphite Black, White, Lime Gold, Rose Gold)

$499

Xperia X
(Graphite Black, White, Lime Gold, Rose Gold)

$799

Xperia X Performance
(Graphite Black, White, Lime Gold, Rose Gold)

$999

JB Hi-Fi

Xperia XA (Graphite Black)

$499

Harvey Norman

Xperia XA (Graphite Black)

$499

Xperia X (Graphite Black, White)

$799

 

Sony Xperia XA
Date Published: 07/20/2016
The entry level Xperia for 2016 at $499 this is a capable unit, comfortable to hold, outstanding build quality, not the best camera or screen but competitive at $499
3.5 / 5 stars

Categories
Tech

Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
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