Sony Xperia X Performance review: Chief of staff

GSMArena team, 17 June 2016.

Introduction

It's the best Sony's got. The Xperia X Performance is the chosen one to fly the banner of Sony's revamped smartphone lineup. The top of the range, the Deus ex machina, the one to make you forget about your ex - the Z-series. Or is it?

The Xperia X Performance packs Qualcomm's top-end chipset of the season. It's also got a premium price tag but Sony is a premium brand to begin with and going 2 notches up or down the alphabet weren't going to change that.

Still, the 2016 flagships have more RAM, more and more of them have higher-res screens, and most can do 2160p video, if nothing else it's future-proofing.

Then again, stereo speakers aren't too widespread among the competition and water-proofing is even harder to get - both boxes checked on the Xperia X Performance spec sheet.

So we have a rare breed of flagship on our hands. It's priced as a flagship and it has one or two features that few other flagships have, yet it doesn't strive to beat everybody else in their specs race. We sure don't know what to make of it but we bet that some further digging might show us what it's all about.

Sony Xperia X Performance key features

  • 5" 1,080 x 1,920px LCD display with 441ppi, X-Reality for Mobile, Triluminos technology and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer; scratch-resistant glass, oleophobic coating
  • Android OS v6.0 Marshmallow with Xperia launcher
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset: quad-core Kryo CPU (2x2.15GHz +2x1.6GHz); Adreno 530 GPU; 3GB RAM
  • 23 MP camera with 1080p@60fps video recording and tracking autofocus; 13 MP front-facing camera with 1080p@30fps video
  • 32GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot
  • Single and dual-SIM models (DualSIM has a hybrid slot shared with the microSD card)
  • LTE Cat.9 (450/50 Mbps); Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Bluetooth v4.2
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic;
  • 24-bit/192kHz Hi-Res audio
  • 2,700mAh non-removable battery
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Stereo speakers
  • IP68 rating for dust- and water-proofing

Main shortcomings

  • No 4K video recording
  • No FM radio (which the Xperia X has)
  • Fingerprint recognition not available in the US

The absence of 4K video recording from the spec sheet is baffling. The only plausible explanation is that Sony is reserving it for an even higher-end model further down the line. But even so, the Xperia X Performance commands a flagship price, and yet it's missing a feature that's taken for granted in its segment.

The omission of fingerprint recognition for the US is an odd decision too, and one that probably has its roots in licensing and such, so we won't ponder on it too much, and let Sony deal with disgruntled US buyers. Of course, it's easier for us to dismiss it - our review unit (international version) comes with all the trimmings.

Sony Xperia X Performance review

The X Performance pricing is certainly ambitious, but Sony's name alone commands a price premium across their entire product portfolios. Brand loyalty is strong with the Japanese company too, and that's something you build with successful products over the years.

But let's see whether the Xperia X Performance has what it takes to carry the brand's banner forward. Join us on the next page for a detailed look at the X Performance's exterior.