Sony Xperia XA review: Narrow margins

Narrow margins

GSMArena team, 22 June 2016.

Display

The Sony Xperia XA has a 5" screen covered under a 2.5D scratch-resistant glass (Sony doesn't give out brand names). It's backed by Mobile Bravia Engine 2 and also offers Super-vivid mode.

The resolution - 720 x 1,280px, or simply 720p - is stretched a bit thin at this size. Up close you can see it's not as sharp as a 1080p screen, though the 294ppi pixel density makes this a minor complaint (iPhone 6s is at 326ppi).

Sony Xperia XA review

Colors are not as vivid as on Triluminos displays on some other Xperias. They are not as accurate either, with an average deltaE of 8.3 (max 11.4). We've seen better in this price range, but accuracy is comparable to say, Galaxy S6.

White balance is off, but there are sliders that allow you to manually adjust the white balance by using R, G and B sliders. Improving accuracy is tricky with this system, but at least you can get a white balance you like.

Colors aside, Sony did pick out a capable panel - it's fairly bright and offers great contrast thanks to the low black levels. At night, you can set the brightness under 5 nits to avoid the painful glare of a bright screen.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia XA 0.38 523 1376
Sony Xperia X 0.44 539 1219
Sony Xperia M5 0.63 527 839
HTC One A9 - 366
Xiaomi Redmi 3 0.42 520 1238
Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus 0.44 441 998
Oppo F1 0.46 408 897

Image enhancements include Mobile Bravia Engine 2, which works for photos and videos. It enhances colors, sharpens the image all the while reducing noise. There's also Super-vivid mode, which gives you "surreal, vibrant and super-vivid images."

When viewed at an angle, the screen shows no contrast loss but you can definitely see hues shift and change (it looks as if the saturation changes).

Sunlight legibility is very good for the class - it's nearly the same as on the Xperia Z5 Compact and (surprisingly) better than the flagship HTC 10.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

You can enable automatic brightness from the settings (but not from the quick toggles in the notification area). Smart backlight control keeps the lights on while you're looking at the screen, so you can set a short display sleep timeout, but still read long texts at your own pace.

Connectivity

The Sony Xperia XA comes in single and dual-SIM flavors. VoLTE is supported for higher quality audio in calls (assuming your carrier has enabled it).

The phones can drink Internet at up to 150Mbps speeds thanks to LTE Cat. 4 (50Mbps up) or Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (dual-band) if you prefer a local connection.

Bluetooth 4.1 with Low Energy and audio-focused aptX is on board as well. NFC is available too.

Wireless media connections include DLNA and Miracast. There's no wired TV out, but the USB port does support On The Go for hooking up external storage.

Sony Xperia XA battery life test

The Sony Xperia XA is thin and light, which doesn't leave much room for battery capacity. The XA is loaded with 2,300mAh in total, which is not much for a 5" phone, though some devices manage to pull off a decent endurance of similar units.

It does support a fast charging tech, MediaTek's PumpExpress 2.0 to be exact and Sony says you can get over 5 hours of battery life in just 10 minutes with its UCH12 charger.

In some regions you will need to provide your own charger, though, the one we got is a standard 1.5A. Also, note that the Quick Charge power bricks we tried didn't push more than 1.5A, so look for a charger specifically compatible with PumpExpress.

Sony's Stamina battery saving feature comes standard here. It has two modes: regular Stamina, and Ultra Stamina. The first disables non-essential features like GPS and vibration, and takes performance down a notch, but the Xperia does remain a smartphone.

Ultra Stamina is for absolutely dire occasions when you don't expect to be able to find a power outlet for a prolonged period of time. Enable that and it's back to basics where you get a single homescreen with access to the dialer and contacts, text messages, camera and clock.

Like its other X siblings, the Xperia XA battery uses Qnovo tech, which promises to prolong its usable life. As batteries age, they can hold less and less charge and that's just the problem Qnovo solves by intelligently monitoring the charge that goes into the battery.

Sony Xperia XA review

The actual battery performance isn't great - we only squeezed out 40 hours of Endurance rating. This means to reach Sony's promised 2-day battery life, you shouldn't push the Xperia XA too hard. Web browsing proved the biggest drain, you can get just over 5 hours. We've seen better from phones with smaller batteries. Even the Helio P10 chipset does okay in other phones. Still, video playback was surprisingly good and the 10 hour talk time (while not great) should be enough.

Sony Xperia XA review

Update, August 23: We re-retested the Sony Xperia XA and the web browsing time improved significantly, which along with an improvement in standby time pushed the Endurance rating up to 54 hours.

Sony Xperia XA review

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Reader comments

  • CyberLord94

Bootloop = is your problem Find a solution on Google😉

  • Bobo

Please help me out with this issue that is troubling my phone, I have updated my phone and now is not more functioning as it's used to be. Please with the previous software

  • Brightongirl

I have only had the Sony experia XA a few weeks 2nd hand. My only complaint is, that it takes a long time to fire up. When you turn it on. Seems to take for ever. To even get to the android logo. 😐