Sony Xperia XA1 review: Square one

Square one

GSMArena team, 06 May 2017.

The 5-inch LCD panel with 720p resolution is... all right

The Xperia XA1 is equipped with a 5" 720p display, making for a pixel density of 294ppi - not cutting edge, but decently sharp nonetheless. Under a microscope, you'll see a conventional RGB arrangement with equal number of subpixels for each primary color.

Sony Xperia XA1 review

In our tests, the Xperia XA1 returned slightly higher numbers for maximum brightness than its predecessor, and only a bit lower than the flagship XZs. The XA1's blacks weren't as deep, which affected contrast but it's still remained above 1000:1.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia XA1 0.512 537 1049
Sony Xperia XA 0.38 523 1376
Sony Xperia XZs 0.461 564 1223
Xiaomi Mi 5 0.51 628 1227
Xiaomi Mi 5s 0.51 660 1294
Xiaomi Mi 5s (auto contrast) 0.50 635 1270
Huawei nova 0.25 385 1540
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 0 413
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) max auto 0 559
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) 0 338
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) outdoor mode 0 476
Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime 0.475 528 1112
Huawei Honor 8 0.34 374 1101
Huawei Honor 8 (Max auto) 0.34 395 1161

The sunlight legibility marks a small improvement over the Xperia X. It's on par with, say, Nexus 5X, and close to the Huawei P9, but behind some mid-range AMOLED-packing phones.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • 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
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Xiaomi Mi 5
    3.24
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • 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
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • 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
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (X20)
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
    2.095
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • 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
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

In terms of color reproduction, the Xperia XA1 does an okay job of staying close to sRGB. We measured an average DeltaE of 4.2 with a maximum of 7.5 and slightly purplish whites. You can alter the colors in Settings, but fiddling with the RGB sliders reduces brightness (default values produce the brightest output), and it doesn't really bring more accurate colors.

Connectivity

The Sony Xperia XA1 comes in single and Dual SIM flavors. Ours is the single SIM version, so we can't comment on how the Dual SIM one handles the two cards. Cat.6 LTE is supported by the Helio P20's modem for download speeds of up to 300Mbps.

Wi-Fi a/b/g/n is supported, but not ac. You can stream wirelessly over Miracast but the XA1 isn't DLNA certified. Bluetooth is now v4.2, as opposed to the XA's 4.1 with Low Energy and audio-focused aptX on board as well. NFC is available too, and so is an FM radio receiver. For positioning, you get GPS and GLONASS, but no BDS and Galileo.

Peripherals can be connected via the USB-C port, but it only adheres to USB 2.0, so transfer speeds are limited to 480Mbps. There's a good old 3.5mm jack for attaching headphones too.

Sony Xperia XA1 battery life

The Xperia XA1 keeps the predecessor's battery capacity, so it packs 2,300mAh worth of juice, which is not a lot by any measure. In the 5-to-5.2-inch display size category, a 3,000mAh capacity seems to be the norm - the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017), Xiaomi Mi 5 and Mi 5s, Honor 8, and Huawei nova all have as much (though admittedly most of these are 5.2 inches). The Moto G5 relies on a 2,800mAh power pack.

But it's not only the battery capacity that matters as the power efficiency of the chipset is paramount to the smartphone battery life. The Xperia XA1 is the first phone with Mediatek's Helio P20 chipset and we were especially curious to see how the battery tests results would turn out.

Admittedly, we approached this with mixed feelings. On one hand, the previous Mediatek chipset - the Helio P10 - didn't have a great track record in this respect and phones using it consistently performed badly in our battery testing. On the other hand, however, MediaTek claims that the new Helio P20 chipset should offer up to 25% better power efficiency than the P10 owing to the fact that it's built on a 16nm process node.

With all that said, we didn't quite know what to expect from the Xperia XA1, and we were more or less pessimistic. The phone, however, managed to surprise us with a consistently good battery life across all tests.

The Endurance rating of 72h is, coincidentally, as much as the Xperia XZs got recently. Kudos to Sony for improving battery performance across the entire portfolio this year and kudos to Mediatek for finally improving the power efficiency of its chipsets.

Sony Xperia XA1 battery life

The Endurance rating above is how long a single battery charge would last you if you use the phone for a hour of calling, video watching and web browsing per day and it includes the battery discharge rate in standby mode. Our 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.

In terms of charging speeds, the Xperia XA1 should come with Mediatek's PumpExpress 2.0 quick charging solution. The charger, which we received with the phone, however, didn't support the technology. It could only output 5V/1.5A current so a 30-minute charging session from 0% managed to restore only 32% of the battery capacity, which, honestly, is from being quick. We're talking about a 2,300mAh battery after all.

The Qnovo Adaptive Charging tech built inside recent Sony Xperia phones, however, allows the smartphone to monitor the cell's electrochemical processes in real time and adjust charging parameters dynamically to minimize cell damage and extend the battery unit's lifespan.

Qnovo claims the battery should last hundreds of charge cycles more than a conventionally charged battery. This potentially means a year or so of extra longevity as the battery should hopefully be able to hold charge better once it gets older.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

Touch screen is so suck!!!

  • stone

Its the worst phone that i have seen please don't buy this product @ any cost. The sound display isn't working . & bass quality is not that good.

  • Sony "fan"

It's OK but it glitches all the time. The screen is Trash!