Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review

GSMArena team, 14 September 2018.

A familiar 23MP camera

Sony Xperia XA2 Plus, just like the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra, as well as the entire XA1 series, comes equipped with a 23MP camera on its back. This is the in-house 25MP IMX300, which sits behind a familiar 24mm-equiv. f/2.0 aperture lens.

Xperia Assistant main chat interface - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review

Depending on whether you shoot in a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, different portions of the sensor are used; you get either 22.8MP or 20.1MP images, respectively, and never the full 25MP. Hence the official 23MP designation. Among the benefits of having such a multi-aspect sensor are the similar field of view in both modes (measured diagonally), and higher-res 16:9 shots than what you'd get by cropping from a regular 23MP sensor which has a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Sony's camera app has been polished over the years, and the Xperia XA2 Plus has the latest version of the camera app, where the 4K video is now part of the camcorder instead of being a standalone shooting mode. Finally!

Superior Auto is the default mode and it will try to adjust image parameters to better match the scene by recognizing among some two dozen different scenarios. It can also engage HDR for you (Backlit scene it's called), which isn't available as a toggle in this mode - it's only found in Manual mode.

Other than HDR override, in Manual mode you get access to full range shutter speed selection (1/4000s - 1s), exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, and a manual focus slider.

Xperia Assistant main chat interface - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Xperia Assistant main chat interface - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Xperia Assistant main chat interface - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Xperia Assistant main chat interface - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Camera app

There is a Bokeh mode available. Since the phone only has one camera, it operates the old-fashioned way - by taking a pair of photos and then allowing the user to adjust the focus, blurring the rest, as best it can. Sometimes it works well if you line up your shot correctly, and sometimes it just doesn't. Also, you have to be really close to the subject, 1 meter or less.

Image quality

The Xperia XA2 Plus captures some very detailed photos in bright light. There is some visible noise in areas of uniform color, but not as much to impact the otherwise excellent quality. And the dynamic range is impressive.

Quite expectedly, there's a hint of corner softness, but it's inevitable with such a wide-angle lens, and it's in the extreme corners, so there is nothing to worry about.

Superior Auto does a great job of recognizing the scene and dials up the saturation in landscape scenarios to achieve a pleasingly vivid output. It does the same for HDR (backlight) scenes, too.

Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2763s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2162s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2486s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 41, 1/4736s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2260s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2260s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2617s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2116s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP camera samples

Just like with many previous Xperia devices, the HDR mode can only be enabled manually in, um, Manual mode. The Superior Auto has you covered with Backlit scene mode, though, as it recognizes that it's a high-contrast scene and will engage HDR automatically. And you should rely on the Auto mode, as the Manual HDR produces super-saturated over-the-top images with blown highlights.

HDR off - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/1058s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review HDR on - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/1198s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review HDR off - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2260s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review HDR on - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2925s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
HDR off HDR on HDR off HDR on

The Xperia XA2 Plus camera handles low-light scenes very well. While the 23MP images are nothing to phone home about, there is enough detail even though a lot of it gets smudged in post-processing by the noise reduction algorithm. But the images do look contrasty and lively.

While the 23MP photos are not impressive, downscale those to 10MP and you may get Huawei P20-like night shots, and that's a reason to phone home about, isn't it?

Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1450, 1/14s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1408, 1/14s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 877, 1/14s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1677, 1/10s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1629, 1/10s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1047, 1/14s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1366, 1/14s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP low-light samples

If you set the phone up on a tripod, the shutter speed in Superior Auto can go as low as 0.5s, at least in theory. You can slow it even further - to 1s - if you switch to Manual. We wish Sony allowed for longer shutter speeds (say, up to 30sec) but long exposure shooting is a niche application for a phone camera anyway.

Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP sample shot at manual mode (ISO 100, 1s.) - f/2.0, ISO 172, 1/1s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Xperia XA2 Plus 23MP sample shot at manual mode (ISO 100, 1s.)

You can put the Xperia XA2 Plus against other phones in our Picture Compare Tool. We've selected the Xperia XA2 Ultra and the XA2, but you can change those as you please.

Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool
Sony Xperia XA2 Plusvs. XA2 Ultra vs. XA2 in our photo compare tool

Bokeh

Sony's Bokeh app is part of the Xperia suite. As we mentioned, it does things the old-fashioned way - by taking a pair of photos and then allowing the user to adjust the focus, blurring the rest, as best it can. Sometimes it works well if you line up your shot correctly, and sometimes it just doesn't. Also, you have to be close to the subject, 1 meter or less.

You can choose between three types of blur - directional - horizontal and vertical, and natural (Bokeh). But shooting with the Bokeh mode is total hit and miss.

Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP Bokeh samples - f/2.0, ISO 215, 1/60s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP Bokeh samples - f/2.0, ISO 215, 1/60s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP Bokeh samples - f/2.0, ISO 196, 1/60s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP Bokeh samples

Selfies

The Sony Xperia XA2 Plus borrows the 8MP, 1/4" snapper introduced first with the original XA2. It has an impressively wide field of view - 120-degree - or an 11mm equivalent should be enough even for the most ambitious group shots. And in case that is a bit too broad to accommodate your regular selfie needs, there is also a toggle to bring it down to 80-degree (22mm equivalent).

The selfie quality is subpar - there is below average detail, the photos are soft overall, and the images look out of focus. There is no autofocus, and this omission takes its toll. Sometimes the soft skin effect (triggered by the Superior Auto) smears fine detail to an extent where it makes the face look weird, so we'd generally suggest turning this option off.

Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP selfies - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/30s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP selfies - f/2.4, ISO 55, 1/120s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP selfies - f/2.4, ISO 62, 1/120s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP selfies - f/2.4, ISO 99, 1/30s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP selfies

On a positive note, the wide shots are quite impressive because of how much they fit in the frame. These are also more detailed than the regular 8MP shots. We are sure quite a few selfie fans will appreciate this lens.

Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP group selfies - f/2.4, ISO 44, 1/30s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP group selfies - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/120s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP group selfies - f/2.4, ISO 64, 1/120s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP group selfies - f/2.4, ISO 96, 1/30s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP group selfies

There is a new Portrait selfie mode on the Xperia XA2 Plus. In addition to the level of blur, it offers various face adjustments - face and eye size, face brightness and skin tone. The 8MP portrait samples are quite bad, so wouldn't bother using this mode.

Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP portrait selfies - f/2.0, ISO 95, 1/0s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP portrait selfies - f/2.0, ISO 58, 1/0s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP portrait selfies - f/2.0, ISO 93, 1/0s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP portrait selfies - f/2.0, ISO 55, 1/0s - Sony Xperia XA2 Plus review
Sony Xperia XA2 Plus 8MP portrait selfies

Video recording

The Xperia XA2 Ultra's shooting modes include 4K/30fps, 1080p/30fps, and high-speed 1080p/60fps options. There is also a 120fps recording in 720p.

Shooting in 1080p at 30fps allows you to use the 3-axis Standard SteadyShot electronic stabilization. The feature reduces the field of view but does a good job stabilizing the image. While it's not the best we've seen, it's more than enough for the class. Here is a playlist for the EIS test:

The 4K clips are soft, with average detail, but with great contrast, accurate colors, and decent dynamic range. The audio is captured at 96kbps and unfortunately, appears to be low in quality.

1080p videos are a bit sharper, with enough detail, good contrast, and decent dynamic range as well. The framerate is smooth no matter if you opt for 30 or 60fps.

You can download short untouched samples as well - 4K (10s, 55MB), 1080p at 30fps (11s, 28MB), and 1080p at 60fps (11s, 41MB).

Below you have the Xperia XA2 Plus in our video compare tool.

Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool
2160p: Sony Xperia XA2 Plus vs. Xperia XA2 Ultra vs. Xperia XA2 in our 4K video compare tool

Reader comments

  • carlloo

you can buy at shopee

  • HeavenlyShroud

I hope I could still buy this despite stopping of Sony's phone production here in the Philippines. :(

  • Anonymous

Did you try before comment? Try both, sony more durable than samsung(mine made in viet) Is fair expensive better quality