Sony Xperia XA Ultra review: Lord of the selfies

Lord of the selfies

GSMArena team, 20 July 2016.

Display

The Sony Xperia XA Ultra comes with a 6" screen - even by today's standards that's big! And it has 1080p resolution, giving it a pixel density of 367ppi, sharper than the 720p screen of the small XA (294ppi). We are really happy with how fine details look on the screen and we think this sort of resolution is quite adequate for pretty much anyone - not to mention the power efficiency and graphics performance benefits.

The panel used is an IPS LCD and it has great viewing angles. It doesn't have Sony's Triluminos panel tech like on the Xperia X lineup but honestly, we can't tell just by looking at it and without comparing it directly to another display that has it.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra review

Color accuracy is average with an average deltaE of 7.4 and a maximum of 13.4. Those are similar readings to the Xiaomi Mi Max, for example, but worse than some large AMOLEDs (e.g. Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) or Oppo R7 Plus).

The main culprits are the white balance, which is on the cool side, and the red channel. There are sliders to adjust the screen's RGB channels separately, but eyeballing a more accurate result is next to impossible. Just get a color balance you like and stick with it.

Two additional screen modes are Mobile Bravia 2 and Super Vivid. Bravia applies image processing - noise reduction, sharpening, etc. in the gallery and video player - while Super Vivid boosts the gamma curve to make images pop. Neither screen mode affected the maximum achievable brightness or the color accuracy.

Speaking of brightness, the Sony Xperia XA Ultra screen is very bright, brighter than most screens its size. It went up to 530 nits while keeping the contrast relatively high at just over 1,000:1.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia XA 0.38 523 1376
Sony Xperia XA Ultra 0.50 531 1071
Sony Xperia C5 Ultra 0.37 422 1144
Oppo F1 Plus 0.00 351
Oppo R7 Plus - 351
Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) 0.00 427
Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) max auto 0.00 609
Xiaomi Mi Max 0.46 424 922
LeEco Le Max 2 0.30 426 1444

When you go the other way, push the brightness slider to minimum, the display put out 6.7 nits - low enough that you can use it in the middle of the night.

Sunlight legibility is surprisingly good. AMOLEDs still offer a slightly better performance, but most LCDs in this price range - and several flagships among which the Xperia Z5 - don't do quite as well on a bright sunny day. Sony gets top marks for the XA Ultra display.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • 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 A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    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
  • 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
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • 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
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • 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
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • 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
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • 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
  • 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

Connectivity

The Sony Xperia XA Ultra comes in single and dual-SIM variants. It has LTE connectivity, Cat. 4 150Mbps/50Mbps, and HSPA+. Other Internet connectivity options include Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (150Mbps speed, there's no ac).

Bluetooth 4.1 has both the Low Energy option and the high-quality aptX audio streaming codec. NFC is on board as well.

The microUSB 2.0 port handles charging and data, obviously, but it also supports USB OTG so you can hook up external hardware. If you're going to use flash drives, make sure to install a file browser first as there isn't one out of the box.

Sony's Video & TV SideView app shows an electronic program guide and can control Bravia TVs via Wi-Fi (there's no IR blaster to control regular TVs or other appliances).

FM radio is available for old-school entertainment. Like with TV, Sony has added some Internet smarts and built TrackID into the radio app.

Battery

The Sony Xperia XA Ultra has a tiny battery - just 2,700mAh. We're not being overly harsh, the C5 Ultra is about this size (a bit thinner, actually) and it has a 2,930mAh battery. Hell, even the Xperia Z5 Compact has a 2,700mAh battery. Yes, the 4.6" phone!

Considering that battery life was the major weak point of the Xperia XA, which had a similar-sized battery (2,300mAh), the same chipset and a smaller screen, we just didn't expect much before we started the following battery tests.

It turns out things are better than expected, a decent step up from the 5" XA (not so much the endurance as the performance in the web and video tests). However, endurance hasn't improved since the C5 Ultra and is fairly average for 2016. Other recent 6" phones (and bigger) push up against the 100h endurance rating mark and can last close to 20 hours of browsing the web. We're not afraid to take those to even the longest tech conventions, but with the XA Ultra we will pack an external battery.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra 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

  • Anna

Camera is not good.... Takes too long to save photos

  • Disappointing Sony

****Dont buy this phone**** software issues Has wifi errors on purchase and sony not offering support

  • AnonD-724747

No spare parts after 2 years from released date. Not worth repairing as the spare parts were too expensive. It can costs you more than buying a new phone.