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Sony Xperia XA Smartphone Review

Andreas Kilian (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 08/14/2016

Golden times? With its Xperia XA, Sony sends a new designer piece into the smartphone mid-range ring. Esthetes in particular should notice the slim lateral display bezel and the plain build right away. But are the inner values enough to keep the rivals at a distance?

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Sony Xperia XA

For the original German review, see here.

Sony's mid-range Xperia XA model is one of the manufacturer's new X-line, and a starting price of 300 Euros (~$335; market prices start at approx. 270 Euros/~$302) places it between the Xperia X, which is based on stronger components and the much cheaper Xperia E5 entry-level model. In addition to the color "Lime Gold" that adorns our review sample, the smartphone is also available in "Rose Gold", "Graphite Black", and "White". They all come with an octa-core SoC by MediaTek, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage. The device is powered by Android 6.0 Marshmallow ex-factory.

Huawei's P9 LiteZTE's Blade V7, and Samsung's J5 (2016) and A3 (2016) models are the hottest rivals of the Xperia XA. Non-Android based opponents are rare in this price range, and thus Microsoft's Lumia 650, already available with a price tag starting at 170 Euros (~$190) has to prove its capabilities.

Sony Xperia XA (Xperia Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
5 inch 16:9, 1280 x 720 pixel 294 PPI, capacitive touchscreen, Super Vivid-Modus, Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, IPS, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 8.4 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm headset jack, Card Reader: micro-SD max. 200 GB, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: accelerometer, proximity sensor, gyroscope, compass, Wi-Fi Direct, Miracast, DLNA, nano-SIM, USB-OTG, FM radio
Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.1, GSM GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), UMTS HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), LTE (bands 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20) Cat 4 (max. 50 Mbit/s upload, 150 Mbit/s download), SAR body: 0.473 W/kg, SAR head: 0.471 W/kg, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.9 x 143.6 x 66.8 ( = 0.31 x 5.65 x 2.63 in)
Battery
8.7 Wh, 2300 mAh
Operating System
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Camera
Primary Camera: 13 MPix (autofocus f/2.0, 1080p video @ 30 fps)
Secondary Camera: 8 MPix (autofocus f/2.0, 1080p video @ 30 fps)
Additional features
Speakers: mono speaker lower edge, Keyboard: virtual, power supply, USB cable, headset, Playstation, FM radio, Movie Creator, TrackID, Sketch, SwiftKey, AR Effect, Spotify, Facebook, Amazon Shopping, Xperia Lounge, Kobo eBooks, Sky Go, AVG Protection, 24 Months Warranty, fanless
Weight
137 g ( = 4.83 oz / 0.3 pounds), Power Supply: 54 g ( = 1.9 oz / 0.12 pounds)
Price
300 EUR

 

Case

As mentioned in the introduction, the casing of the Xperia XA primarily catches the attention with its particularly slim design. It has a width of just 66.8 millimeters (~2.6 in) to which the very narrow display bezel of less than one millimeter contributes. By comparison: Microsoft's Lumia 650, also equipped with a 5-inch screen, is 4.1 millimeters (~0.2 in) wider. The touchscreen's seamless transition into the lateral frame also looks well-implemented. However, the review sample does not stand out from its rivals favorably in terms of the other dimensions, and some users might consider it rather too long due to its unusual proportions. Sony primarily relies on plastic for the casing's material; metal is only used on the bezel's long lateral edges. This combination makes a relatively low weight of 137 grams (~5 oz) possible.

With its evenly spaced gaps and rounded surfaces on the front and rear, the smartphone is pleasant to hold and leaves a high-quality impression. At most, the slightly rough transition between the glass and metal on the touchscreen's sides in some places could be criticized. It is also too bad that the first hairline scratches on both the screen and smartphone's back were visible at the end of the test - using a somewhat more robust material would certainly not have hurt the looks in the long run.

The construction proved quite stable and our twisting attempts did not cause any major deformations or disconcerting noises. Nevertheless, it is too bad that light pressure on the display bezel causes wave formations on the screen quite easily. The maintenance options are limited to replacing the SIM and micro-SD card; the battery is non-removable.

Sony Xperia XA front
Sony Xperia XA front
Sony Xperia XA front
Sony Xperia XA front
Sony Xperia XA rear
Sony Xperia XA side
Sony Xperia XA camera
Sony Xperia XA card slots

Size Comparison

Connectivity

The smartphone has a 16 GB flash storage for photos, apps, and such. However, with roughly 8.4 GB available capacity, only about half of it can be used in the state of delivery - the rivals often have a bit more to offer despite a nominally identical storage capacity. It is also possible to expand the Xperia XA by up to 200 GB. This is not a full-fledged replacement as the memory card cannot be implemented in the internal storage. At least files, such as photos and videos, and App2SD-supporting programs can be moved to it. A traditional 3.5-mm headset jack is installed for audio output. Data sharing is possible via a conventional micro-USB port with OTG functionality.

In addition, the smartphone supports video transmission via Miracast and media streaming via DLNA. NFC and a notification LED are also on board. The Xperia XA buyer will not find a fingerprint scanner, such as found in Huawei's P9 Lite.

Upper edge: Microphone, 3.5-mm headset jack
Upper edge: Microphone, 3.5-mm headset jack
Lower edge: Micro-USB port, microphone, speaker
Lower edge: Micro-USB port, microphone, speaker
Left: Card slot flap
Left: Card slot flap
Right: Camera release, volume control, power button
Right: Camera release, volume control, power button

Software

Sony ships the new model with Android 6.0 ex-factory. However, it is too bad that the manufacturer is rather slow with updates - the security patch from April 1st 2016 was still installed after looking for updates.

Sony has modified the Android user interface carefully and added some convenient features. These are mainly visual modifications to the graphic elements such as icons and backgrounds. The user still has to scroll vertically through the app drawer.

As well as typical Sony apps (Xperia Lounge, Playstation, What's New, Movie Creator, Sketch, TrackID), Sony has unfortunately preloaded several third-party programs such as Amazon Shopping, Facebook, Kobo eBooks, AVG Protection, Sky Go, and Spotify. Although they can all be deactivated, they cannot be uninstalled.

Home screen
App drawer
App drawer
Quick settings
Recently used apps
Software version

Communication & GPS

As well as the standard GSM and UMTS frequencies, the Xperia XA's mobile network modem also supports LTE Cat. 4 with up to 150 Mbit/s in download and 50 Mbit/s in upload. The handset can connect to both 2.4 and 5 GHz networks via Wi-Fi. However, the  latest ac-standard is absent. In the speed test with our Linksys EA8500 reference router, the smartphone clearly outperforms cheaper handsets without 5 GHz Wi-Fi, such as Wiko's Lenny 3 or Honor's 5C, with gross data rates of 92.5 Mbit/s and 83.6 Mbit/s. It is, however, far from its more expensive Xperia X sister model or premium smartphones from Huawei or Samsung. Furthermore, our review sample supports data transfer via Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC for near-field communication.

Networking
iperf Server (receive) TCP 1 m
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
303 MBit/s ∼100% +228%
Huawei P9
Mali-T880 MP4, Kirin 955, 32 GB eMMC Flash
249 MBit/s ∼82% +169%
Sony Xperia X
Adreno 510, 650 MSM8956, 32 GB eMMC Flash
244 MBit/s ∼81% +164%
Sony Xperia XA
Mali-T860 MP2, Helio P10 MT6755, 16 GB eMMC Flash
92.5 MBit/s ∼31%
Honor 5C
Mali-T830 MP2, Kirin 650, 16 GB eMMC Flash
49.8 MBit/s ∼16% -46%
Wiko Lenny 3
Mali-400 MP2, MT6580M, 16 GB eMMC Flash
44.8 MBit/s ∼15% -52%
iperf Client (transmit) TCP 1 m
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
290 MBit/s ∼100% +247%
Sony Xperia X
Adreno 510, 650 MSM8956, 32 GB eMMC Flash
219 MBit/s ∼76% +162%
Huawei P9
Mali-T880 MP4, Kirin 955, 32 GB eMMC Flash
205 MBit/s ∼71% +145%
Sony Xperia XA
Mali-T860 MP2, Helio P10 MT6755, 16 GB eMMC Flash
83.6 MBit/s ∼29%
Honor 5C
Mali-T830 MP2, Kirin 650, 16 GB eMMC Flash
58.3 MBit/s ∼20% -30%
Wiko Lenny 3
Mali-400 MP2, MT6580M, 16 GB eMMC Flash
49.2 MBit/s ∼17% -41%
GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

The GPS module in the Xperia XA quickly finds the user's current position outdoors and in many cases connecting to satellite networks also functioned smoothly in the indoors. According to the app, the Xperia XA has an accuracy of up to a meter (3 ft) - an outstanding outcome. Our test route where we let the smartphone compete against Garmin's Edge 500 bike computer reveals whether this has a positive impact in practical situations. The Xperia XA is slightly disappointing after the initially very good rates with a total deviation of almost 3% in length and a rather rough logging of the driven route - particularly in the area of the turning point. Nevertheless, the actual performance should be more than sufficient for normal navigation purposes.

Garmin Edge 500 - route
Garmin Edge 500 - route
Garmin Edge 500 - underpass
Garmin Edge 500 - underpass
Garmin Edge 500 - turning point
Garmin Edge 500 - turning point
Sony Xperia XA - route
Sony Xperia XA - route
Sony Xperia XA - underpass
Sony Xperia XA - underpass
Sony Xperia XA - turning point
Sony Xperia XA - turning point

Telephone & Call Quality

Phone app: Main page
Phone app: Main page
Phone app: Keypad
Phone app: Keypad

Sony still relies on the familiar app from its Z-line for phone functionality. Many features are found on the main page, such as a search box for contacts, call list, and an overview of frequently called numbers. A keypad and address book can be accessed directly via faded-in icons.

The sufficient volume and clear voices at both ends of the call were good, when making calls using the earpiece. However, a quiet and not really annoying noise was sometimes audible. Using the headset for making calls also functioned very well. The tide turns when using hands-free mode: Both the speaker that is only sufficiently loud in quiet environments and the tinny-sounding microphone with too quiet voice recording prevented a relaxed conversation with the contact.

Cameras

Webcam photo (click for original)
Webcam photo (click for original)
Primary camera photo (click for original)
Primary camera photo (click for original)
Primary camera panorama photo (click for original)
Primary camera panorama photo (click for original)

The primary camera in Sony's Xperia XA has a category-standard resolution of 13 megapixels. It has also been equipped to a hybrid autofocus that makes it possible to take snapshots very quickly. An 8-megapixel webcam is installed on the front, which - uncharacteristically - also has autofocus. Both cameras have an aperture of f/2.0 and record videos with a maximum of Full HD at 30 frames per second.

While we liked the primary camera's fast autofocus and physical release button, the photo quality does not stand out significantly from other mid-range opponents: Firstly, some photos look unusually pale (scene 1), and secondly, grass and leaves often merge into green pulp (scene 2). Unfortunately, the review sample does not really shine in low-light conditions, although Sony boasts with "stunning low-light shots" (scene 3). The combination of strong noise cancellation and the absence of an optical image stabilizer is probably the reason for this. Premium models, such as Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge or OnePlus' 3, produce sharper photos across the board. However, the achieved quality is still acceptable for a mid-range handset. We also noticed that slightly more than 10 centimeters (~4 in) of  distance to the object is needed for macro photos than with many other smartphones.

The selfie camera on the front made a good impression. Thanks to its autofocus, it produces a nice depth of field in selfies, but it can also shoot comparatively sharp landscape photos when desired (see comparison photo).

Videos recorded with both cameras look smooth thanks to 30 frames per second. However, the brightness differences in panning shots are quite harsh and the simultaneous audio recording sounds rather muffled. Furthermore, the primary camera's autofocus is unreliable as it refocuses after movements - often unnecessarily. On the other hand, the optional electronic image stabilizer "SteadyShot" that can be activated, functions efficiently, but its use involves a slightly tighter camera viewing angle.

In addition to automatic, the camera app offers a manual mode where the user can set the ISO rate and white balance. Furthermore, scene modes, such as night shots or animals, can be found here. Panoramas can be created via the "Camera Apps" mode that provides additional functions. The quality of the panorama shots is not satisfactory due to numerous image errors (see sample photo).

Camera app: Clever automatic
Camera app: Clever automatic
Camera app: Additional modes
Camera app: Additional modes

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3

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We test whether the primary camera in the Xperia XA reproduces colors accurately by taking a photo of X-Rite's ColorChecker Passport in controlled light conditions and compare it with the actual reference colors. The photo is not edited afterward, for example, via manual white balance.

It is clearly visible that the reproduction of most colors is too saturated, which is particularly true for red tones. Furthermore, a slight underexposure becomes obvious in the photo when looking at the grayscale levels' brightness.

Blurred details that are sometimes seen in our sample photos are not observed when photographing our test chart in defined artificial light. The camera does a very good job here and hardly presents weaknesses for a mid-range handset. Only a slight decrease in sharpness is evident toward the corners. Many mid-range rivals, such as Samsung's Galaxy J5 (2016), do a worse job here.

Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.
Test picture section
Test picture section
Test picture (click for original)
Test picture (click for original)

Accessories & Warranty

In addition to the smartphone, the buyer will find an in-ear headset that, unlike many headphones nowadays, is not inserted directly into the ear canal, but rather sits on the ear cup in the box of the Xperia XA. Furthermore, a 7.5-watt power supply (1.5 A/5V) alongside a micro-USB cable and quick start guide are included. Sony lists various covers, a docking station, and a quick charger that supports MediaTek's Pump Express+ 2.0 as matching original accessories. Unfortunately, the latter was not available at the time of testing.

Sony includes a 2-year warranty on the smartphone and a 1-year warranty on included accessories in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Input Devices & Handling

Sony has preloaded the keyboard solution "SwiftKey" on the Xperia XA. Both its looks and functionality can be adapted extensively to meet the user's needs. It is also possible to enter text via swipe.

The physical keys on the casing's right can be discerned well, thanks to their different shapes. It is also good that the camera has a dedicated button, which also launches the photo app in standby when pressed slightly longer. The build is solid, but the pressure point of the relatively sticky volume control was rather spongy in our review sample.

Unfortunately, the touchscreen in the review sample had recurrent problems. Sometimes it did not detect inputs correctly for no obvious reason, making it impossible, for example, to open quick settings or notifications via swipe. This phenomenon was also observed when browsing, in the form of a shaky implementation of zoom gestures. However, the touchscreen always recovered after a short break and functioned impeccably and accurately for a while. On the other hand, the integrated position sensor always rotated the content according to the smartphone's position quite reliably.

Although slight hiccups were perceived when scrolling slowly through menus or websites, this does not apply to the subjective total performance. Other animations are rendered smoothly in routine use, and the smartphone did not present any unusually prolonged waiting times. It is, however, too bad that the screen in the Xperia XA cannot be activated from standby via double tapping. The power button on the side has to be used for this.

Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode

Display

Subpixel grid
Subpixel grid

The Xperia XA is equipped with a 5-inch LC display with  a resolution of 1280x720 pixels. This equates to a pixel density of 294 PPI. Although some rivalling models, such as Huawei's P9 Lite or ZTE's Blade V7, boast with an even higher resolution in this price range, pixel structures are not visible in the Xperia XA at a normal viewing distance.

Sony's smartphone places itself at the top with an average brightness of 475 cd/m² on a completely white screen – only Huawei's P9 Lite can offer a similarly bright screen among the opponents. The maximum brightness does not change significantly when displaying equally distributed bright and dark areas on the screen (average picture level/APL 50). However, this increases to a maximum of 572 cd/m² when the review sample's light sensor is enabled. The somewhat uneven illumination of 81% is not as good. With a contrast of 849:1, the Xperia XA places itself right between Huawei's P9 Lite and ZTE's Blade V7, also with an IPS panel. The relatively high contrast of 0.61 cd/m² prevents achieving a better contrast, despite the high maximum brightness. On the positive side, there is hardly any visible clouding on the review sample's screen even in unfavorable conditions.

The smartphone behaved strangely as soon as the minimum screen brightness was selected manually. Despite this setting, the backlight's intensity fluctuated slightly depending on the displayed content.

421
cd/m²
471
cd/m²
502
cd/m²
435
cd/m²
518
cd/m²
518
cd/m²
439
cd/m²
479
cd/m²
492
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 518 cd/m² Average: 475 cd/m² Minimum: 4.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Center on Battery: 518 cd/m²
Contrast: 849:1 (Black: 0.61 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 6.8 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 7 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
Gamma: 2.35
Sony Xperia XA
IPS, 1280x720, 5
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
AMOLED, 1280x720, 5.2
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
Super AMOLED, 1280x720, 4.7
Huawei P9 Lite
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
ZTE Blade V7
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
Microsoft Lumia 650
OLED, 1280x720, 5
Screen
10%
34%
10%
-14%
20%
Brightness middle
518
289
-44%
386
-25%
505
-3%
409
-21%
349
-33%
Brightness
475
291
-39%
394
-17%
468
-1%
411
-13%
353
-26%
Brightness Distribution
81
96
19%
88
9%
88
9%
96
19%
92
14%
Black Level *
0.61
0.74
-21%
0.38
38%
Contrast
849
682
-20%
1076
27%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
6.8
4.7
31%
1.11
84%
4.1
40%
9.4
-38%
2.6
62%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
11.4
7.3
36%
3.35
71%
5.8
49%
17.6
-54%
8.2
28%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
7
3
57%
1.34
81%
4.9
30%
11.6
-66%
1.8
74%
Gamma
2.35 102%
2.03 118%
2.12 113%
2.5 96%
2.25 107%
2.06 117%
CCT
8151 80%
6291 103%
6441 101%
7116 91%
9597 68%
6542 99%

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 54 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8882 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
22 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 7 ms rise
↘ 15 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 22 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (25.9 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
26 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 9 ms rise
↘ 17 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 10 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (41.4 ms).

The Xperia XA offers some options for customizing the color reproduction. The user can enable an image optimizer via either "Bravia Engine 2" or "Super-Vivid Mode", or the white balance can be adapted cross-system via a slider. The color temperature of 8151 K is clearly higher than the ideal rate of 6500 K when using Bravia Engine and default white balance, which becomes visible in a bluish tint in the grayscale levels. The color deviations of the Xperia XA are also much higher than the ideal range (less than 3) with DeltaE rates of 6.8 (colors) and 7 (grayscale). Almost all rivaling models present a better calibration; only ZTE's Blade V7 steps out of line with much larger aberrations here. Subjectively, the measured inaccuracies are not noticed in everyday use.

Grayscale (profile: Bravia, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (profile: Bravia, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (profile: Bravia, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (profile: Bravia, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (profile: Bravia, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (profile: Bravia, target color space sRGB)
Colorspace (profile: Bravia, target color space sRGB)
Colorspace (profile: Bravia, target color space sRGB)

Overall, the Xperia XA is quite suitable for outdoor use, thanks to its relatively high brightness. However, a shaded place is recommended in cases of direct sunlight or stronger reflections since only high-contrast image areas can then still be recognized.

Outdoors in direct sunlight
Outdoors in direct sunlight
Outdoors on a sunny day in the shade
Outdoors on a sunny day in the shade

In terms of viewing angle stability, the Xperia XA proves to be much weaker than its more expensive Xperia X sister model and rivals equipped with OLED panels. Although thanks to the IPS technology the image never inverts, the user has to live with clear changes in color tones and brightness decrease in flatter viewing angles.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

Unlike Sony's more expensive Xperia X, a Qualcomm SoC is not installed in the Xperia XA but rather a processor from MediaTek. The Helio P10 chip consists of 8 ARM Cortex A53 cores that clock at a maximum of 2 GHz. An ARM Mali-T860 MP2 graphics unit is present. The working memory of 2 GB is average compared with the Android opponents: While Samsung's Galaxy A3 (2016)  offers only 1.5 GB, Huawei's P9 Lite can shine with a generous 3 GB.

As a SoC from the upper mid-range, the Helio P10 gives a superb performance and makes the Xperia XA look very good compared with most rivals. Only Huawei's P9 Lite delivers somewhat better scores in the AnTuTu, PCMark, and BaseMark benchmarks. Sony’s choice of a lower resolution HD panel  pays off in the GFXBench and 3DMark graphic tests. Although the Huawei P9 Lite’s Full HD screen is often slightly better in the offscreen tests, it loses its lead as soon as an image is really rendered. Consequently, the review sample takes the benchmark crown in this subfield.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
48331 Points ∼21%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
27232 Points ∼12% -44%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
35964 Points ∼16% -26%
Huawei P9 Lite
50366 Points ∼22% +4%
ZTE Blade V7
37070 Points ∼16% -23%
Microsoft Lumia 650
31844 Points ∼14% -34%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
4685 Points ∼46%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
4126 Points ∼40% -12%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4051 Points ∼39% -14%
Huawei P9 Lite
5339 Points ∼52% +14%
ZTE Blade V7
3947 Points ∼38% -16%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
717 Points ∼42%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
551 Points ∼32% -23%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
756 Points ∼45% +5%
Huawei P9 Lite
765 Points ∼45% +7%
ZTE Blade V7
10 Points ∼1% -99%
Microsoft Lumia 650
546 Points ∼32% -24%
Graphics (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
669 Points ∼7%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
312 Points ∼3% -53%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
415 Points ∼4% -38%
Huawei P9 Lite
818 Points ∼9% +22%
ZTE Blade V7
430 Points ∼5% -36%
Microsoft Lumia 650
207 Points ∼2% -69%
System (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
2289 Points ∼22%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
1060 Points ∼10% -54%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
1380 Points ∼13% -40%
Huawei P9 Lite
2438 Points ∼24% +7%
ZTE Blade V7
1188 Points ∼12% -48%
Microsoft Lumia 650
552 Points ∼5% -76%
Overall (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
1043 Points ∼24%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
585 Points ∼14% -44%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
662 Points ∼15% -37%
Huawei P9 Lite
1197 Points ∼28% +15%
ZTE Blade V7
249 Points ∼6% -76%
Microsoft Lumia 650
435 Points ∼10% -58%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
18 fps ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
5.2 fps ∼0% -71%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
12 fps ∼1% -33%
Huawei P9 Lite
19 fps ∼1% +6%
ZTE Blade V7
12 fps ∼1% -33%
Microsoft Lumia 650
3.25 fps ∼0% -82%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
28 fps ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
9.7 fps ∼2% -65%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
20 fps ∼4% -29%
Huawei P9 Lite
19 fps ∼4% -32%
ZTE Blade V7
12 fps ∼3% -57%
Microsoft Lumia 650
5.67 fps ∼1% -80%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
7.2 fps ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
1.8 fps ∼0% -75%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4.1 fps ∼1% -43%
Huawei P9 Lite
7.8 fps ∼1% +8%
ZTE Blade V7
4.5 fps ∼1% -37%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
15 fps ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
3.8 fps ∼1% -75%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
8.4 fps ∼2% -44%
Huawei P9 Lite
8.4 fps ∼2% -44%
ZTE Blade V7
4.5 fps ∼1% -70%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
4.8 fps ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
fps ∼0% -100%
Huawei P9 Lite
4.5 fps ∼1% -6%
ZTE Blade V7
2.9 fps ∼1% -40%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
11 fps ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
fps ∼0% -100%
Huawei P9 Lite
4.9 fps ∼3% -55%
ZTE Blade V7
2.9 fps ∼2% -74%
GFXBench 4.0
off screen Car Chase Offscreen (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
2.5 fps ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
fps ∼0% -100%
Huawei P9 Lite
2.8 fps ∼1% +12%
on screen Car Chase Onscreen (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
5.4 fps ∼5%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
fps ∼0% -100%
Huawei P9 Lite
2.9 fps ∼2% -46%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
1259 Points ∼35%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
709 Points ∼19% -44%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
916 Points ∼25% -27%
Huawei P9 Lite
1373 Points ∼38% +9%
ZTE Blade V7
944 Points ∼26% -25%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
525 Points ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
42 Points ∼1% -92%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
235 Points ∼3% -55%
Huawei P9 Lite
473 Points ∼6% -10%
ZTE Blade V7
245 Points ∼3% -53%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
603 Points ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
53 Points ∼1% -91%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
281 Points ∼4% -53%
Huawei P9 Lite
554 Points ∼9% -8%
ZTE Blade V7
293 Points ∼5% -51%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
12138 Points ∼15%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
9022 Points ∼11% -26%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
11653 Points ∼15% -4%
Huawei P9 Lite
13676 Points ∼17% +13%
ZTE Blade V7
10430 Points ∼13% -14%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
10916 Points ∼2%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
3838 Points ∼1% -65%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
6522 Points ∼1% -40%
Huawei P9 Lite
11318 Points ∼2% +4%
ZTE Blade V7
6170 Points ∼1% -43%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
11156 Points ∼5%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
4400 Points ∼2% -61%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
7229 Points ∼3% -35%
Huawei P9 Lite
11769 Points ∼6% +5%
ZTE Blade V7
6786 Points ∼3% -39%

Legend

 
Sony Xperia XA Mediatek Helio P10 MT6755, ARM Mali-T860 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016 Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 Samsung Exynos 7578, ARM Mali-T720 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei P9 Lite HiSilicon Kirin 650, ARM Mali-T830 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
ZTE Blade V7 Mediatek MT6753, ARM Mali-T720 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Microsoft Lumia 650 Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 APQ8009, Qualcomm Adreno 304, 16 GB eMMC Flash

The familiar pecking order is seen again in the browser benchmarks: While the Xperia XA and P9 Lite are neck and neck at the forefront, the other comparison devices all lag behind.

Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
9609.8 ms * ∼16%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
13046 ms * ∼22% -36%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
11796.2 ms * ∼20% -23%
Huawei P9 Lite
9396.5 ms * ∼16% +2%
ZTE Blade V7
13761.1 ms * ∼23% -43%
Microsoft Lumia 650
18237.4 ms * ∼31% -90%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
4046 Points ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
2730 Points ∼6% -33%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
3566 Points ∼7% -12%
Huawei P9 Lite
4756 Points ∼10% +18%
ZTE Blade V7
2689 Points ∼5% -34%
Microsoft Lumia 650
2574 Points ∼5% -36%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
72 Points ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
47 Points ∼6% -35%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
64 Points ∼8% -11%
Huawei P9 Lite
67 Points ∼8% -7%
Microsoft Lumia 650
52 Points ∼6% -28%
JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
27.5 Points ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
16.8 Points ∼5% -39%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
22.1 Points ∼7% -20%
Huawei P9 Lite
29.03 Points ∼9% +6%
ZTE Blade V7
18.19 Points ∼5% -34%

* ... smaller is better

Although the 16 GB flash memory in the Xperia XA does not achieve a top ranking in Androbench 3 with its performance rates, a place in the midfield is always achieved when compared with the competition. The relatively fast sequential read speed of approximately 240 MB/s is particularly noticeable. Only Huawei's P9 Lite surpasses it here. However, there is still some elbowroom in random read processes: The Blade V7 and, again, the P9 Lite outrun the review sample. The outcome of the BaseMark OS II memory benchmark also fits in this picture: The Xperia XA takes the second place behind Huawei's P9 Lite.

It looks similarly solid with the memory card slot's interface. Using our Toshiba Exceria Pro M401 (THN-M401S0640E2, UHS-I Class 3, max. read: 95 MB/s, max. write: 80 MB/s) reference card, we determined the best write rate in the comparison field with 50.68 MB/s, and the read rate of 72.87 MB/s is also within reach of the leader, Samsung's Galaxy J5 (2016), - a superb performance.

AndroBench 3-5
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
50.68 MB/s ∼58%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
46.61 MB/s ∼53% -8%
Huawei P9 Lite
25.1 MB/s ∼29% -50%
ZTE Blade V7
20.89 MB/s ∼24% -59%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
72.87 MB/s ∼76%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
79.83 MB/s ∼83% +10%
Huawei P9 Lite
60.81 MB/s ∼63% -17%
ZTE Blade V7
43.67 MB/s ∼45% -40%
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
10.6 MB/s ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
11.6 MB/s ∼7% +9%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
10.27 MB/s ∼6% -3%
Huawei P9 Lite
15.35 MB/s ∼9% +45%
ZTE Blade V7
7.58 MB/s ∼5% -28%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
22.05 MB/s ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
21 MB/s ∼12% -5%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
21.92 MB/s ∼13% -1%
Huawei P9 Lite
38.22 MB/s ∼22% +73%
ZTE Blade V7
28.07 MB/s ∼16% +27%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
68.64 MB/s ∼30%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
72 MB/s ∼32% +5%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
27.27 MB/s ∼12% -60%
Huawei P9 Lite
46.24 MB/s ∼20% -33%
ZTE Blade V7
39.45 MB/s ∼17% -43%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
240.43 MB/s ∼29%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
147 MB/s ∼18% -39%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
168.79 MB/s ∼20% -30%
Huawei P9 Lite
283.55 MB/s ∼34% +18%
ZTE Blade V7
196.76 MB/s ∼24% -18%
BaseMark OS II - Memory (sort by value)
Sony Xperia XA
1076 Points ∼22%
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
643 Points ∼13% -40%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
443 Points ∼9% -59%
Huawei P9 Lite
1346 Points ∼28% +25%
ZTE Blade V7
790 Points ∼16% -27%
Microsoft Lumia 650
575 Points ∼12% -47%

Games

As the previous benchmark scores have clearly proven, the Mali-T860 MP2 graphics chip in the Xperia XA together with the screen's moderate resolution of 1280x720 pixels ensure a fast performance. Thus, in practice, even demanding games such as "Asphalt 8" or "Dead Trigger 2" can be played smoothly using high-quality settings.

While the integrated position sensors function inconspicuously well during games, the very noticeable temperature increase on the handset's rear could be quite annoying. The speaker situated on the side will not normally be covered by a hand - and if so, the sound is almost inaudible.

"Asphalt 8"
"Asphalt 8"
"Dead Trigger 2"
"Dead Trigger 2"
Asphalt 8: Airborne
 SettingsValue
 high27 fps
 very low29 fps
Dead Trigger 2
 SettingsValue
 high59 fps

Emissions

System Noise

The smartphone itself is silent since it is cooled passively. However, we observed a relatively prominent coil whining from the included power supply that was still audible a few meters away in a quiet environment, particularly when the battery was fully charged.

Temperature

The surface temperatures of the Xperia XA prove that a slim casing and a relatively strong processor are not always a good team. While the average idle temperatures of 33.4 °C (~92 °F) on the front and 31.7 °C (~89 °F) on the back are still within a normal range, the smartphone heats up to over 40 °C (~104 °F) during load. Although this is not really hot, it could cause moist hands, especially in the summer. The rivals usually remain a few degrees cooler. Only the similarly powerful Huawei P9 Lite reaches a comparable top rate, that is, however, limited to spots.

It is, however, pleasing that the SoC does not throttle its clock speed due to the temperatures. The GFXBench battery test that performs the T-Rex test thirty times in succession and logs both the performance and battery consumption did not present any weaknesses here. The processing performance remains stable.

GFXBench: Performance
GFXBench: Performance
GFXBench: Frame times
GFXBench: Frame times
GFXBench: Battery consumption
GFXBench: Battery consumption
Max. Load
 41.7 °C
107 F
41.6 °C
107 F
37.1 °C
99 F
 
 42 °C
108 F
41.6 °C
107 F
36.6 °C
98 F
 
 40.4 °C
105 F
40.2 °C
104 F
36.3 °C
97 F
 
Maximum: 42 °C = 108 F
Average: 39.7 °C = 103 F
33.9 °C
93 F
38.2 °C
101 F
41.4 °C
107 F
35.4 °C
96 F
37.4 °C
99 F
41.7 °C
107 F
32.3 °C
90 F
38.4 °C
101 F
41.5 °C
107 F
Maximum: 41.7 °C = 107 F
Average: 37.8 °C = 100 F
Power Supply (max.)  30.5 °C = 87 F | Room Temperature 21.4 °C = 71 F | Voltcraft IR-260

Speaker

Speaker characteristics
Speaker characteristics

The Xperia XA's speaker is situated on the handset's lower edge, and thus the smartphone's sound is not impaired when placed on a table. However, the sound is almost completely inaudible when it is held in the hands and the small opening is covered accidentally. Furthermore, the maximum volume is quite low with at most 82.02 dB(A) in our Pink Noise test. This places the Xperia XA on one of the last places in our database compared with other smartphones. At the same time, the minimum volume is relatively high, resulting in a limited control range. The frequency response analysis clearly shows a clear deficiency in the medium-high tones and bass range. This results in a fairly thin sound subjectively that fortunately, does not become piercing and is mostly free of distortion.

The included headset is good, with a balanced sound. We did not observe any static via the 3.5-mm headset jack either.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs202832.4282533.331.333.33132.531.732.54034.92634.95047.639.447.66333.736.233.78030.728.630.710027.925.427.912530.421.330.416033.223.333.220035.122.535.125041.822.441.831545.421.345.44005018.45050055.817.555.863060.517.560.58006717.267100067.416.867.4125068.117.368.1160064.817.464.8200058.716.658.725006417.364315071.517.671.540007417.674500074.517.774.5630073.917.473.980007117.7711000069.417.969.41250058.318.158.31600048.918.148.9SPL8229.882N48.51.348.5median 60.5Sony Xperia XAmedian 17.7median 60.5Delta11.61.611.640.731.832.440.732.731.831.332.730.834.231.730.831.830.42631.836.633.139.436.633.330.936.233.332.42528.632.429.624.325.429.631.523.921.331.536.324.323.336.344.329.822.544.352.236.622.452.257.341.721.357.362.747.118.462.764.950.117.564.96752.517.56769.153.917.269.17254.216.8727454.217.37475.755.317.475.775.756.916.675.776.157.817.376.17757.917.67779.159.517.679.180.161.117.780.178.359.417.478.377.358.417.777.378.859.717.978.872.953.518.172.956.83718.156.888.469.529.888.473.724.21.373.7median 72Huawei P9 Litemedian 53.9median 17.7median 7211.19.91.611.1hearing rangehide median Pink Noise

Frequency diagram in comparison (check boxes above can be turned on/off!)
Rate 1: Pink Noise 100% volume; Rate 2: Audio off

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Our comparison chart shows that powerful hardware exhausts the power reserves quicker: The handsets from SamsungMicrosoft and ZTE, all equipped with somewhat weaker SoCs, almost always consume less power than the Xperia XA with its fast octa-core processor. Only the slightly faster Huawei's P9 Lite  needs more energy on average than the review sample.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.04 / 0.22 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.72 / 1.5 / 1.57 Watt
Load midlight 3.48 / 6.04 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Gossen Metrahit Energy
Sony Xperia XA
2300 mAh
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
3100 mAh
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
2300 mAh
Huawei P9 Lite
3000 mAh
ZTE Blade V7
2540 mAh
Microsoft Lumia 650
2000 mAh
Power Consumption
20%
10%
-15%
10%
14%
Idle Minimum *
0.72
0.61
15%
0.96
-33%
0.73
-1%
0.73
-1%
0.7
3%
Idle Average *
1.5
1.41
6%
1.39
7%
2.09
-39%
0.92
39%
1.1
27%
Idle Maximum *
1.57
1.51
4%
1.45
8%
2.11
-34%
0.93
41%
1.18
25%
Load Average *
3.48
2.56
26%
2.65
24%
4.15
-19%
4.47
-28%
4.04
-16%
Load Maximum *
6.04
3.1
49%
3.51
42%
5.05
16%
5.96
1%
4.07
33%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

Due to the relatively high power consumption and comparatively small 2300 mAh battery, the Xperia XA does not have good preconditions in the race for the longest battery life. With 5 hours and 53 minutes in the practical Wi-Fi test, it clearly lags behind most opponents. The Galaxy A3 (2016) manages over four and a half hours longer here. Microsoft's Lumia 650 with an even smaller battery is only marginally inferior. Apart from this exception, the review sample takes the last place in all other tests.

Therefore, the Xperia XA's two energy-savings modes are particularly important. The normal "Stamina" mode that limits the handset's performance, background activities, and screen brightness, and also disables vibration feedback is the sensible choice for anyone who wants to use the smartphone as usual. This way, a few extra minutes of battery life could be retrieved from the handset in everyday use. However, this setting did not have an impact on our test of the maximum battery life. The "Ultra-Stamina" mode should result in a much longer battery life, but all online features are then disabled.

We discovered that the smartphone apparently has some emergency reserves in our runtime tests. At a battery state of 1%, it reproducibly remained active for approximately 6% of the total runtime. The Xperia XA supports the quick charging technology "Pump Express+ 2.0" for recharging the battery as fast as possible. However, the necessary charger, UCH12, is not included, and it was not available in any online stores at the time of testing. The included 7.5-watt power supply needed just under two hours for a complete recharge cycle; according to the display, 70% of the total capacity was reached after roughly one hour.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
12h 55min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
5h 53min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
7h 40min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 50min
Sony Xperia XA
2300 mAh
Samsung Galaxy J5 2016
3100 mAh
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
2300 mAh
Huawei P9 Lite
3000 mAh
ZTE Blade V7
2540 mAh
Microsoft Lumia 650
2000 mAh
Battery Runtime
92%
111%
59%
47%
13%
Reader / Idle
775
1599
106%
1978
155%
1404
81%
910
17%
H.264
460
658
43%
863
88%
568
23%
510
11%
WiFi v1.3
353
643
82%
628
78%
604
71%
519
47%
345
-2%
Load
170
402
136%
376
121%
272
60%
213
25%

Pros

+ slim casing
+ dedicated camera button
+ micro-SD slot with App2SD
+ Micacast , USB OTG and DLNA support
+ 5 GHz WiFi
+ decent front-facing camera with autofocus
+ bright screen
+ decent total performance
+ Android 6.0 Marshmallow
+ good call quality via earpiece
+ Quick Charge support

Cons

- short battery life
- no fingerprint scanner
- touchscreen issues in review sample
- poor hands-free performance
- primary camera's focus issues in videos
- non-removable battery
- No Pump Express+ 2.0 charger included

Verdict

In review: Sony Xperia XA (F3111). Review sample courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de
In review: Sony Xperia XA (F3111). Review sample courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de

Sony's new Xperia XA mid-range smartphone reaps in some plus points with its good configuration: The 16 GB internal storage is easily expandable with a micro-SD card, the micro-USB port is OTG compatible, and NFC is also on board. However, a fingerprint scanner for unlocking the smartphone comfortably is absent. Photo enthusiasts will probably be pleased with the dedicated release button, and the primary camera's relatively high resolution and autofocus. As common in this category, compromises will have to be made in terms of image quality. We also liked the good performance of the installed MediaTek SoC and bright screen. The recurrent touchscreen issues, however, were annoying during the test. An absolute no-go for many potential buyers will probably be the below-average battery life.

The Xperia XA will primarily catch the attention with its slim line, but the inner values in the form of a fast SoC, bright screen, and expandable storage are also very convincing. It is ultimately the short battery life that ruins the review sample's otherwise decent outcome.

At a market price of approximately 270 Euros (~$302), the Xperia XA is situated within the upper price scale for current mid-range smartphones. Huawei's P9 Lite in particular has proved to be a worthy opponent in many aspects in the test. It offers some advantages with a larger screen, longer battery life and integrated fingerprint scanner, and it is also available for a starting price of approximately 270 Euros (~$302).

Sony Xperia XA - 08/10/2016 v5.1
Andreas Kilian

Chassis
83%
Keyboard
68 / 75 → 90%
Pointing Device
77%
Connectivity
45 / 60 → 74%
Weight
93%
Battery
88%
Display
81%
Games Performance
25 / 63 → 40%
Application Performance
44 / 70 → 63%
Temperature
87%
Noise
100%
Audio
56 / 91 → 62%
Camera
70%
Average
71%
81%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Sony Xperia XA Smartphone Review
Andreas Kilian, 2016-08-14 (Update: 2018-05-15)