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Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra

Colours:
default
Features:
  • Supports Indian bands
  • VoLTE
  • 64 GB + 256 GB Expandable
  • Dual SIM: Nano + Nano
  • No Fingerprint sensor
  • Gorilla Glass 4
  • USB OTG Support
  • FM Radio

Highlights from Expert Review

Pros
  • Premium and solid build
  • Satisfactory performance
  • Well optimised Xperia UI
  • Good front camera with OIS
Cons
  • Feels hefty in hand
  • No fingerprint sensor
  • No 4K video recording
  • Camera focussing issue

Specifications

General
Launch DateJuly 20, 2017 (Official)
BrandSony
ModelXperia XA1 Ultra
Operating SystemAndroid v7.0 (Nougat)
SIM Slot(s)Dual SIM, GSM+GSM
SIM SizeSIM1: Nano
Network4G: Available (supports Indian bands)
Fingerprint Sensor
Quick Chargingyes
Design
Height165 mm
Width79 mm
Thickness8.1 mm
Weight188 grams
ColoursBlack, Gold, Pink, White
Display
Screen Size6.0 inches (15.24 cm)
Screen ResolutionFull HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
Pixel Density367 ppi
Display TypeIPS LCD
Screen ProtectionCorning Gorilla Glass v4
Touch Screenyes
Screen to Body Ratio (calculated)75.96 %
Performance
ChipsetMediaTek MT6757
ProcessorOcta core (2.3 GHz, Quad core, Cortex A53 + 1.6 GHz, Quad core, Cortex A53)
Architecture64 bit
GraphicsMali-T880 MP2
RAM4 GB
Storage
Internal Memory64 GB
Expandable Memoryyes
USB OTG Supportyes
Camera
Resolution16 MP Front Camera
SensorExmor-R CMOS
Autofocusyes
Physical ApertureF2.0
Optical Image Stabilisation
Flashyes
Image Resolution5536 x 4152 Pixels
SettingsExposure compensation, ISO control
Shooting ModesContinuos Shooting, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR)
Camera Features5 x Digital Zoom, Auto Flash, Face detection, Touch to focus
Video Recording1920x1080 @ 30 fps
Battery
Capacity2700 mAh
TypeLi-ion
User Replaceable
Quick Chargingyes
Network & Connectivity
SIM SizeSIM1: Nano, SIM2: Nano
Network Support4G (supports Indian bands), 3G, 2G
VoLTEyes
SIM 1
SIM 2
Wi-Fiyes
Wi-Fi FeaturesMobile Hotspot
Bluetoothyes
GPSyes
NFCyes
USB ConnectivityMass storage device, USB charging
USB Type-Cyes
Multimedia
FM Radioyes
Loudspeakeryes
Audio Jack3.5 mm
Special Features
Fingerprint Sensor
Other SensorsLight sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Compass
Read Full Specifications

Expert Review

Conclusion:

Available at Rs. 28,000, the Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra looks certainly overpriced when compared with the competition. However, this phone is geared towards a certain audience who love consuming multimedia and want good cameras. Those who go around comparing specs won’t find it interesting enough due to several reasons or say downsides, including the lack of fingerprint sensor, 4K video recording and a large form-factor that it carries. Though we admire its premium build plus the well-optimised hardware and software that helps in delivering a great battery life. That said, the XA1 Ultra should be a desirable choice for Sony fans but those seeking high-end specs and perhaps an overall better package can rather consider the OnePlus 3T or Honor 8 Pro, currently available at a similar or lower price.

Introduction:

Sony, the Japanese company has been struggling with its Xperia smartphone lineup outside of Japan but that’s not limiting them from launching new devices. Earlier this year, Sony announced the Xperia XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra at MWC, successor to the Xperia XA series. In mid-2017, both these smartphones with mid-range specifications made their way to India but at a premium price tag. Today, we will be reviewing the Xperia XA1 Ultra having a 6-inch display and 16-megapixel front camera with OIS as its highlight. Priced at Rs. 28,000, is the Xperia XA1 is worth your consideration? Let’s find out in our review

Design & Display:

It’s simply disappointing to see the lack of innovation from Sony in terms of design. Like most of the older Xperia phones, the XA1 Ultra too sports a similar design language which looks dated and boring. Featuring aluminium sides and a glass back, the phone packs a premium build but fails to offer good ergonomics. The 6-inch display combined with huge bezels at the top and bottom make it a large handset which is almost unusable with one hand. However, we liked the fact that it features an edge-to-edge display with almost no bezels along the vertical sides.

The XA1 Ultra with a boxy design has squared corners that causes pain in the palm and makes it uneasy to use. Though the slightly curved sides across the front and back make it comfortable to hold, especially with two hands. Speaking of physical overview, the top front houses the selfie camera followed by Sony branding and selfie flash. There are no capacitive buttons and two grills are seen at the top and bottom, out of which top one is the earpiece while other is just a design gimmick. The right side holds the volume rocker, power button and a dedicated camera key. The plastic flap on left side holds Dual nano-SIM slot and a dedicated slot for storage expansion. The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top whereas the Type-C charging port along with loudspeaker sits at the bottom.

Unfortunately, there is no fingerprint sensor onboard which is a bummer at this price. Measuring 8.1mm thick and weighing 188 grams, the XA1 Ultra looks a chunky phone with an uninspiring design. Comes in Gold, White, and Black colour.

One of XA1 Ultra highlight is the 6-inch display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection that appears bezel-less until it’s turned on. Unlike its younger sibling XA1 that sports a 720p panel, the display here is a Full HD IPS one with a pixel density of 367ppi which isn’t great on paper but looks promising. The display is bright enough, vivid, and offers an accurate colour reproduction. The viewing angles are good and sunlight legibility is not an issue. The phone has on-screen keys for navigation and allows users to manually adjust the colour temperature as desired. Thanks to the bigger edge-to-edge screen, the XA1 Ultra is a rejoice for users who love watching TV shows, videos and play games for long intervals.

Performance:

The Xperia XA1 Ultra is powered by an Octa-core MediaTek Helio P20 chipset clocked up to 2.3GHz and this is the same SoC that powers the XA1. This is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which can be expanded up to 256GB via a dedicated microSD card. In terms of connectivity, the device supports Dual SIM with 4G and VoLTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, and WiFi Miracast. In synthetic benchmark tests, the phone scored around 64000 points in Antutu and 3700 points in Geekbench 4 multi-core test.

The mid-range MediaTek processor might look weak on paper but Sony has optimised the hardware well that makes for a good overall performance. The device performs well in day-to-day usage while carrying out routine tasks and memory management is good with 2GB of free RAM on an average. Sometimes launching and switching between apps takes slightly longer when the phone is running high on resources which is normal. However, when pushed beyond its limits, the phone tends to slow down and shows signs of lags.

Gaming performance is equally good as the phone is capable of running both casual and high graphics titles like Asphalt 8 without any frame drops or stutters. We didn’t notice any signs of overheating during our usage too. The only deal breaker is the lack of fingerprint sensor.

Cameras:

The camera package on the XA1 Ultra comprises a 23MP rear camera with contrast + phase detection hybrid autofocus, f/2.0 aperture and single LED flash. A dedicated camera button is also present using which you can launch the camera, manually focus, and take photos. The camera app has several shooting modes, including Superior Auto mode, HDR, Timeshift burst, Sound Photo, and a manual mode that lets you manually adjust the ISO, shutter speed, exposure and white balance.

In our usage, we found the camera keep on focusing and won’t take the photo until focusing is done. This is annoying as one can miss few shots due to such delay, especially the close-up ones. Another issue we noticed is few seconds delay between taking a photo and previewing it. Speaking of image quality, the primary camera is good but not impressive, particularly in low-light. In well-lit conditions, the photos look sharp with adequate details and decent colour reproduction but at times they look oversaturated and a bit washed out. Those taken in low-light look grainy and slightly miss out on the details. Sadly, there is no 4K video recording support.

Coming to the highlight, the 16MP front camera surpasses the rear shooter as it features Optical Image Stabilization which the latter misses out. The inclusion of OIS helps in capturing smooth and shake-free videos. We found the selfies to be really good with good colours and details. In low-light, the front flash aids in taking clear and quality selfies without any harsh lighting.

Battery:

While a 2700mAh non-removable battery combined with a big 6-inch display may look weak on paper but the results are surprisingly good. In our test, the phone consistently managed to last for more than a day under moderate to heavy usage pattern. What’s interesting is the excellent standby time that helps in preventing the battery drain when the device is left idle for several hours. Sony includes power-saving modes like Stamina Mode and Ultra Stamina mode to extend the battery life further.

The XA1 Ultra supports quick charging via MediaTek Pump Express Plus 2.0 and also features Qnovo Adaptive charging that reduces the charging speed when the battery is close to 100 percent charge. In short, the battery life left us impressed.

Audio & Video:

Though one might mistake the grilles at the front top and bottom of the device for front-facing speakers, that isn’t the case. The bottom firing speaker on the XA1 Ultra is quite loud, crisp, and clear but there is slight audio distortion. A pair of headphones comes bundled inside the box. The big Full HD display offers an impressive experience and should be a delight for multimedia enthusiasts.

Software & Ui:

The XA1 Ultra runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with Sony’s Xperia UI on top. The overall UI retains the look of stock Android with few customisations added on top by Sony. Unlike Chinese UIs, it has an app drawer and you can group multiple apps in one folder. Google now is accessible by swiping right from the homescreen while swiping down from top opens up the search menu. There are few pre-installed apps, including PlayStation, SonyLIV, and AVG Protection but only a few can be uninstalled.

Other UI features include a single-handed mode that shrinks the screen to a smaller size on either side of the display. Support for themes is also there where one can choose from few preloaded themes or buy new ones. Xperia Actions is an interesting addition that suggests customisable settings and personalised recommendations as per your usage pattern. For instance, it can learn and automatically adjust the screen brightness and call volume during your bedtime routine. Moreover, a Smart Cleaner option in Storage & memory automatically deactivates the apps that you don’t use and clears the cache for better optimisation.

Overall the UI is smooth and responsive but the age-old icons badly need a redesign.

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