Review: Sony Xperia XA2

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The smartphone business is still making lots of money, especially in the flagship sector, but the mid-range market is rather special for most. Getting a decent spec phone with a wide range of features and a good camera that doesn’t cost an arm and leg is definitely one of the bigger attractions in today’s market. Espically with a lot of top end devices getting closer and closer to the €1,000 mark, and with some going over it.

Sony have done well to offer a great range of devices across the different levels of market. What’s interesting is their quick to bring high end features and designs to their lower priced devices faster than other manufacturers.

Today we’re taking a look at the Xperia XA2. A follow up to last years popular XA1. The phone features a metal frame, with slight curve for a comfortable grip. It’s one of Son’y more sleeker designs from last years XZ1, and we’re even getting a 23MP camera, and 1080p IPS display, no a bad start.

Let’s take a look at the full specs before taking a closer look at the phone.

  • Software: Android 8.0 Oreo.
  • Display: 5.2″ 1,920×1,080 IPS LCD, 424ppi pixel density
  • Design: Aluminum frame, polycarbonate back.
    Chipset:
    Snapdragon 630: octa-core 2.2GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, Adreno 508 GPU.
  • Memory: 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, hybrid microSD slot for expansion.
  • Rear Camera: 23MP, 1/2.3″ sensor size, f/2.0 aperture, 25mm-equiv. focal length. Hybrid (PD/contrast) autofocus. 2160p/30fps video recording.
  • Front Camera: 8MP, 120-degree field of view, fixed focus. 1080p/30fps video recording.
  • Networking: Single/Dual SIM, USB-C, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth 5,  FM radio
  • Modem: LTE Cat. 12/13 (600Mbps download)
  • Other: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; single speaker on the bottom; 3.5mm jack; two-stage hardware camera shutter release key, QuickCharge 3.0 fast charging.
  • Dimensions/Weight:  159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173g
  • Battery: 3,300 mAh

Great camera, solid display, Bluetooth 5, USB Type-C, fingerprint sensor, 3.5mm hack, and 3,300mAh battery. We’re pretty much looking at high-end specs from not so long ago. The chipset is the only thing lacking being a snapdragon 630. Let’s not dig to deep into specs, we have all the testing and benchmarks to follow.

Now it’s time to check out the device itself.

The Sony Xperia XA2

The Xperia XA2 definitely looks very familiar. We can clearly see they flagship from last year bleed into this one. That lovely curve and chamfered edges certainly work well for a mid-range device.

The design for the XA2 definitely takes off where the XA1 leaves off, but clearly takes some notes from the Xpera XZ1. We now get a more solid feeling device with a slight curve that really goes a long way for making it more comfortable to hold than last years device.

We also get a great edge to edge display that really looks amazing in person and goes well for the mid-range device. We’re also glad to see the 3.5mm headphone back included in the device, as for anyone looking to pick up a cheaper device, doesn’t want to have to buy wireless earphones as well.

UI

Sony haven’t made any real changes to their UI, but that’s actually a good thing, mostly because Sony have always kept a pretty stock Android experience.

 

 

Navigation is straightforward and UI performance is very smooth with little to zero hiccups. Exactly what we like to see with any device. Split screen is works very well with the large 1080p display, more so that most mid-range devices.

Camera UI

Sony haven’t changed their Camera UI in the last few years, but performance has gotten a little better.

 

 

Sadly unlike their flagship devices, 4K is still a separate mode rather than apart of the video resolution modes.

The camera UI is easy to get use to, but does have it’s cumbersome moments. Mostly because it works better on their flagship devices that offer the performance to handle it. The 4K video is definitely a lot of work for the Snapdragon 630 chipset, but that is expected, and it does still work okay.

Photos and Video

Since the app doesn’t have the ability to force HDR on or off when using the auto settings, we included manual HDR on and off images below. Most users will probably keep using Auto mode anyway, so most of are shots are using that. It is important to note that the Xperia XA2 does a great job using HDR when best to do so.

Auto Mode

 

 

 

Manual Mode (HDR Off)

 

 

Manual Mode (HDR On)

 

Since the device includes a 23MP sensor from Sony, we were expecting good photos, and that’s exactly what we got. Our shots were taken on a very overcast and murky day, but overall the detail, color and balance are all top notch and another tick in the right direction for the mid-range XA2.

Full size images

The above images are resized for viewing on the website. If you wish to check out the full size images, you can do so with the link below.

Sony Xperia XA2 Full Size Photos

Videos

1080p

1080P@60fps

4K

Benchmarks

We always like to see good benchmark number regardless of where the device is aimed at in the market. While Sony have always gone for decent chipset in their device, the XA2 does include a 1080p display, and 4K video recording. The chipset this time does have a lot to handle. Let’s check out what the Xperia XA2 has to offer.

3D Mark Ice Storm Extreme MAX
3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited 16827
3D Mark Sling Shot 1326
3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme 827
3D Mark API Overhead OpenGL Es 3.0 21772
3D Mark API Overhead Vulkan 243258
Antutu 175622
Geekbench Single-Core 860
Geekbench Multi-Core 4184
Geekbench Compute 3658
PC Mark Work 2.0 5088
PC Mark Computer Vision 2377
PC Mark Storage 3879
PC Mark Work 5908

The performance numbers aren’t the highest we have seen, and certainly don’t offer anything over the competition within this range. That shouldn’t be a huge draw back for the device, since it still has the numbers to handle decent level of usage. We don’t expect many will get lag or slow downs, assuming they aren’t running to many apps at once.

Battery Life

Battery life is also one of the most important features of any device. Our 12 hour test is aimed at medium to heavy usage and determine performance by how much is left on the device.

Phone Calls20-30 Minutes
Text message/Chat/EmailsThroughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent
Photos10-20
Video recording20-30 Minutes
Internet browsingThroughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)
Gaming30 Minutes
YouTube/Netflix30-40 Minutes
ConnectivityWiFi and 4G; mostly 4G
Screen Brightness50-percent

At the end of our 12 hour period the device was left with 38 percent battery. We keep a broad range of different task, to make sure most functions are touched on throughout the day. Video recording uses most power, since we’re dealing with the camera, display, CPU/GPU. 38-percent at the end of a 12 hour window is very respectable.

Whatsmore, we have also been pleased with Sony’s battery saving functions, which we wanted to note as providing a decent extension by shutting down tasks automatically when your battery approaches 10-15%. All smartphones do this now, but Sony’s has always been pretty steller.

Conclusion

It’s now wrap up time. Below are our thoughts on the Sony Xperia XA2 and where it lies within the very saturated market of smartphones. As usual we break down our conclusion into different categories. Design, Display, Camera, Performance and then finally overall. This should give anyone looking to pick up the smartphone what what we believe it has to off what it has to offer.

Design

Sony have always taken their time to update their designs, bu thankfully they quick enough to include their newest designs in their lower tired devices. The Xperia XA2 definitely gives a premium feel with its metal and glass unibody. The slight curve in the back improves the grip over the XA1. Sony also removed more of the bezel from the sides, and we get a more edge-to-edge display than before.

Overall the design doesn’t leave much behind. It’s sleek, great material use with metal france and plastic back. It feels solid and comfortable in your hand. The fingerprint placement might take some getting use too, mostly because its below the camera and the lens tends to be hit more than the sensor causing a smudge.

Display

The included 5.2-inch IPS display with 1080p resolution. The resolution is definitely more premium than other mid-range devices for similar pricing. It’s nothing spectacular, but absolutely offers a little more than what you would expected from this range of device. It’s also a decent size display, and the 75-percent screen to body ratio is pretty high since we still have a 16:9 ratio.

Camera

Sony have thankfully included one of the their best 23MP sensors on the back of the device. This has provided some solid photos, with great HDR photos. The 4K video support is a nice, but we still recommend 1080p with HDR for solid quality and performance; that can be viewed natively on the device.

The front facing camera is solid enough for those important selfies, but doesn’t offer much over the usual stuff we see at this price point.

Performance

The XA2 performance is about what we expected from the Snapdragon 630 chipset. Basically your getting mid-range performance compared to current flagships, but that is 100-percent enough to provide us with a smooth experience. Some folks might find some slowness if their doing more than a typical mid-range device can handle, but typically users shouldn’t experience any lag.

Battery life definitely deserves a mention here, and that is down to the large 3,300mAh battery, and ironically the use of a more lower performing chipset. Since it uses less power to begin with, it makes for a longer lasting device. Probably something more important for those looking at a mid-range device in the first place.

Overall

The Xperia XA2 is a fine offering from Sony that brings a sleek and premium design to the mid-range market. It has a great display, amazing camera, and solid performance throughout. It definitely brings more to the mid-range market and should satisfy anyone not looking to spend more than €250-300, but still have decent spec’d phone with a high-end camera and well above average display. If your looking for performance in those particular areas in a mid-range device, then the XA2 should definitely be on the top of your list.

We gladly award the Sony Xperia XA2 with Gold, and hope we can see more solid mid-range devices for a healthy price point in the future.

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