The Sony Xperia XA1 falls in a niche spot in the midrange smartphone market. The device is more than capable of holding its own against its competitors and surprisingly packs a high end camera that takes incredible shots. Is the Xperia XA1 a worthy revision of last year’s Xperia XA? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”.
Lets get the tech specs (via GSMArena) out the way before digging into the reasons why the XA1 is a good choice for a mid-range phone.
Sony Xperia XA1 Specifications:
- Body: Aluminum frame, polycarbonate back, scratch-resistant glass (>9H pencil hardness).
- Display: 5.0″ TFT LCD, 1,280x720px resolution, 294ppi.
- Rear camera: 23MP Type 1/2.3″ sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 24mm-equiv. focal length; autofocus; single LED flash; 1080p/30fps video recording, SteadyShot EIS.
- Front camera: 8MP Type 1/4″ sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 23mm-equiv. focal length; autofocus; 1080p/30fps video recording.
- OS/Software: Android 7.0 Nougat.
- Chipset: 16nm Mediatek Helio P20: Octa-core CPU (4×2.4GHz Cortex-A53 + 4×1.6GHz Cortex-A53), Mali T-880MP2 GPU.
- Memory: 3GB of RAM; 32GB of storage; microSD slot up to 256GB.
- Battery: 2,300mAh Li-Ion (sealed); Mediatek Pump Express Plus 2.0 fast charging.
- Connectivity: Single-SIM (model names G3121/3123/3125) and Dual-SIM (G3112/G3116) versions; Cat. 6 LTE (300Mbps/50Mbps); USB Type-C (v2.0); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; GPS, GLONASS; NFC; Bluetooth 4.2.
- Misc: single bottom-firing loudspeaker, 3.5mm jack, dedicated two-stage hardware shutter release button.
Opting for a new Mediatek Helio P20 processor, Mali T-880MP2 GPU and an increased amount of RAM (3GB), the XA1 immediately surpasses its predecessor in terms of raw power. Sadly though, power, in the true sense of the word is still an issue since the phone only has a paltry 2300mAh Li-Ion battery.
Aesthetically, the XA1 looks almost identical to last year’s model. There’s been a slight reduction in the bezel size in an attempt to make it seem borderless but this does not extend to the top and bottom of the phone. The left and right sides are surrounded with aluminium and thankfully this does wonders for the phone’s grip. The XA1 feels both expensive yet strong enough to withstand some abuse. This does not mean you can drop it and not panic though – One should always be careful with their electronic devices.
The screen on the XA1 is a standard 720p and not 1080p like it’s higher end counterparts. Colours however are vivid and so is the contrast with the screen being bright enough for use in light environments.
The XA1 is mid-range so all the fancy extras present in the XZ such as a fingerprint scanner are not available here. Given the extreme difference in price to the higher end model, the XA1 is rock solid in terms of value for money. Coming in at around half the price of the XZ, the XA1 positions itself in a “sweet spot” which delivers great performance with a stellar camera to boot.
The images the 23MP take are far more crisp than photos taken on previous Xperia models such as the Z5 compact. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the best feature about the XA1 is the camera. If you want a mid-range phone with a top tier quality camera, the XA1 will be hard to beat.
The phone has a standard 32GB onboard storage and a microSD card slot for added storage located in the same tray that houses the nanoSIM card.
When it comes to running apps, the XA1 is not going to be able to provide the raw processing power needed for Android’s latest 3D games. Daily apps such as YouTube and Gmail however are a pleasure to run and during our testing, no noticeable slowdown was detected with multiple small apps running. This of course will change over time as apps update and CPU and RAM usage demands become higher.
Overall, the Sony Xperia XA1 falls into a niche spot in the market where it competes with the Samsung Galaxy A3 and Huawei P9 Lite. Given the choices available to consumers, should they pick the Sony Xperia XA1, one would be pleased with their decision given it’s big brand name support and premium look and feel.