Sony Xperia XA Ultra: User review
by Jaime Solís
A couple of days ago, I decided that I’ll buy a new smartphone because mine, after two years, began to turn slow. So, my mom told me that her Sony Xperia XA Ultra is working just fine and that I should buy something similar. We change our cell phones for a couple of days and it was enough to give an opinion about it. This cell phone came out last year (she bought six months ago), and its main feature is its 16 MP front-facing camera. Also, the 6-inch screen and its design are the other two signatures of the device. But, is this phablet a good performance model? Here´s my review:
BATTERY LIFE & CHARGING
Even though the small capacity of the Xperia XA: 2.700mAh, it offers a regular performance and the battery could last about 8 hours with video use, more or less with a Wi-Fi connection. With mobile data, the battery ran out in about 5 hours. So, for me, it would have been nice a longer battery life, because I hate to look for a plug in every place I go. The charging time is pretty fast, though; in less than an hour, this cell phone charges up to 80%. But as I said, the poor performance in battery life is the most annoying thing in cell phones for me.
PERFORMANCE & DESIGN
I think XA Ultra delivers a regular performance. Some games look fine at 720p, but at 1080p the effects looked worse. What I found annoying is the delay at open apps in multitasking. It can be speeded with developer options, but a device like this shouldn’t do this. Maybe, to optimize the performance, a microSD should be used, because the intern storage is only 16 GB. Even though it has a nice design that catches your attention, the Xperia XA Ultra is not a very discrete device, with a 6” screen, holding the device isn´t so comfortable as other cell phones. So, if you don’t want a phablet, I´m sure you won’t like this one.
STRENGTH & DURABILITY
The XA Ultras it’s not that strong. The screen is an IPS LCD, so it is kind of resistant to bumps and scratches, but please, don’t throw it in the air just to test its durability because is more than probable that this cell phone won’t survive! It is not waterproof nor dustproof so I strongly recommend to use a protective case of some sort to prevent any accidents. The build quality is decent and seems durable enough to last for a couple of years. However, despite been light weight, it feels a little bit strong and durable, just be careful.
The most important characteristic in the Xperia XA Ultra is its 16 MP front camera with image stabilization and LED flash. It is, by far, much more powerful than the main camera of a high-end device. The quality of the images is indisputable. In fact, it is somewhat frightening the definition of the factions and imperfections. It is, without fear of exaggerating, one of the best front cameras in a mid-range equipment in the market today. It is funny that the optic stabilizer works with the front camera but no with the main camera. So, the front camera works better in photo & video because it´s optimized for poor light conditions. If you love to take you selfies, then this is a perfect device for you.
The big 6-inch Xperia XA Ultra’s screen has a decent pixel density: 367 ppi. With Full HD, the screen delivers a good experience under sunlight at 100% brightness. For multimedia, Ultra screen is superior to average. The vision angles are very good. Never the less, the experience with white balance is unsatisfactory. Almost all pictures that were taken by the camera look kind of bad on the phone, but after I looked at them on my computer, they look really nice.
Maybe is too drastic to say that this is one of the worst features, but certainly, it is a huge letdown. Despite having a resolution of 21 MP, this does not offer a superior quality experience to other mid-range equipment. It even lacks the image stabilizer that counts the front camera, so it is common to get fuzzy results with a non-expert hand.
On the upper side of the cell phone there is the earphones mini jack and at the inferior, there is the speaker. Sincerely, there is no worse place to put on a speaker because it compromises the sound when playing video games.
The internal memory is 16 GB, but they end quickly since about half of this is taken by the constant updates that Sony requires for its ecosystem of applications. The XA Ultra comes with only a few pre-installed apps. Some apps like Spotify, Facebook and AVG Protection are loaded onto the device and cannot be removed. You will find use in the first two, but the need for anti-virus software on a phone is debatable. The 2700mAh battery feels too small for such a large device, and it ends up relatively fast when used for a long time.
Definitively, the Xperia XA Ultra is better than the original series. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that the device does not have a fingerprint reader, a recent basic found in several smartphones in the same price range and that the protection against water is not existent. Yes, the Xperia XA Ultra has a pretty design but it is a phablet, and not everybody will want a 6-inch device to use every day. Even though, it has a great front camera, its main camera kind of sucks. Also, the color representation and the white balance prejudice the user experience despite the good contrast and the excellent vision angles of the screen. This smartphone is designed for anyone who wants to use all the potential a front camera can offer, but if you want a big screen for video games, the graphics quality of Ultra isn’t that good. For me, the front camera doesn´t justify the purchase of this smartphone because I’m not that kind of selfie person, but maybe you are. This phone is spectacular to take selfies and that’s pretty much all… In everything else, it is an average cell phone of its range, which lacks a fingerprint reader. If you only want a cell phone for social media and messaging, then this is a good option.
OVERALL RATING 7/10