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The Sony Xperia XA1 is one of the best budget mid-range smartphones of 2017. I recently purchased one for myself and decided to write a review.




Pros

  • Great camera
  • Affordable budget phone
  • Slim and minimal design
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Camera software needs major improvements
  • Sound can seem choppy in some cases when volume is high
  • Pre-loaded with unnecessary apps

Sony Xperia XA1 Camera and Screen

Camera

With its 23MP camera this Sony smartphone takes incredible photos for the most part. The colors are vibrant, it has extremely fast auto focus, and there’s no disputing that the level of detail is brilliant. The only time I noticed any blurriness was when it came to taking pictures of the sky with clouds which is kind of hit or miss.

However, I did find the camera controls to be a little glitchy, and somewhat frustrating. The camera app itself also seems to take longer to load than what I am used to. Although Sony is well known for their cameras and camera sensors, I feel that they dropped the ball a bit in regards to the software end of things this time around.

Here’s a few photos I took with the Xperia XA1 today at the London Kids Expo at Victoria Park in London, Ontario. It was a bit cloudy and we arrived just before it started raining, but even with little sun you can see the camera quality is still great.

Xperia XA1 camera test 01 at London Kids Expo 2017

Xperia XA1 camera test 02 at London Kids Expo 2017

Xperia XA1 camera test 03 at London Kids Expo 2017

Xperia XA1 camera test 04 at London Kids Expo 2017

Here’s another random photo I took to test the Xperia XA1 camera quality while indoors.

Sony Xperia XA1 camera quality test indoors

Screen

The Sony Xperia XA1 has a 5-inch screen with 1280×720 resolution. Many people might frown upon such a low resolution screen, especially considering that there are numerous options available when it comes to phones with higher resolution screens, but in all honesty this resolution works just fine for practical every day use. I find the display works great in any type of light, whether bright sunlight or dim lights at night. Like many other Android phones, it also has the option to turn adaptive brightness on or off to help with consistency for screen brightness levels in various different environments and levels of light.

Battery Life and Overall Performance

Battery

Sony Xperia XA1 review battery smart backlight controlI’ve had this phone for about a week now and have to say I’m very impressed with how long the battery lasts. On a full charge you can easily get an entire day’s use. That includes browsing the web, streaming videos on Netflix and/or YouTube, and in my case even spending a couple of hours playing Disney Magical Dice with my fiance, which of course she usually wins at.

I also love the fact that the phone comes with a fast charger and overall I find it charges very quickly.

There are also some cool battery saving features such as the Xperia’s built in Stamina Mode option to help cut back on background tasks for example. There’s also a Smart Backlight Control option that is able to detect whether or not you are holding your device so that the screen turns off quicker when not in use like if you set your phone down on a table or something and forget about it.

The Xperia XA1 has a 2300mAH battery which may not seem like much compared to some other smartphones but being that the screen is only 5 inches and has a lower resolution it is more than suffice when it comes to battery life.

Performance

This phone operates a lot faster than you might expect considering it only has 3GB of RAM. I actually find it able to load and run Android games (as well as other apps) quicker and more smoothly than what I was used to on my LG G4.

I’ve also found that the phone itself runs at a very good temperature and tends not to overheat like some other phones on the market. It has a power-efficient MediaTek helio P20 octa-core processor which also helps a lot in this area.

Sony Xperia XA1 Features, Software and Design

Sony Xperia XA1

Features

I like the fact that the phone uses USB Type-C which makes for super fast charging. The only downfall to this is not many peripherals are available in this USB type yet. However, USB Type-C is beginning to catch on more and is expected to eventually replace USB Type-A and Type-B all together so in this regards Sony is a bit ahead of the game.

Another cool feature is that the Sony Xperia XA1 learns and adapts to your habits which apparently results in a more personalized experience. Being that I’ve only had the phone for a week however I have yet to see this feature in full force, but it did open Fishdom for me once already so I guess it’s caught onto that habit, or ahem, addiction.

The Sony Xperia XA1 also has one of the brightest flashlights, or “Torch” as it’s called, that I’ve ever seen on any handheld device.

Software

The Xperia XA1 comes with Android 7.0 Nougat. The phone does however come with several pre-installed apps which I found no use for such as an Amazon shopping app, and PlayStation app for example. Luckily I was able to uninstall or at least disable these apps though.

Design

Being that I’m a minimalist, I rather like the clean and simple design of the Xperia XA1. My previous phone was an LG G4, so it’s a bit smaller than what I’m used to but it has great grip, fits nicely when you’re holding it, and I like it’s practically borderless design, at least horizontally.

Sony Xperia XA1 review design angle 01

Sony Xperia XA1 review design angle 02

Sony Xperia XA1 review design angle 03

Sony Xperia XA1 Specs

  • Rear Camera: 23MP Exmor RS™ camera
  • Front Camera: 8MP Exmor R front camera
  • CPU: MediaTek helio P20 octa-core processor
  • SIM Capability: Single SIM, Nano SIM
  • Memory and Storage: 3GB RAM, 32GB eMMC internal memory
  • Weight: 143g
  • Dimensions: 145 x 67 x 8 mm
  • Display: 5″ HD 720p, Image Enhance Technology, curved glass
  • USB: USB Type-C

Conclusion

Overall the Sony Xperia XA1 is a very descent phone especially for the price. Nowadays people tend to like phones with a bit bigger screens and additional features but of course you’ll also end up paying more. So, the importance of a bigger screen and more high end specs is just something you’ll have to weigh out when shopping around for a new device.

An issue I ran into is finding a screen protector since the Xperia XA1 is not as common or popular as other Android phones or the Xperia XZ Premium for example. Sure, you can easily order one online and some retailers do sell them but such retailers are far and few between. Most retailers and mobile phone accessory stores I went to hadn’t even heard of the Xperia XA1. Luckily however there are some places that can custom cut smudge and scratch proof screen protectors for you which is what I ended up doing in this case.

I really like this device and it’s a great mid range budget phone that runs exceptionally fast and can carry out all of the day to day tasks that I need it for with ease. Sure it could use a few improvements in some areas, but what line of devices aren’t a work in progress? Regardless, it’s a really descent phone that I’d definitely recommend.

Detailed Score
  • 90%
    Camera - 90%
  • 80%
    Performance - 80%
  • 90%
    Design - 90%
  • 90%
    Value - 90%
  • 90%
    Battery Life - 90%
  • 70%
    Software - 70%
85%

Summary

Overall Score

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User Review
4 (1 vote)

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