Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra, First Impressions: The Mid-Range Gets Serious in Photography

We have already tested the new Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra, the renewal of the middle range of the Japanese brand that has been officially presented in MWC 2017. The main arguments of these new devices are the rear camera, heiress of the Z5 Xperia, and care in the design.

Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra, technical

As already happened in the XA Xperia range, we have two models: the “normal” and the Ultra, with largest display and vitamin specifications. Both share the same processor, MediaTek helium P20, which is an improvement with respect to the previous edition, which rode a P10 Helio, but with different RAM.

Also share the rear camera, which is the same as the Xperia Z5 with some additives (Sony did us emphasize that is the first time that include one of their high end camera in the middle range), and, of course, design and layout of buttons.

Logically, to have different screen sizes, dimensions, weight, and battery change, but also its resolutions. In a matter of storage the two models will have 32 GB.

With respect to the materials it dominates in both polycarbonate and, to reinforce that feeling “premium” in the design, used aluminum on the sides. Neither of them is water resistant.

Plus: both will come with Android 7.1.

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra, technical


Physical dimensions: 165x79x8.1 mm (210 grams)
Finish and resistance: (Lateral) aluminium and polycarbonate | Without water resistance
Screen: 6 inch IPS
Resolution: Full HD
Processor: MediaTek helium P20
Storage: 32 GB with up to 256GB expandable MicroSD slot
Operating system: Android 7.1
Connectivity: USB type C, WiFi, 4.2 Bluetooth, NFC
Cameras: Rear 23MP (2.3 “) with optical stabilizer, front 16MP (2.6”) with flash and optical stabilization.
Battery: 2700 mAh

Sony Xperia XA1, technical


Physical dimensions: 145x67x7.9 mm (145 grams)
Finish and resistance: (Lateral) aluminium and polycarbonate | Without water resistance
Screen: 5 inch IPS
Resolution: HD 720 p
Processor: MediaTek helium P20
Storage: 32 GB, with up to 256GB expandable MicroSD slot
Operating system: Android 7.1
Connectivity: USB type C, WiFi, 4.2 Bluetooth, NFC
Cameras: 23MP (2.3 “) with optical stabilizer, front 8MP rear.
Battery: 2,300 mAh

Feeling in hand

The Xperia XA1 Ultra is very large. With 6-inch diagonal, it would be absurd to deny it, although it must be said that the grip is good thanks to that design in block and straight lines. The XA1 stands at 5 inches, much more manageable and comfortable. An image to reflect the difference in size:

I was amazed at the sensation of weight transmitting the XA1 Ultra, which seems lighter than it actually is (somewhat more than 200 grams). The material (polycarbonate) and the design do have a weight balanced all over the device and that it does not feel like a “brick”.

However, if I must choose, I stay with the comfort and manoeuvrability of the XA1. These 5 inch placed him in one position more than interesting for those who do not want to screens large, but not too small. Paste it? Its resolution HD, although enough, could have made a difference with competition in the mid-range. In addition, was us try it outdoors in broad daylight the day, also critical in this type of device.

The button layout is the usual Xperia range, with power on, raise and lower volume and the one dedicated to the camera on the right side. Above is the mini jack connector and at the bottom the USB type C connector, compatible with fast charging MediaTek. NFC sensor is located on the back side, below the rear camera and just above the Xperia logo.

Eye the cameras

The main camera of these XA1 and XA1 Ultra is his great asset. Is the same as that of the Z5 (23 megapixels), which returns either, that speech, photos to 8 Megapixels, up to five increases in digital zoom without distortion, quick capture, dedicated button to go from standby to camera in 0.6 seconds, hybrid autofocus and an ISO of 6400, for low-light situations (hue: that ISO will be reached in the superior Auto mode, manual mode not can pass ISO 1400). Without a doubt, very attractive for a mid-range like this.

The front of the Ultra XA1 It is the same as the of the XA Ultra, i.e., 16-Megapixel, optical stabilizer and flash front. It includes improvements as gestures to take selfies (put your hand open in front of the camera, detects it and starts counting down to take the picture). The front of the XA1 is more discreet, with 8 megapixel camera.

Good cameras for the middle range, although we will have to see in depth what such processing and software

What more will try when it comes time to review thoroughly will be what such software and processing of those photos. We have said it more than once: Sony has its own technologies and is the manufacturer that provides sensors to the Chambers of his competition, but it has always failed in processing their own phones. With photos we did during this contact we dare not reach any definitive assessment, especially because they are not final production units or shoot in a number of situations, so we prefer to keep the benefit of the doubt when comes the analysis. In any case, priori these XA1 and XA1 Ultra enter squarely in the fight of the mid-range with better main camera smartphone.

Smart actions, also included

Apart from the increase of RAM over its predecessors (the Ultra has 4 GB and the XA1, 3 GB) and that helium P20 (which theoretically improve performance and battery consumption), Sony has included the “smart actions” XZ Premium in these two models. What are? They are basically ways in which enters the phone in different situations. They are not yet final, but they explained three: Focus, for when we are working, night, for when we go to sleep, morning or trip abroad (here still have not decided which of the two will come in the final version).

The phone will learn it during the first week of use and analyze your patterns: when you turn on or turn off, when charging, when using Facebook or WhatsApp, when you get to work or when sales of House. Factors such as the time or geolocation will be those who are used to keep the phone in a profile or another. Anyway, You can enable or disable and also manually configure if we want to.

These profiles are reminiscent of launchers as Aviate, first showing a certain number of applications when we were at home, at work or in night mode. These “smart actions” pursue the same path, learn from the user and adapt to every moment of the day.

In summary

The XA1 and XA1 Ultra have left us with a good taste in your mouth. The first touchdown was positive, but leaves us with typical doubts when we try them better and longer. On paper they have very interesting features for the mid-range segment, but, of course, remains to be seen what prices have, which is the next item.

Price and availability

The new Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra will be available in spring of 2017, Although we still ignore the prices. The tracks that we have, and which are neither official nor confirmed, are running that he could be among more than 200 and less than 500 euros.

Both models will be available in four colors: black, white, gold and pink, although the latter, as we are told, possibly not reach Europe.