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Sony Xperia X first impressions: going back to the basics

|February 23, 2016 |Android Phones, Sony, 4G, 4G LTE, First impressions, MWC 2016

“The mid-rung member of the new Xperia X family is a well-made smartphone with powerful cameras”

Even before MWC 201 kicked off, we saw quite a few leaks and rumours surrounding the new smartphones expected at the annual phone fest, but news about what Japanese brand Sony would be launching was sketchy. While there were some murmurs regarding the impending launch of a new flagship dubbed the Xperia Z6, the details weren’t really convincing. As it turns out, Sony launched a new family of smartphones clubbed under the Xperia X umbrella. The Xperia XA, Xperia X and the Xperia X Performance form the trio which are part of this new range, a portfolio which boasts special camera features and other goodies like adaptive charging.

While the Xperia XA (first impressions) sits at the bottom of the pyramid, the Xperia X lies in the middle, while the Xperia X Performance, as its name suggests, attempts to take things to a higher level with its powerful specs.

We’ll be talking about the mid-rung Xperia X here, but we would like to point out that the Xperia X and the X Performance share quite a few attributes. The key differences are that the latter boasts the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 processor and is the only water-resistant device in the X range. Additionally, it also offers Cat 9 LTE connectivity. In comparison, the Xperia X, which we’re covering here, is powered by a hexa-core Snapgragon 650 processor, and offers Cat 6 LTE connectivity. Most of the other core specs are the same.

With the Xperia X, Sony hasn’t broken the mould in terms of design and has stuck to the same OmniBalance design ethos we’ve seen earlier. That said, the Xperia X does manage to stand out with its curved glass display, compact design and the interesting colour options it’d be available in. The options include white, black, rose gold and lime gold. 

 

Nestling beautifully in the hand, the Xperia X looks well-designed and feels premium. The navigation keys are present as part of the software, so you just get the earpiece, front camera and sensors on top of the screen, and the speaker below. Talking about the screen, it’s a 5-inch, 1080p panel, and comes loaded with Sony’s proprietary tech including TRILUMINOS Display for mobile and X-Reality as usual. 

  

At the top, you’ll see the audio socket, while the micro-USB port is located below. The left spine sports an ejectable tray that gobbles up a SIM and a microSD card. Sony will be making this phone available in a dual-SIM configuration as well.

The right spine features the power key in the middle, and just like the Xperia Z5 family, integrates a fingerprint scanner. Like we mentioned in our Xperia Z5 review, this implementation is quite intuitive, and allows you to use your left index finger or right thumb to unlock the phone quickly and intuitively, though of course, there’s nothing stopping you from registering other fingers as well. A volume rocker and a dedicated shutter key for the camera are also placed on the right.

The posterior of the phone is minimalistic, and just has the camera, flash and Xperia branding.

Inside ticks a Snapdragon 650 processor and 3 gigs of RAM. The storage is 32GB, but the dual-SIM model will have a 64 gig variant as well. The device is loaded in terms of connectivity options, so you get DLNA, NFC, Miracast, Google Cast, GPS and GLONASS, apart from the usual stuff. The Xperia X also boasts quite a few sound-related goodies, which include the likes of high-res audio and Digital Noise Cancelling.

A 2,620mAh battery provides the juice, and while that may not sound too promising (considering that most smartphones now boast at least 3,000mAh batteries), the Xperia X promises outstanding usage times. The device features Qnovo Adaptive Charging that claims to maintain battery life while charging. The tech monitors battery health in real time and keeps adjusting charging current in order to prolong the battery lifespan in terms of charging cycles. Combined with Sony’s Smart Battery Management tech, the Xperia X promises up to two days of usage on a single charge.

The other area where the Xperia X shines is its camera. The 13-meg front snapper offers pristine low-light selfies, as per Sony, while the 23-megapixel rear shooter focusses and shoots in a jiffy. Loaded with specs like a 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS sensor, a 24mm wide-angle G lens with f/2.0 aperture, and ISO that goes up to 12800, it also boasts Predictive Hybrid Autofocus that lets you choose a moving person or subject in a scene and can automatically track it. We saw a demo of this capability at Sony’s MWC booth and came away impressed. The camera app looks clean, but a few test shots we took during this hands on indicate that Sony could just have a winner here when it comes to smartphone photography.

 

Software-wise, you get Marshmallow, decked up with Sony’s custom skin that doesn’t do much to change the look and feel of the stock Android UI. 

As of now, we don’t know when Sony plans to bring the Xperia X to India, and what it’d be priced at, but its good to see the brand attempting to focus on the basics, so to speak. Both battery life and camera quality are top parameters while zeroing down on a new daily driver and these are the exact areas where the Xperia X (and its other two X siblings) seem to shine. Early days yet, so we’ll just have to wait before we get a chance to play with Sony’s new range and figure out how well the smartphones work in real life.

 

With inputs from Ketaki Bhojnagarwala



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