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Sony Xperia X Performance: Hands-On Review

Oct 11th 2017

If you are one of those people who follow the cell phone industry as intently as we do, you will know about the few bumps Sony may have had over the past few years. The company stuck to its tradition of releasing a Z Phone every eight months or so; however, when they arrived at their fifth version back in 2015, they knew that there weren’t much that they can do with their Z phones that come after that. It seems that the “Best of Sony” had a limit attached to it. Sony turned around; however, at this year’s Mobile World Congress, Sony showed promises after unveiling their new Xperia X Phone with its Performance counterpart. While the first glance was a letdown for most people since it looks too much like its predecessors; there were optimistic faces in the crowd as Sony said they were breaking ties with the past.

Getting our hands on the phone, we would say that there are marked improvements compared to its predecessors which makes the phone seem all good, but at US$699, we are just not sure if the price of the phone is justified. So let’s find out more about the phone and at the end of it all, we will let you be the judge!

Design:

Well, first things first, let’s talk about how the phone feels when held and looks. The slightly curved edges of the glass front catch the eye primarily and the vibe given off is a very elegant one. The 1080p resolution given off by the 5-inch display also looks pretty vibrant with a higher color contrast, but if you compare it to the top-tier phones in the market today, the display looks pretty low resolution to be honest which is puzzling because, at that price, you would expect your display to live up to the standards set by high-end phones. The best thing about the design; however, is the brushed metal chassis which fits perfectly in your hand and is easy to slide into your pocket.

Other than that, the design touches are pretty subtle which minimalists might love. In our rose gold preview unit, overall the phone looked pretty great! When it comes to smartphone design nowadays, you have to talk about the port placement and layout as well. Well, the good news here as the ports were placed very thoughtfully and we had no problems using any of them. The button placement was thoughtful as well. The home button, the dedicated Camera button, and Power buttons are all placed nicely; however, the volume rocker may be problematic for a few people.

The phone has a dustproof and waterproof rating of IP68 which means that the phone will be fine if dropped up to a meter underwater for up to 30 minutes. The phone is also slightly smaller than most of its competitors on the market, measuring in 144x70x8.7mm, the phone is quite small but weighing around 165 gram, it has also been said to be much heavier than most of its competitors.

The Hardware

Sony actively claims that the specification of the Xperia X Performance is what differentiates it from the rest of the phones in the market. Well, the phone is built around a processor of a quad-core Snapdragon 820 which currently holds the top rank for being Qualcomm’s fastest ever chip and mind you, this is the same processor featured in the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5 and HTC 10- the 3GB RAM complements the chipset brilliantly and combines to give you a seamless operating experience which to be honest is pretty darn great! The phone runs Android 6 Marshmallow and the best thing about it is that the phone’s spec is actually a better match than the software allowing it to run apps and run low demanding games with minimal effort. We actually found out that even the much slower Snapdragon 650 chipset is capable of sustaining Android 6.0 on similar display features.

The Xperia series had a trademark complaint associated with each and every one of its models, while apps and games always seem to work well, the Camera app always lags and sometimes the whole experience of taking pictures lags as well. The Xperia X Performance has tackled that problem on a larger scale. When you compare it to its predecessor, the X, the X Performance is much faster.

Battery Life:

The phone is fitted with a 2700mAh battery and after an overnight charge, it pretty much boils down to what you want to be doing on the phone. If you are using it heavily, i.e. watching books, listening to music, video calling, etc. You might need to charge the phone every 6 hours, but if talking and texting is all that you do on your phone, you might even have 30% juice left on your phone and still last a day, with ease!

The Camera

High Light Shot

With every phone by Sony, you need to reserve a large section to write about the Cameras and this phone is no different. The 23MP rear camera has a much enhanced quality compared to the Xperia X. The Exmor RS is of high quality but when we were trying to take low light snaps, we had a lot of problems. The lack of optical image stabilization causes the phone to raise the light sensitivity in low light; however, the light sensitivity is often raised too much, consequently, the camera has a very difficult time focusing subjects and the photos that come out become blurred. However, other than the problem encountered under low lights, the camera is pretty much fine, in fact, it’s actually great if you are trying to take shots in the day.

Low-Light Shots

Keeping up with the competition in producing great portrait photos, Sony has added the relatively intelligent Superior Auto mode that allows you to take great portraits. But as mentioned above, when we brought the phone inside the house, we realized that it cant even capture the slowest of motions. The front camera is a 13MP front facing camera which is actually one of the best sensors we have tried this year, it’s even fitted with the wide f2.0 lens which allows you to take large group selfies, do quick focus and enables it with the smile shutter feature, which is actually pretty cool.

But here’s the real question that we need to ask? Is it the best $500+ Android phone camera out there? Sadly, no! Not even close, there are much better competitors out there in the market.