Sony Mobile has started 2018 on a very strong foot, thanks to the excellent Xperia XA2 smartphone. This great-value mobile hits the UK this month, packing a smart 23-megapixel camera, long battery life and some well-considered software. Here’s our full Sony Xperia XA2 review, so you know whether this is your next smartphone.
Sony Xperia XA2 review: Design
When it comes to design, I instantly fell in love with the Xperia XA2. Plucking it out of the box, I was surprised by the weight – this is one hefty blower, which definitely gives it a more premium feel than many other mid-range mobiles. Likewise, Sony has added some nice detailing to the aluminium edging, which elevates it above most of its brethren. Even the polycarbonate back doesn’t detract from the overall finish (although you’ll need to be careful as it scratches easily).
This is a pleasingly comfortable handset to hold and use as well. The Xperia XA2 boasts a slightly bigger display than last year’s Xperia XA1, and yet is more or less the same size thanks to a narrowing of the top and bottom bezels. I certainly didn’t struggle to use the phone one-handed. Sony’s smartphone also sports a pleasingly curved chassis, which sits perfectly in your palm.
The older Xperia XA1 didn’t offer any kind of fingerprint security, but that’s changed for the XA2. In a first for Sony Mobile, this Xperia handset sports a scanner on the back plate. We always quite liked the edge-mounted fingerprint scanner, found on more premium Sony smartphones, yet this repositioning makes perfect sense.
For one, it’s a more comfortable and natural unlocking experience for left-handed users. And although this isn’t the fastest scanner around, we’re more than happy with the accuracy. Rarely did I have to tap my digits twice to unlock the XA2.
Sony Xperia XA2 review: Screen and media
That 5.2-inch IPS screen is another belter from Sony, which is no great surprise. Tap on the Super Vivid mode in the display settings and you’ll enjoy quite punchy colour reproduction, while the Full HD resolution helps to keep everything sharp. Photos and high-def movies look fantastic, although anyone who watches a lot of video on the move should consider the XA2 Ultra. This 6-inch smartphone packs a more spacious screen, for more comfortable viewing.
Audio is another highlight of the Xperia XA2. Sony’s software helps to boost the quality of your downloaded tracks, if you allow it, while manual controls are also available. And while the built-in speaker is rather tinny, you can connect headphones via Bluetooth 5 or the 3.5mm jack.
As for storage, you get a pretty basic 32GB of space packed inside of the Xperia XA2. However, almost half of this is used up by Android and Sony’s apps, so you’ll likely be struggling quite soon if you download a lot of songs and movies.
Don’t fret, though. Sony has included microSD memory card support, so you can quickly and easily expand the available space. Cards of up to 256GB are accepted, giving plenty of room for a massive media collection.
Sony Xperia XA2 review: Features
While we’re still waiting for the latest version of Google’s Android OS on the Xperia XA1, impatient types can grab the Xperia XA2 instead. Android Oreo comes packed onto the phone straight out of the box – no hanging around.
Most of these updates work behind the scenes, to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. Just as well, as most of the front-facing features are admittedly not great. Check out our Android Oreo review for more info.
Of course, Sony has added its own lick of paint on top of Android as usual. The Sony Mobile overlay changes the look and feel of your desktops and icons, although it all remains customisable as ever. In addition, you get some bonus features which are (for the most part) genuinely useful.
For example, the one-handed mode has now migrated from the bigger Ultra models to the Xperia XA2. And while it’s much less essential on this handset, it’s still very nice to have.
As well as further customisation options, Sony has added the ability to hook up to your PS4. However, the Remote Play feature (for streaming games to your Xperia phone) is missing in action at the time of review. Instead you simply get Second Screen functionality, which is no great shakes.
Better is the built-in audio support, which helps to bring your downloaded tracks to life. And there are some very helpful built-in guides for Xperia noobs, to quickly get to grips with the handset.
Check out our full Xperia XA2 tips and tricks guide to see all of these features in action.
Sony Xperia XA2 review: Performance and battery life
Previous cut-price Sony phones have come packing a Mediatek processor, which usually provides quite basic performance. However, for the Xperia XA2, we get an upgrade to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 chipset. This is made for mid-range mobiles and is backed here by 3GB of RAM.
While AnTuTu benchmarking tests don’t show a huge improvement over the Xperia XA1, we found that the XA2 ran quite smoothly for everyday tasks. We did see a couple of little stutters here and there, but certainly nothing too disagreeable. Best of all, fast-paced action games run with a dependable frame rate.
Battery life is even better. Sony has stuffed a mighty 3300mAh battery inside of the Xperia XA2, which probably helps to account for that heft. As a result, I always got well over a day of life between charges. If you don’t abuse the heck out of the phone, you’ll even stretch to two full days of play time.
If you do find somehow yourself running low on juice, Sony has kindly included two stamina modes to help out. These cull non-essential features, extending the remaining running time. And when you do eventually plug in the Xperia XA2, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 means you’ll be back up to full power in just over an hour.
You’ll also find the usual Qnovo tech on board, which helps to prevent the battery from overcharging. Over time you therefore shouldn’t see any degradation in performance.
Sony Xperia XA2 review: Cameras
Slapped on the back of the Xperia XA2 is another great Sony Mobile camera. This is one of the best smartphone snappers we’ve tested at this price point, offering strong functionality and solid everyday performance.
Like the Xperia XA1, this is a 23-megapixel shooter with Exmor RS lens, all of Sony’s own creation. However, while the specs are very similar, you can expect a few improvement. Especially when it comes to shooting home movies. For unlike last year’s handset, the Xperia XA2 boasts Full HD recording at 60 frames-per-second, and can even capture super-crisp 4K resolution footage. On top of that you also get a new slow motion feature, which proves handy for those awesome action clips.
For all you need to know, have a gander at our in-depth Xperia XA2 camera review.
Sony Xperia XA2 review: Verdict
As much as I loved the Xperia XA1, the XA2 is a big upgrade in so many areas. The design has been reworked for a more premium finish, while the impressive battery life and gorgeous display also boost this phone over most other mid-rangers. For just £300 here in the UK, you won’t find many other mobiles that offer the same fantastic all-round experience.
You can grab the Sony Xperia XA2 from O2 on contract from February.
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