Hands on: Sony Xperia XA2

Sony's Xperia XA2 (Image: Sony)

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26 April 2018 | 0

 

These days, mid-range phones are a sort of minefield of parts bin assembly. Some can be the best of their more expensive stablemates, while others can be a mishmash of the other end of the line.

The Xperia XA2 is, depending on what you are looking for, the best of such things, or not a runner at all.

If you are looking for high spec aspects such as camera, screen, processor and battery life, but are not concerned by thin, light or spangley, then this is the phone for you. If you want the look of a range topper, and are willing to sacrifice technical capabilities or features for it, move along.

Being firmly on the former category, this hack was delighted to see a mid-range phone with a decent processor and RAM combination, as well as a 23MP camera, superb screen and decent battery. The XA2 runs the Qualcomm SDM630 Snapdragon 630 Chipset, with an octa-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, paired with the Adreno 508 GPU, supported by 3GB of RAM and a 3,300MAh battery. The 132mm (5.2”) screen runs a resolution of 1080 x 1920, at a 16:9 ratio for a density 424 ppi.

As this is a mid-range device, alas, this does not come wrapped in a wafer thick case of glass and alloy, rather the screen is Gorilla Glass 4, but the top and tail are aluminium and the back is plastic with dimensions of 142 x 70 x 9.7 mm and a weight of 171g. No waif, sure, but no brick either and surprisingly comfortable in the hand and in use. The only gripe is that the slightly sharp design is a little less than pocket friendly. Despite its overall dimensions being not big, it can still feel a little awkward in a jeans pocket. Not the worst fault in such a device.

In usage, it is fast, stable and expandable, coming with a MicroSD card slot alongside the SIM slot, which are both covered by an easily removed cover, no longer necessitating a paperclip after you have inevitably lost the wee little poky thing that usually is supplied for the purpose. Kudos Sony.

The rear fingerprint sensor is responsive and accurate, and, as long as you register fingers on both hands, makes the phone secure without sacrificing any usability. That said, the facial recognition is also very good, supported by Android 8, and gives an extra layer of both aspects of the above.

The full specs don’t necessarily get to the nub of matter. This has all the capability of a much more expensive device, in, shall we say, a more robust, slightly dowdy dress — and that is a winning formula. One cares not for champagne this and rose gold that, nor mirror glass and polished alloy. Highly tempered glass, and plastic that resists my inevitable rough usage is of far more worth over the life of a device.

So, this is a really well spec’ed mid-range device, except for that it has a 23MP camera. Whereas most other mod-range devices still have the 12-16MP range of camera, a Sony 23MP camera is something special still. Some have griped about the fact that the camera is not as user friendly as it could be, but from this reviewer’s perspective, it is because this camera is a camera, it is not a feature added to a phone. As such, it is controlled like a fully-fledged camera. Is that bad? It depends on perspective. It still has all the selfie capability you will need from the 8MP forward-facing camera, including extra-wide angle just in case you haven’t alienated your entire cadre of friends through poor social media management.

If you are looking for a well spec’ed phone with a particular emphasis on camera capability but are unconcerned by styling, this is the number one choice. If you need a bit more style with your substance but can’t quite stretch to the higher end of the ranges, then this may not be for you.

 

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