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Sony Xperia XA2 hands-on: an impressive new mid-range device

AndroidPIT Sony Xperia XA2 0214
© nextpit by Irina Efremova

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Sony’s mid-range will undergo a complete overhaul in 2018. The Xperia XA2 comes with a modernized design, a bigger display, a new processor and a much larger battery. In this hands-on review you’ll find out in what way Sony’s new mid-range has improved.

Sony Xperia XA2
Sony Xperia XA2: All deals

Sony Xperia XA2 release date and price

The Sony Xperia XA2 was introduced at the same time as the larger Xperia XA2 Ultra and the redone entry-level Xperia L2 at CES 2018 in early January. Sony’s new mid-range will be available in the US starting this week from sites like Amazon and Best Buy. Sony’s recommended retail price for the Xperia XA2 is $349. It addition to the classic black and silver colors, the Xperia XA2 is also available in blue and pink.

The device is currently being sold unlocked in the US and is compatible with GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile, but isn’t compatible with Sprint and Verizon Wireless.


Sony Xperia XA2 design and build quality

At first glance, the Sony Xperia XA2 looks like a typical Sony smartphone that has been around for years. It’s only once you hold the smartphone in your hand and take a closer look at it that you see the changes in the design of the new Sony mid-range. The back has a slight curvature. The camera of the Xperia XA2 is centrally integrated into the back of the Xperia XA2, probably because Sony wanted a symmetrical design, as it’s their first time integrating a fingerprint reader. Not only is the the placement of the fingerprint sensor a novelty, but it’s also an impressive that Sony has integrated it into its mid-range device. The Xperia XA1 didn’t feature any kind of biometric sensor.

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The design looks familiar, but is somewhat different. / © NextPit

The other controls such as the power button, the volume control and the camera button are still found on the right side of the device. The left side is also very typical of Sony, as the MicroSD card slot is hidden behind a flap with the integrated SIM slot.

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All the buttons are arranged in the same way as previous Sony devices. / © NextPit

The Xperia XA2’s frame is made of aluminum and the back is made of plastic. The plastic is necessary for the hidden antennas on the back, which aren’t shielded by this material.

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There’s a novelty in the Sony mid-range: the fingerprint sensor. / © NextPit

More display including more pixels

Unlike their competitors from China and Korea, Sony isn’t eager to jump on the 18:9 format bandwagon. Instead, the Xperia XA2 still has the classic 16:9 format. The screen, however, has made the leap to 5.2 inches and Sony is finally providing a mid-range smartphone with a Full HD display. The case-display ratio is approx. 75% and its pixel density of 424 ppi is absolutely impressive.

On the software side, Sony has become a model student in the past year. Even in its factory state it comes with Android 8.0 as well as the January 2018 security patch, which both don’t necessarily come as standard in a mid-range smartphone.

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With an almost identical size, Sony has given the XA2 a bigger display with full HD. / © NextPit

Old camera setup with a unique software highlight

The Xperia XA2 camera is no big surprise at first sight. The main camera has the same 23-megapixel sensor as the Sony Xperia XA1 from 2017, and the hardware is identical to its predecessor’s, except for one small detail: it’s a shame that the aperture was reduced from f/2.0 to f/2.4.

But the hardware (the sensor), the aperture and optics are just the basic framework for high-quality photos and videos. The software is also a huge factor in the final result of photos and videos on a smartphone, as Google has already proven in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. We’ll find out soon how well Sony has adapted the software of the Xperia XA2 to the sensor. Interestingly, there is one small surprise when you go through the menus of the software: Sony still has to start the 4K mode as an app when using the camera.

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The camera is from the 2017 hardware, but the software has a hidden pearl. / © NextPit

But there is a surprise when you look at the video settings of the camera app: videos can be recorded with the Xperia XA2 in High Dynamic Range! I currently know of no other smartphone in this price range that can offer this feature. We’ll dedicate a separate article to this discovery, so keep your eyes peeled.

Sony Xperia XA2 benchmarks: The change from MediaTek to Qualcomm is impressive

Test Result
3DMark Sling Shot Vulkan 697 points
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 823 points
3DMark Sling Shot 1.326 points
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 16.947 points
Geekbench 4 (Single / Multi Core) 859 / 4.190 points
PassMark Memory 6.015 points
PassMark Disk 52.038 points

Many people will be wondering why Sony made the price of the Xperia XA2 $50 more expensive than the XA1. One of the reasons for this is undoubtedly the fact that a more powerful processor has now been installed within the smartphone. Instead of a MediaTek Helio P20 like in the XA1, the XA2 utilizes the Snapdragon 630 processor. The 3 GB of RAM and the 32 GB of internal memory, which can be expanded up to 400 GB with the help of microSD cards, remain unchanged. The benchmark results show that the Sony Xperia XA2 has good performance values that correspond to its hardware.

A potential battery miracle

Sony is surprisingly upgrading the Xperia XA2 with a special battery upgrade. Instead of 2,300 mAh as in its predecessor, there is now a full 3,300 mAh. In other words, the XA2 has what it needs to become an endurance athlete.

Quick Charge 3.0 is the fastest way to charge the battery, thanks to the switch to a Qualcomm processor. Unfortunately Sony doesn’t include this charger with the phone. So if you want to recharge the XA2 quickly, you’ll have to upgrade to a QC 3.0 power supply, which will cost you an additional $30.

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Thanks to Qualcomm SoC, the XA2 can be quickly charged via Quick Charge 3.0. It’s too bad Sony doesn’t include the charger! / © NextPit

Sony Xperia XA2 technical specifications

Early Verdict

Sony has given its mid-range a genuine overhaul that certainly justifies the price increase. It’s astonishing that the Xperia XA2’s camera has a feature that even Sony’s PR and marketing department don’t know about: HDR video recordings in Full HD is pretty special for this price range, isn’t it? This option isn’t mentioned on the product page or in the technical data. So we’ll have to take a closer look at the Xperia XA2 and see how the camera performs.

This test report will be extended step by step. In this main article you’ll find basic information and benchmarks. If you’d like to find out more about the individual aspects, you’ll find detailed information on this in other articles that will be linked to this one. We’re currently testing this new way of doing reviews. Feel free to tell us what you think and make suggestions for improvement.

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Shu On Kwok

Shu On Kwok
Senior Editor

Since 1999, Shu has written about the colorful world of IT and telecommunications. His career started as a presenter at the five-hour TV show NBC GIGA, which led him through several career stages until he finally joined the AndroidPIT team in May of 2015. His passion for mobile devices and gadgets knows no boundaries. Whether Android, iOS or Windows, Shu feels at home with any OS.

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  • David Martrano 29
    David Martrano Feb 18, 2018 Link to comment

    Why didn't Sony include the quick charger in the box. So an extra 30 bucks. Why?

    • 1
      C. McCamto Nov 15, 2019 Link to comment

      You answered your own question. Sony want the $30. Most customers wouldn't know the fast charger wasn't in the box until they'd bought the phone. It's the same reason a case and screen protector aren't in the box despite being necessary if you like your phone to stay in one piece. Z5 had a fingerprint sensor but they turned it off in the States. They have very little business sense, but they do make good phones.