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Xperia XA Ultra review: average camera, amazing battery

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The Xperia XA Ultra comes to the domestic market in two weeks and its main feature is its 16 MP front camera supported by an LED flash. The device's 6-inch screen also draws attention along with its design. But will this phablet deliver the best performance in its category? Check out the pros and cons of the Xperia XA Ultra in my full review.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra


  • Xperia UI
  • Good battery life
  • Quality front camera
  • Camera software


  • Rear camera
  • Performance
Sony Xperia XA Ultra: All deals

Sony Xperia XA Ultra release date and price

Sony has a launch event scheduled for August 10 in São Paulo, at 10am, where it will make the official announcement of this smartphone. Therefore, we do not have a suggested retail price of the device, or the date on which will be available for purchase. However, the specifications of the XA Ultra are higher than the Xperia X, which hit the market for $550 so expect a price above this.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra design and build quality

Compared with the line Xperia Z and even the Xperia X and X Performance, the Xperia XA Ultra has a design feature that draws our attention when the screen is activated: the lack of bezels. In this sense, Sony is to be congratulated on the X series.

Another very interesting feature is a 16 MP sensor on the upper front of the XA Ultra, which, despite its size, hasn't increased the upper and lower bezels compared to the previous models.

AndroidPIT sony xperia xa ultra review 2797
The Xperia XA Ultra is pure screen. / © NextPit

The Xperia XA Ultra is not a discrete device with its 6-inch screen and holding the device in your hands is not as comfortable as having a model like the Moto X Style, for example, with its back curve. So if you have no interest in phablets, I advise not to buy the Xperia XA Ultra. Now if this is your niche, be aware that Sony actually managed to optimize the front of the unit for the screen.

Despite the Ultra name, the new phablet Sony does not have premium features. This is midrange phone with some extra features, but does not have the fingerprint reader like the Xperia X. Thus, the device comes with the same features as the Xperia Z3+ design.

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The position of the speaker could not be worse for those who use the smartphone for gaming and multimedia. / © NextPit

The frame of the Xperia XA Ultra is made of aluminum, but the back is clear polycarbonate. The model only weighs 202 g and is 8.4 mm thick.

On the left side of the frame, we have the SIM card and Micro-SD memory card slots covered with a lid. However, this characteristic of the Xperia line smartphones ensure water resistance but in the case of Ultra XA it is purely aesthetic, since the device does not have waterproof certification.

AndroidPIT sony xperia xa ultra review 2829
The SIM and micro-SD slots are protected by a cover, but it does not mean that the device is water resistant. / © NextPit

At the top, there is a mini jack for headphones, and at the bottom we find a speaker. Incidentally, there is no worse position for the speakers for playing games or watching videos.

The Xperia XA Ultra will be available in four colors: white, black, gold and lime.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra display

The Xperia XA Ultra screen 6 inches with a decent pixel density of 367 ppi. The screen has a Full HD resolution with IPS LCD technology, which offers a good experience in bright sunlight when the screen brightness is at 100% capacity.

AndroidPIT sony xperia x 2788 ultra review
The Xperia XA Ultra gives us some rich colors. / © NextPit

For multimedia, the XA Ultra screen is above average, the viewing angles are really good. However, sometimes the experience with the white balance is not satisfactory. Almost all images make the cameras look bad on the handset screen, but when put on the computer they look better. I think this is the first time I have had this experience, it's usually the opposite.

androidpit xa ultra white balance
The white balance feature is not very convenient to use. / © NextPit

Sony offers us a chance to modify the white balance, but despite trying to have the hottest colors using this function, it still fails to be worth a mention in this review since the change has to be made in the eye and there are no ways or pre-established standard to assist the user. Experience with the screen brightness is good, one of the best I've ever had with a Sony device.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra software

In the Xperia XA Ultra, Sony used polished software and kept the UI light and colorful. Android 6.0 Marshmallow comes installed on Xperia XA Ultra have some new elements such as a new look for the SMS application and Swiftkey keyboard as standard in place of the Xperia Keyboard.

androidpit xa ultra white message
SwiftKey is preinstalled by default on the Xperia XA Ultra. / © NextPit

Among the features that attract our attention, use of the device with one hand is a great option for a 6-inch device, however, you have to set it in the best possible way before going to use it. If you kept the lock screen active in general you have to give two commands until you can launch the camera or dialer quickly by dragging your finger right or left will reduce the screen to use with one hand.

I must say that I did not like this solution by Sony, especially since the use of the device with one hand already comes pre-selected. And when you realize that in the midst of this situation you would need to quickly launch the dialer from the lock screen, the quality of user experience is reduced.

androidpit xa ultra white one hand
The Xperia XA Ultra can be used with one hand. / © NextPit

The Xperia UI also has a new lock screen and a system of apps suggestions that run from the home screen. Sony has a number of pre-installed applications, some removable and others not, such as Spotify, the Kobo eBooks, Sky Go, Amazon and AVG anti-virus.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra performance

Inside, the Xperia XA Ultra comes with the same processor as the original intermediate Xperia X and not too exciting for a smartphone with "Ultra" in the name. The CPU is MediaTek Helio P10 2.0GHz octa-core chip is one for intermediaries. The device's internal memory is 3 GB and storage is 16 GB and can be expanded up to 200GB via a microSD card.

If the smaller version of the Xperia X series graphics were already lower than expected for the GPU Helio P10, which has two cores 700 MHz. With the Xperia XA Ultra, which has a larger screen, we had almost the same points between them. With the XA Ultra, the games can still run at 720p, however, if you want to use the potential of the XA Ultra screen, which offers 1080p, the graphics will be reduced.

AndroidPIT sony xperia xa ultra screenshot 1 benchmark
The Xperia Ultra XA could be more swift. / © NextPit

Recalling that the chipset architecture is the Cortex A-53 mid-range, which can justify the intermediate performance octa-core processor.

But what bothered me most was the delay to open some applications, especially in multitasking. This could be improved by accelerating the range of animations in the developer options. However, a new device with a CPU like the Helio P10 with 3GB of RAM should not do that.

Now, one thing is certain, we recommend the use of a microSD card to optimize the performance of Xperia X, and this will also be the case of the XA Ultra, which comes with only 16 GB of internal storage.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra audio

Like the Xperia X, and other smartphones from the Japanese manufacturer, the XA Ultra has a speaker slightly more acute. Call quality is clear and we do not have that 'echo' in the background. In the test model that Sony sent to  AndroidPIT, it did not offer the headphones in the box.

Accessing the device settings, we have the chance to use the equalizer application of Xperia UI, which has settings for bass and treble tones.

The sound of Sony's mono speaker is good, despite the metallic effect of audio when the volume is at 100% capacity. However, the option to put it in the bottom right affects gaming and video watching.

What really caught my attention was the capture audio from the microphones. I had the chance to use the device for a concert and the audio clarity was impressive.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra camera

The Xperia XA Ultra is the unicorn of the Xperia series because the front camera offers better results than the rear. Unlike the Xperia Ultra C5, in which both cameras had the same sensor, the XA Ultra front camera is 16 MP, with an f / 2.0 aperture supported by an LED flash; while the rear camera is 21,5 MP with an aperture of f / 2.2 and  LED flash support.

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The use of the flash in front camera helps with the quality of images. / © NextPit

Interestingly, the 16 MP camera has an optical image stabilizer, which functions as digital stabilization. With the videos I took, my impression is that the front camera did a much better service, even for the capture of images, since it is optimized for low light conditions.

androidpit xa ultra phot
Sony offers numerous settings to optimize your photo and video experience. / © NextPit

Regarding the rear camera, when we look at the photos and videos in a software on a computer, you can identify slight smudges or distortions in the images captured by the device. The media captured with the front camera actually maintained decent quality.

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The front camera is best for videos and photos better with the back camera. / © NextPit

The hybrid auto focus Xperia XA Ultra is excellent for those who like to focus on the scene and capture images quickly, however, it seemed slower than the Xperia Z5, for example. As is traditional in Sony smartphones, the Xperia XA Ultra comes equipped with a physical button to be used as the camera trigger.

Although the camera has an interesting manual mode, the Superior Auto function can be the most viable way for those who have no expertise with adjusting smartphone camera settings.

  • Check here the Xperia X Ultra camera test photos in high-resolution

Unfortunately, I had problems when using the camera application. I encountered an error that made the software freeze four times when I was using the front camera. After several attempts to fix the problem without having another application use the camera in the background or something, I had to reset the machine. I'm sorry to say that the camera sensor then overheated.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra battery

The Sony Xperia XA Ultra has a small battery capacity for its size, 2,700 mAh. In comparison, the Xperia Z5 Compact has the same 2,700mAh battery, but with a 4.6-inch screen. In the review of the Xperia X, done by my colleague Eric Herrmann, the device left much to be desired in the question of battery life. But during my test with the Ultra variant, I confess that I was surprised with the capability of this unit.

AndroidPIT sony xperia xa ultra screenshot 1 bettery
The Xperia Ultra XA does pretty well in terms of battery. / © NextPit

The Xperia XA Ultra offers good performance when it comes to battery life, and can reach up to 8 hours of use for videos, which is enough for a device with its specifications. In benchmark tests, the Xperia XA Ultra performed, as shown above, like devices such as the Moto G4 Plus, Xperia X and LG G5, for example.

Additionally, the load time of the device is fast due to the use of UCH12 technology, which uses fast load support from Qualcomm. That's really positive.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra technical specifications

Final verdict

The Xperia XA Ultra is better than the original variant of the series. However, it is a phablet and there are few people who can really use a 6-inch smartphone on a daily basis. Despite the beautiful design and a great front camera, the rear camera is weak.

This smartphone is designed for those who really want to get all the potential that a front camera can offer

Despite the good contrast and excellent viewing angles of the Xperia XA Ultra screen, colors and white balance end up hurting the user experience. Despite the good energy battery, Sony could have offered a much larger capacity given the device size.

The Sony software is full of features and has one of the best made of Android interfaces, however, the hardware does not offer a good performance. This smartphone is designed for those who really want to take all the potential that a front camera can offer, as well as quality audio. But if you want a big screen for a good gaming experience, the quality of the XA Ultra graphics does not help. Now, if you want to use the device for social media and instant messaging networks, you will not find many problems.

The price of the Xperia XA Ultra will be known on August 10, but one thing is for sure, it will come to around $550. A good alternative to this device may be the Zenfone 3 Ultra, which should reach the market in mid-September.

What do you think of the Xperia XA Ultra? Let us know in the comments.

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Camila Rinaldi

Camila Rinaldi
Head of Editorial

With over a decade of experience in tech product reviews, I’ve recently embraced the world of wearables and developed a passion for digital health innovations. While I am now deeply immersed in the Apple ecosystem, my enthusiasm for Android still burns strong. Formerly editor-in-chief at AndroidPIT and Canaltech in Brazil, I now share my insights with the US audience at nextpit. Beyond tech, I cherish my vinyl collection and believe exploring local cuisine is the best way to discover new places. Join me as I explore the fusion of technology and culture in our everyday lives.

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  • 1
    ann snaddon Dec 27, 2016 Link to comment

    i have the xa ultra and for some reason when i put the sd card in it is not working nothing comes up just like it wasnt there

  • branden neal 1
    branden neal Dec 19, 2016 Link to comment

    I have this phone. Honestly its amazing.......... for the price. If you compare this to the new samsung or iphone it loses in almost every category, but remember that it costs like a third of the price of those. i spent $290 on this phone and its a crazy good deal for that price. the processor and screen eat up the battery, but i prefer performance over battery conservation. The amazing qualities of this phone are the price, the performance from the octa core processor and the front camera. the average and sub average parts of this phone are the rear camera and the slowness when taking photos. the one and only very bad quality on this phone is the white balance of the screen. its way way off. i live with it though since the phone is such a good deal for the price. if you want the best phone in the world, go pay $950 for an iphone or samsung. if you want an amazing phone for the price, get this phone.

  • 1
    DVJ Rick Kraft Nov 24, 2016 Link to comment

    The title of this really is the reverse. I own this phone, have had it for 3 months. Camera is amazing. Battery is constantly dying. Never had this problem with my HTC M7 or M8. It's due to apps not being suspended properly in memory.

  • 1
    Mephisto Nov 10, 2016 Link to comment

    Hi, I really like this phone & planning to buy it. My only concern is the small 2700mah battery. Can it really last a whole day? I just wonder why Sony put such a small batt in a big phone :/

  • 2
    Anoop Nair Aug 1, 2016 Link to comment

    The phone is on sale since last week and I've bought one since. Aesthetically appealing. Full of screen. Nice finishin.good to watch movies and social networking in a bezel less design. Audio is kinda metallic when in top volume but can make use of a good headphone😊. Battery is awesome can keep me connected all the time. Camera sensor overheating is a concern. Just open up the camera and feel the heat😛 Hope they come up with a fix soon.

    Mario R.

  • Syed 7
    Syed Jul 30, 2016 Link to comment

    I don't think better than oneplus 3... Sony has numbers on both rear and front not quality... I put oneplus 3 and ultra side by side oneplus 3 is quite natural than ultra on both sides... Poor from Sony disappointed you loss my 1299 dirhams

    • John Mesa 1
      John Mesa Jul 31, 2016 Link to comment

      check gsmarena and phoneareana, they praise xa ultra camera and performace.

      • Syed 7
        Syed Jul 31, 2016 Link to comment

        I trust my eyes more than gsmarena or phonearena

  • Ravindu Thimantha Gamage 8
    Ravindu Thimantha Gamage Jul 30, 2016 Link to comment

    //while the rear camera is 5 MP with an aperture of f / 2.2 and LED flash support.//

    Correct this :) It's 21.5MP

  • John Mesa 1
    John Mesa Jul 30, 2016 Link to comment

    Interesting, 2 tech site already review how great the rear camera for a midranger especially when you used the HDR mode in manual. hmmmmm

    • Josh 5
      Josh Aug 1, 2016 Link to comment

      and if 3 other tech sites say its not that great? Apparently AndroidPIT's results werent that great compared to other phones, that's all they say.

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