Sony Xperia XA2 review

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Introduction

Sony may be looking beyond smartphones but the Xperia line is still standing its ground. The recently unveiled Xperia XA2 series is not only a statement of persistence, but also shows intent for expansion. And the Xperia XA2 bodes well for Sony’s new generation of smartphones this season.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

It improves on pretty much everything the Xperia XA1 had. The XA2 puts a larger screen of higher-resolution in a more compact body with even less bezels. The whole thing is powered by a modern and efficient Snapdragon 630 chipset and 4K video is added to the bill, courtesy of the same 23MP sensor. Battery capacity has been increased and there is a brand new rear-mounted fingerprint sensor available to all models, including US-bound. Now, ain’t that finally something?

Those are good enough reasons to look forward to the Ultra line but also feel upbeat about the new bunch of Xperias that will come our way in the following months. Here goes the promising XA2 at a glance.

Sony Xperia XA2 specs:

  • Body: Aluminum frame, polycarbonate back; silver, black, blue, and pink (the latter is for select markets only) color schemes.
  • Display: 5.2″ 1,920×1,080 LCD, 424ppi pixel density.
  • Rear camera: 23MP, 1/2.3″ sensor size, f/2.0 aperture, 25mm-equiv. focal length. Hybrid (PD/contrast) autofocus. 2160p/30fps video recording.
  • Front camera: 8MP, 120-degree field of view; fixed focus. 1080p/30fps video recording.
  • OS/Software: Android 8.0 Oreo.
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 630: octa-core 2.2GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, Adreno 508 GPU.
  • Memory: 3GB of RAM; 32GB storage; hybrid microSD slot for expansion.
  • Battery: 3,300 mAh (sealed); QuickCharge 3.0 fast charging.
  • Connectivity: Single/Dual SIM; LTE Cat. 12/13 (600Mbps download); USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; GPS; NFC; Bluetooth 5; FM radio
  • Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; single speaker on the bottom; 3.5mm jack; two-stage hardware camera shutter release key.

While the Xperia XA2 Ultra has received a very generous selfie rig upgrade, Sony chose to re-sue the same 8MP wide-angle sensor from the XA1 over in the XA2. It now sits behind a darker f/2.4 lens though, and there is no autofocus to be found. But we have yet to look closer at what called for this change. We’ll get there in a bit.

Sony Xperia XA2 Unboxing

The retail box hasn’t got much besides the phone itself. You won’t get any headphones or a case, just a regular USB Type-C cable and a garden variety 1.5A charger. We guess that’s what midrange Xperia’s are going to be like, attractive specs but a rather basic bundle.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

But it only gets better from here, we promise. Let’s spin this XA2 around and see what it’s made of.

Design

We came to like the Sony Xperia XA1 last year, it was one of the sleekest smartphones around with a solidly built yet lightweight body. Naturally, we expected something similar with the XA2 but Sony decided to make some changes.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

For starters, it’s grown a little, but not in the way you’d expect given the bigger screen. The XA2 is actually shorter but a little wider. See, the new 5.2″ display may be 4 millimeters taller than the XA1’s but the phone is about as much shorter. It gained 3mm in width though, got almost 2mm thicker and nearly 30g heavier at a respectable 171g.

The Xperia XA2 is quite impressive up front. The new 5.2″ screen stretches from left to right leaving almost no bezels in sight and ends on the signature curve of the so-called loop surface. And now that the forehead and the chin have finally started shrinking, Sony seems well on the right track in terms of design.

Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 next to the Xperia XA1

The top and bottom sides of the XA2 are made of brushed metal and are completely flat. While this won’t boost either the handling or the grip, they surely helped our photographers stand the XA2 up for those beauty shots.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

Metal was used on the curved sides too, matte finish this time, which is not as grippy as the brushed top and bottom. The keys on the right-hand side seem to be metal too.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

The back is where things get really interesting with the XA2. And we have to admit, we weren’t fond of that newly-found curve at first. Simply put, it looks like the XA2’s battery has swollen under the cover. The hump in the middle won’t make the XA2 wobble on a flat surface, but it makes for the extra 2mm of thickness and indeed the phone looks fat at first glance.

Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 next to a swollen battery

After using the XA2 for a while be began to appreciate the odd shape. It just fits naturally in the hand, following the curves of your palm. And halfway through the busy review routine, the funny shape become a much appreciated feature.

Sony Xperia XA2 - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Sony Xperia XA2

And the new stuff at the rear doesn’t end there. The XA2 introduces some of the biggest changes the Xperia series have seen in a while. The 23MP camera is now centered at the top but the highlight of the new design is the repositioned fingerprint scanner, now also centered at the back. It’s like Sony is finally catching up with the competition. About time, right?

Sony Xperia XA2 review

The entire rear is made of matte plastic, which is fine, we are not dealing with a flagship here. But if you get the black model, like we did, expect some fingerprint smudges to stick and be quite a nuisance.

Sony Xperia XA2 - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Sony Xperia XA2

Other than that though, we found the Xperia XA2 to handle pretty well and be really comfortable to work with. It may not have the most secure grip, mostly compromised by the smooth, curved sides but it’s by no means a deal-breaker and, hey, it can stand up straight without help.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

Display

The Xperia XA2 is equipped with a 5.2-inch IPS display of FullHD resolution, making for a flagship-radio 424ppi density. Under a microscope, you’ll see a conventional RGB arrangement with equal number of subpixels for each primary color.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

Sony promises 500nits of brightness and even before we put the XA2 through our display test, it looks very promising.

In our tests, the Xperia XA2 demonstrated the same 530+ nits of brightness as the XA1. The black levels have improved a bit since the XA1 and thus the contrast ratio is now very good at north of 1300:1.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia XA2 0.401 532 1327
Sony Xperia XA1 0.512 537 1049
Motorola Moto X4 0.297 431 1451
Xiaomi Mi A1 0.351 551 1570
HTC U11 Life 0.357 546 1529
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 0 413
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus 0.548 555 1013
Sony Xperia XZ1 0.409 575 1406

Sunlight legibility is average on the XA2 as it was on the XA1 and XA1 Plus. AMOLEDs are superior out in direct sunlight, all of them as usual.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Apple iPhone X
    5.013
  • OnePlus 5T
    4.789
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Play
    4.459
  • Oppo R11
    4.454
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Nokia 8
    4.239
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (pre-update)
    4.234
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    4.148
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    4.147
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro (normal)
    4.096
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Google Pixel 2 (pre-update)
    4.023
  • LG V30
    4.022
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro
    3.998
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone)
    3.957
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • OnePlus 5
    3.914
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
    3.842
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    3.812
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3.767
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    3.765
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
    3.729
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus (True Tone)
    3.725
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
    3.597
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    3.378
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Archos Diamond Omega
    3.305
  • Honor 9
    3.289
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 5
    3.261
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    3.238
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    3.19
  • ZTE Nubia Z17
    3.159
  • Oppo R11s
    3.153
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • HTC U11 Life
    3.108
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Motorola Moto X4
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia L1
    2.994
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • LG Q6
    2.987
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    2.951
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    2.938
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.92
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Nokia 3
    2.871
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Nokia 2
    2.752
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Huawei Mate 10 (normal)
    2.742
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    2.737
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Huawei Honor 7X
    2.734
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    2.689
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • vivo V7+
    2.671
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Huawei Mate 10 Lite
    2.654
  • Oppo F5
    2.653
  • Doogee Mix
    2.642
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4a
    2.635
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Standard)
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 2
    2.561
  • HTC U11+
    2.556
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • BlackBerry Motion
    2.494
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Auto)
    2.417
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Vivo V7
    2.404
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Oppo F3
    2.376
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • Razer Phone
    2.328
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (X20)
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
    2.095
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

It’s color reproduction where the XA2 fails to impress. Its whites lean heavily towards cyan, to the tune of a DeltaE of around 11. The average DeltaE is an okay 6.4, but the whites you’ll probably notice.

Subjectively, also the representations of the red hues was quite muted too, particularly if you’re coming from an AMOLED, this would be the first thing to notice.

Sony has some options to basically make the colors punchy in pictures and videos. The option is within the display settings and you can opt for standard picture tuning or super-vivid.

Battery life

The Sony Xperia XA2 is equipped with a 3,300mAh power pack. We’d call that number the gold standard for a 5.2-inch midranger these days and a much-needed improvement over the XA1. The phone supports Quick Charge 3.0, though our unit came with a 1.5A charger that fills 30% of a depleted battery in half an hour. Some regions might get the faster charger bundled.

The XA2 aced all of our endurance tests and posted a respectable score of 92 hours.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Sony Xperia XA2 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.

As on all its other phones, Sony has equipped the XA2 with Qnovo Adaptive Charging and Battery care to help prolong the life of the built-in power pack by carefully controlling charging parameters.

Loudspeaker

The speaker on the Sony Xperia XA2 scored a Very Good mark in our loudness test, an improvement over the XA1’s average result. The sound is rich and crisp, with good bass and clean high notes.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) 65.8 66.0 66.5 Below Average
Sony Xperia XA1 61.7 69.7 71.8 Average
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 66.4 66.2 78.0 Good
Motorola Moto X4 67.2 71.1 80.7 Good
Sony Xperia XA2 68.7 72.7 78.3 Very Good
HTC U11 Life 70.9 75.3 88.0 Excellent
Xiaomi Mi A1 74.0 73.9 90.4 Excellent
Sony Xperia XA1 Plus 88.9 77.8 84.6 Excellent

Audio quality is poor with external amplifier, decent with headphones

The Sony Xperia XA2 did poorly when hooked up to an active external amplifier, having very distorted output and low volume. Frequency response and intermodulation distortion were way off the mark, suggesting some sort of issue the phone had in this case.

Plugging in a pair of headphones brought the clarity back and all the readings improved, save for the stereo crosstalk, which increased to average. Still the output is very good and accurate, even if loudness wasn’t quite the best once more.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Sony Xperia XA2 +68.12, -25.56 -92.8 79.3 0.0026 16.764 -87.8
Sony Xperia XA2 (headphones) +0.05, -0.02 -93.0 88.8 0.039 0.033 -57.6
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus +1.55, -0.61 -29.7 76.6 0.0017 12.493 -91.8
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus (headphones) +0.06, -0.02 -92.4 92.3 0.0023 0.025 -76.3
Nokia 2 +0.15, -0.23 -53.2 86.4 0.0021 3.246 -96.2
Nokia 2 (headphones) +0.02, -0.08 -89.5 89.9 0.0023 0.026 -59.3
LG Q6 +0.03, -0.05 -85.0 88.8 0.0014 0.0065 -92.9
LG Q6 (headphones) +0.14, -0.04 -91.8 91.8 0.0031 0.113 -56.8
Oppo F5 +0.06, -0.08 -93.5 93.3 0.0020 0.0071 -93.2
Oppo F5 (headphones) +0.64, -0.07 -89.3 91.3 0.0093 0.361 -52.0
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) +0.01, -0.03 -92.8 92.8 0.0032 0.031 -92.3
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) (headphones) +0.23, -0.15 -92.1 91.8 0.013 0.223 -77.3
Huawei P10 Lite +0.04, -0.02 -88.2 88.6 0.011 0.021 -84.3
Huawei P10 Lite (headphones) +0.13, -0.05 -87.4 87.7 0.014 0.084 -75.9

Sony Xperia XA2 frequency response
Sony Xperia XA2 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Android Oreo and Xperia play well

Sony Xperia XA2 runs on Android 8.0 Oreo. Despite the latest Android OS, don’t expect a radical change in the UI of the device compared to the XA1 as most of the changes the new OS brings are under the hood.

Long-term Sony fans should feel right at home with what is essentially the same Xperia launcher and overall light level of OS customization.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

The homescreen appears unchanged from previous Xperia generations. This includes the swipe down gesture, which shows a screen of the apps you use most along with recommendations for new apps to install. The search field is highlighted so you can start typing the app’s name immediately.

Xperia launcher - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewXperia launcher - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewXperia launcher - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewXperia launcher - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewXperia launcher - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Xperia launcher

The traditional app drawer is present, and you’ll find a number of proprietary apps pre-installed. Sony takes great pride in the A/V prowess of its devices, and the multimedia apps are all custom and feature-rich – Album, Music, and the Video app.

App drawer - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewAlbum - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewMusic - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewVideo - Sony Xperia XA2 review
App drawer • Album • Music • Video

Themes are available (both free and paid) that can customize the look and sound of the Xperia XA2. Some themes are even interactive, with their wallpapers reacting to your touches. Besides themes, the Xperia launcher also offers wallpapers, grid settings and various transition animation options.

Themes - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewThemes - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewThemes - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewThemes - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Themes

The notification drawer and the task switcher are very similar to the vanilla Android ones. There is also a Split Screen feature available to a limited number of apps.

Notifications - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewToggles - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewTask Switcher - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSplit Screen - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Notifications • Toggles • Task Switcher • Split Screen

Finally, in addition to the fingerprint unlock, you can setup Smart Lock. It gives you conditional security – trusted nearby devices, locations, faces, or voices can allow you to skip the security protocol that you may have set up on the phone.

Smart Unlock - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSmart Unlock - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSmart Unlock - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Smart Unlock

Benchmarks and performance

The Sony Xperia XA2 use the new mid-range chipset by Qualcomm – the Snapdragon 630. It is replacing the widespread and very efficient Snapdragon 625 that was the heart of a lot of smartphones throughout 2017. The new XA2 series also marks Sony’s departure from MediaTek’s chips, which were a good match for the XA1 lineup, but are left behind now that the phones have a more premium midrange vibe (and more premium pricing!).

Sony Xperia XA2 review

The Snapdragon 630 chip offers a classic octa-core Cortex-A53 processor now clocked at 2.2GHz (up from 2.0GHz in S625). The GPU in charge of graphics is Adreno 508. The Sony Xperia XA2 also comes with 3 gigs of RAM, while the Ultra model has 4GB.

GeekBench is where we go first, and the Xperia XA2 scored the same odd results we got from the U11 Life and Moto X4. Not that they are bad, on the contrary, but the numbers are on par with the slower 2.0GHz CPU available on the Snapdragon 625 inside the Xiaomi Mi A1 and Redmi 5 Plus.

The Galaxy A8 is superior here, as it achieves this score with two A73 cores instead of four A53s.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
    4418
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    4309
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    4292
  • Moto G5 Plus
    4255
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    4215
  • HTC U11 Life
    4140
  • Motorola Moto X4
    4136
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3611
  • Huawei Mate 10 Lite
    3603

Looking at some GFXBench onscreen graphic scores, the Adreno 508 inside the XA2 is on par with the same GPUs inside the Moto X4 and U11 Life rivals. It is noticeably faster than the previous Adreno 506 (Xiaomi’s phones), Samsung’s most recent Mali-G71 inside the Galaxy A8, and Huawei’s mid-range choice of Mali-T830.

The Xperia XA1 has an advantage of lower 720p screen resolution, which explains its better graphic performance.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XA1
    15
  • Motorola Moto X4
    11
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    10
  • HTC U11 Life
    9.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
    8.7
  • Moto G5 Plus
    6.4
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    6.3
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    6.2
  • Huawei Mate 10 Lite
    4.6

With comparable CPU performance and superior graphics results, it’s no wonder the Xperia XA2 does great in the compound AnTuTu benchmark. It’s beaten only by the Galaxy A8 (2018), which has a better processor and more RAM.

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
    85389
  • HTC U11 Life
    72854
  • Motorola Moto X4
    71224
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    70765
  • Moto G5 Plus
    63390
  • Huawei Mate 10 Lite
    63068
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    63019
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    61762
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    60707

The Sony Xperia XA2 delivers great performance for its class, and the new mid-range GPU looks very promising. The XA2 has balanced performance across the board, and we didn’t experience any hiccups with the most popular games, social and office apps.

On another positive note, the XA2 won’t get hot under pressure, won’t need to throttle the performance to prevent overheating, and will keep its cool for long periods of running at full speed.

A 23MP camera we all know

Sony Xperia XA2 just like the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Plus, comes equipped with a 23MP camera on its back. The camera sensor on the Xperia XA2 should be the same in-house IMX300 sensor, which sits behind a familiar a 24mm-equiv. f/2.0 aperture lens but this year, it’s gotten the complete set of features that the flagship Z5 series got back in the day such as 4K video recording, 120fps slow motion video, ISO 12,800 and hybrid auto focus with phase detection. So even though the camera looks to be same as on last year’s XA1, it should actually have another ace or two up its sleeve.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

Depending on whether you shoot in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, different portions of the sensor are used; you get either 22.8MP or 20.1MP images, respectively, and never the full 25MP. Hence the official 23MP designation. Among the benefits of having such a multi-aspect sensor are the similar field of view in both modes (measured diagonally), and higher-res 16:9 shots than what you’d get by cropping from a regular 23MP sensor which has a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Phase-detection autofocus, and a single LED flash complete the specs of the main camera.

Sony’s camera app has been polished over the years, but the Xperia XA2 doesn’t come with the latest version found on the XZ1 phones. This means if you want to shoot 4K video, you’ll have to find it in the extra camera modes drawer, instead of the video-recording tab where you’d expect it to be.

Superior Auto is the default mode and it will try to adjust image parameters to better match the scene by recognizing among some two dozen different scenarios. It can also engage HDR for you (Backlit scene it’s called), which isn’t available as a toggle in this mode – it’s only found in Manual mode.

Camera app - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewCamera app - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Camera app - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewCamera app - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Camera app

Other than HDR override, in Manual mode you get access to full range shutter speed selection (1/4000s – 1s), exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, and a manual focus slider.

The Xperia XA2 captures a great deal of fine detail in bright light. There is, inevitably, visible noise in areas of uniform color, but not as much to impact the quality.

Superior Auto does a good job of recognizing the scene and dials up the saturation in landscape scenarios to achieve pleasingly vivid output.

Dynamic range is decent too. There’s a hint of corner softness, but it’s inevitable with such a wide-angle lens and it’s in the extreme corners, so you shouldn’t worry.

Sony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2060s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2561s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/3057s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2962s - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Sony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/1415s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2154s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/1974s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 60, 1/50s - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Sony Xperia XA2 23MP camera samples

HDR mode can only be enabled manually in, um, Manual mode, but Superior Auto has you covered with Backlit scene mode, when it recognizes that it’s a difficult high-contrast scene. Manual HDR tends to produce super-saturated over-the-top images. For comparison, check out the shots below.

HDR off - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2154s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewHDR on - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/2154s - Sony Xperia XA2 review
HDR off • HDR on

The Xperia XA2’s camera handled the low-light scenes well. There is enough detail, though a lot of it was smudged in post processing by the noise reduction algorithm. While the night pictures are nothing impressive at 23MP, once downscaled at 5 or 8MP, they are quite nice.

Sony Xperia XA2 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1215, 1/16s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1540, 1/16s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 878, 1/16s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 23MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1784, 1/16s - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Sony Xperia XA2 23MP low-light samples

If you set the phone up on a tripod, the shutter speed in Superior Auto can go as low as 0.5s, at least in theory. You can slow it even further – to 1s – if you switch to Manual. We wish Sony allowed for longer shutter speeds (say, 30s) but long exposure shooting is a niche application for a phone camera anyway.

Here are two flagship-grade samples in quality shot at the slowest possible shutter speed of 1s. Oddly, those were saved in 8MP by the camera app perhaps in an effort to reduce noise.

Xperia XA2 low-light samples at 1s. shutter speed - f/2.0, ISO 93, 1/1s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewXperia XA2 low-light samples at 1s. shutter speed - f/2.0, ISO 102, 1/1s - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Xperia XA2 low-light samples at 1s. shutter speed

Finally, the panoramic shots the Xperia XA2 produces have a height of up to 3,500 pixels. Width is up to you, though, since you can stop the capturing process at any time. The resolved detail is average, and the samples are quite soft, but there are no stitching artifacts, unless you shoot moving objects.

Sony Xperia XA2 panorama samples - ISO 40, 1/1667s - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Sony Xperia XA2 panorama samples

You can put the Xperia XA2 against other phones in our Picture Compare Tool. We’ve preselected the Xperia XA1 and the Z5.

Photo Compare ToolPhoto Compare ToolPhoto Compare Tool
Sony Xperia XA2 vs. XA1 vs. Z5 in our photo compare tool

Selfies

The Sony Xperia XA2 comes with an 8MP, 1/4″ snapper with an impressively wide field of view. 120-degree, or a 11mm equivalent should be enough even for the most ambitious group shots. And in case that is a bit too broad to accommodate your regular selfie needs, there is also a toggle to bring it down to 80-degree (22mm equivalent). In comparison, last year’s XA1 had a 90-degree angle field-of-view on the selfie camera.

The selfie quality is subpar – there is below average detail, the photos are soft overall and the images look out of focus. We wonder why Sony decided to opt out of the autofocus for the XA2 in contrast of the older XA1 and bigger XA2 Ultra. Sometimes the soft skin effect smears fine detail to an extent where it makes the face look weird, so we’d generally suggest turning this option off.

Sony Xperia XA2 8MP normal selfies - f/2.4, ISO 44, 1/33s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 8MP normal selfies - f/2.4, ISO 75, 1/100s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 8MP normal selfies - f/2.4, ISO 47, 1/50s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 8MP normal selfies - f/2.4, ISO 79, 1/33s - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Sony Xperia XA2 8MP normal selfies

On a positive note, the wide shots are quite impressive because of how much they fit in the frame. We are sure quite a few selfie fans will appreciate this lens.

Sony Xperia XA2 8MP group selfies - f/2.4, ISO 45, 1/33s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 8MP group selfies - f/2.4, ISO 63, 1/100s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 8MP group selfies - f/2.4, ISO 45, 1/50s - Sony Xperia XA2 reviewSony Xperia XA2 8MP group selfies - f/2.4, ISO 92, 1/33s - Sony Xperia XA2 review
Sony Xperia XA2 8MP group selfies

Video recording

The Xperia XA2’s shooting modes include 4K with SteadyShot video stabilization and all the standards you would expect – 1080p/30fps and high-speed 1080p/60fps options. There is also a 120fps recording in 720p.

Shooting in 2160p/1080p at 30fps allows you to use the 3-axis Standard SteadyShot electronic stabilization. The feature reduces the field of view and does a good job stabilizing the image. While it’s not the best we’ve seen, it’s more than enough for the class.

4K clips are soft with average detail, but with great contrast, accurate colors, and decent dynamic range. The audio is captured at 96kbps and unfortunately, appears to be low in quality.

When shooting in 4K, the XA2 gives you a choice between H.264 or H.265 codecs. The latter has a smaller storage footprint, but pixel-peeping didn’t reveal any potential differences in quality between the two. So it’s a safe bet to opt for the newer and more efficient standard, especially now that YouTube supports it. When you are not uploading your videos to the cloud but are checking them out on the computer, be aware though that H.265 requires a more powerful PC for playback compared to H.264.

1080p videos are sharper, with lots of detail, good contrast and decent dynamic range as well. The framerate is smooth no matter if you opt for 30 or 60fps.

You can download short untouched samples as well – 4K (10s, 56MB), 1080p at 30fps (10s, 26MB), and 1080p at 60fps (12s, 44MB).

Below you have the Xperia XA2 in out video compare tool as well.

Video Compare ToolVideo Compare ToolVideo Compare Tool
2160p: Sony Xperia XA2 vs. Moto X4 vs. HTC U11 Life in our 4K video compare tool

The Competition

The Xperia XA2 brings quite a few upgrades over the XA1 to make it an attractive jump. There is a bigger and higher-res display, a larger battery, new processor, and an updated design – all of these at the expense of a slightly thicker body.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

The competition has a lot of attractive offers, too, so here is what you can get at the price of an Xperia XA2.

Samsung’s Galaxy A5 (2017) has a water-tight shell to brag with and a screen is of the same size and pixel count, but a Super AMOLED one. Its GPU isn’t as good, but the main camera has a brighter aperture, while the selfie snapper impresses with high-res images. There is no 4K video recording or Android Oreo on the A5, though.

The water-proof Moto X4 is a good match for the Xperia XA2. It has a similar screen, battery, and the same Snapdragon 630 chip. The X4’s highlight feature is the dual-camera on the back with bokeh effect and everything. The X4 is part of the Android One program, so it runs on Oreo and fast updates are sure to happen. The only thing the Xperia XA2 does better than the X4 is trimming those screen bezels.

HTC U11 Life is another member of Android One, with similar screen, chip, and two 16MP snappers – one at the front, and one on the back. It has a smaller battery but shines with a unique glass-like body.

Finally, the Nokia 7 is yet to hit the markets worldwide, but it has already made it to quite a few checklists. The 7 has similar screen, chip, and battery to the Xperia XA2, but relies on a different kind of camera experience – the rear 16MP snapper has a ZEISS lens, and it can capture “bothies” – a split screen visual for photos as well as videos that harnesses both front and rear cameras simultaneously. Nokia OZO audio is built-in for recording immersive sound too.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)Motorola Moto X4HTC U11 LifeNokia 7
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) • Motorola Moto X4 • HTC U11 Life • Nokia 7

The Verdict

The Sony Xperia XA2 is a proper upgrade to the XA1 in terms of hardware. The latest available Android OS surely adds up for the very positive impressions.

Sony Xperia XA2 review

Our only issue was with the selfie downgrade – the 8MP wide-angle camera has lost the autofocus and the brighter aperture compared to the XA1. And we would have appreciated at least some splash protection, as most of the competition is already going for a tight IP68 ingress protection.

Pros

  • Nice design, feels great in hand
  • Pretty bezel-less, contrasty and very bright screen
  • Superb battery life
  • Efficient chip with balanced performance
  • Very capable main camera
  • Android Oreo and lightweight Xperia topping

Cons

  • Disappointing selfie photos
  • Soft 4K videos
  • Not bundled with a QC 3.0 charger
  • Not so good audio quality through the jack

Just like the XA1, the Xperia XA2 has the DNA of a best-seller and could easily become the trendy smartphone of the season. Sony fans are going to love it, and it definitely deserves a recommendation.

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