Hey guys, reviewing 2 different devices at one time took a little longer than expected. But now it’s done, I have a pretty good feel of how the Sony Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra are like.
Design wise, it looks a lot better than the predecessor, the XA1. The lines are more angular and conforms to the body of the phone. It definitely feels heavier and more sturdy especially with the larger XA2 Ultra. Both phones look pretty identical with the exception of the microphone hole at the top. The back is made of plastic but the overall finish has a smooth texture that is pretty uniform throughout.
If you ever used a Sony smartphone before, the design shouldn’t be new to you. The rectangular design and familiar power button at the side gets pretty boring. But small details like the profound chamfered edges and curved back, makes the design stand out a little. As for the front, the bezels at the top and bottom are still huge in my opinion but I can barely see any at the sides. Looks really nice but somehow the display can be triggered by my palm on the XA2 Ultra.
As for ergonomics, both fingerprint sensors are placed where the finger will reach naturally and power and volume buttons can be reached easily, even on the XA2 Ultra. It’s going to be hard using one handed on the XA2 Ultra but both phones do have one handed mode if you need. For those that don’t use a case, keep in mind the camera bezel protrudes a little.
In terms of display size, the Xperia XA2 Ultra is 6 inches and the XA2 is 5.2 inches, both having IPS LCD with 1920 x 1080 resolution. As for sharpness, even though the XA2 has a higher PPI, it’s really hard to tell the difference during normal usage. IPS displays are quite good for their viewing angles as well.
Colors are vibrant and pretty saturated and like most smartphones, there is an option to adjust the color gamut, contrast and white balance to your liking. One thing I noticed is that the display on the XA2 has a blue tint compared to the XA2 Ultra which is on the yellow side. Photos do have a slight difference in color and it’s pretty obvious with white backgrounds.
There is a LED light on both models, next to the front facing camera. I don’t see any option for changing colors so you’re stuck with the default ones . The speaker at the bottom looks pretty modest, but trust me, it gets really loud at the maximum. You’ll be happy to know there is a headphone jack and audio settings like ClearAudio+ and Equalizer.
The Xperia XA2 comes in 32GB storage and 3GB of RAM and the Xperia XA2 Ultra comes in 32GB/64GB storage and 4GB RAM. Both support micro SD up to 256GB, dedicated slot on the XA2 Ultra and a shared slot on the XA2. As for the SIM tray on the XA2, the design feels more cumbersome to use. And also, there is no adoptable storage but USB OTG is supported. In the storage settings, you can easily transfer data to SD card as well. As for dual SIM, there is a menu for changing preferred network for either card but only 1 SIM can be 4G at any one time. You can also choose different ringtones for individual card. Other basic information are Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n and NFC.
Both are powered by a mid range Snapdragon 630 and Adreno 508. It’s the successor to the Snapdragon 625 series but most people shouldn’t experience any major difference, at least for me. Benchmarks are okay but from real life experience, both phones performed pretty fine. Apps load fast and multitasking was good as well. Doing some speed tests, I find that the XA2 Ultra loads a little faster most of the time. The UI is responsive but it does lag and stutter rarely, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
As for gaming, the XA2 Ultra loads faster than the XA2, but both handled games pretty well. I didn’t notice any lags in game but it does get a little warm when playing for longer durations. Phone calls works as normal, reception bars are usually max most of the time except in subways or indoors. Speedtest on WiFi and 4G were pretty good too.
It’s using Android 8.0 with their own Xperia UI on top and it’s pretty similar to the rest of their Sony phones. It does retain some stock Android look and feel but still showcasing Sony’s features.
Spilt Window can be accessed by tap and holding the recent button while in an app. It’s pretty useful especially for the XA2 Ultra. Swipe left on the home screen to access Google Now or you can simply hold on to the Home button.
Swiping down reveals the shade and you can rearrange icons or add others to the list. The Home Screen can be customized by adding widgets, changing grid sizes and getting new Themes. Tap and hold on the app icon to reveal more options right at the home screen. Search for apps by swiping down on the Home Screen and also get recommendations based on location.
Assistant helps you get started on your new Xperia phone with some shortcuts to functions. Other useful features are Do Not Disturb, Screen Pinning and Smart Lock.
Comparing the physical sizes, you would think that the XA2 Ultra should have a larger battery. But it’s only 280mAh more. 3300mAh on the XA2 and 3580mAh on the XA2 Ultra. It’s a huge bump from the XA1 and battery life was pretty good.
For my usage, both phones performed nearly the same. Unplugged at 730am and its back to the charger at around 10pm. XA2 would have around 25% to 45% and XA2 Ultra around 30% – 45% battery left which is pretty good. Screen on time varies around 5 hours with usage like calls, messaging, Youtube, web surfing and some gaming. Depending on individual usage, both phones should last a full day with ease.
Charging with the supplied charger however, is really slow. It took around 2 hrs and 30 mins to charge the XA2 and close to 3 hours to fully charge the XA2 Ultra. For heavy users, there is the Stamina and Ultra Stamina mode to extend your battery life. You can also select apps that you do not wish to apply the Stamina mode. There is also battery care that learns your habits and tries to charge the remaining 10% over a longer time to increase lifespan.
Both have a 23MP back camera and a 8MP front camera for the XA2 and dual 16MP + 8MP front camera for the XA2 Ultra. The secondary camera is mainly for wide angle shots for selfies. There are also functions like Creative Effect, Panorama and Timeshift Burst.
Manual and Auto focus in daylight is fast while in low light it appears to be slower to focus. As for macro shots, it’s a little difficult to get really close range shots, distance is about 25-30cm between the camera and object.
In photos with lots of white, the XA2 tends to have more shades of blue and the XA2 Ultra to the green side. Other than that, pictures are pretty similar in both phones, pretty sharp. As for night shots, the whites tend to differ as well but some noise can be seen. As for Manual mode, you can change the settings like ISO, Shutter speed and both have the same values.
There isn’t any OIS on the back camera but you can turn on SteadyShot. It’s not as good as OIS but still does the job quite well. You can record up to 1080p in the settings and there is a dedicated 4K recording button on the menu. It does get really warm recording in 4K.
For the front camera, both phones have group selfie that works pretty okay. Photos look better with sufficient light and the soft skin effect does maybe help a little. As for the OIS on the XA2 Ultra, it does make the video steady. But if you are a heavy walker, there might be some bounce in the video.
Overall I find it’s better than the previous XA1. The XA2 has improvements like battery life and display resolution but I still feel it’s a little pricey at SGD$448 for the Xperia XA2 and SGD$598 for the Xperia XA2 Ultra. I find that the display on the XA2 Ultra is more sensitive and issues like minor lags can be fixed in future updates. Other than that, both the XA2 and XA2 Ultra are pretty good and worth to take a look at.