Sony Xperia XA1 Plus is the middle brother of Xperia XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra and being the family member it shares many things with them. What distinguishes it from the rest is its bigger battery and better screen that is designed for pleasant entertainment experience all day long.
Sony recently made a comeback in the Pakistani handset market to gauge the long-developed association of people with this brand; not to forget the success of the Sony music phones in early days of mobile phones in Pakistan.
The good thing about Sony’s design strategy is that one can easily recognize its phone from far away and XA1 Plus is no different. It has the same conventional blocky design that we found in the budget device Xperia L1 and it too reflects in the high-end flagships. Here we have it again in our hands in this mid-range category.
Here is the brief video review;
From the very first look, you know it’s a Sony phone. You are getting a popular rectangular design of Sony that has been tweaked enough lately. Carefully rounded metallic sides are smooth but beefier as well; partially due to that reason that XA1 Plus carries a fingerprint scanner embedded on top of its power button on the right side.
It is a welcome addition that is absent in the other two family members. The right thumb can be your ideal digit to scan by this tiny scanner which is smartly placed. But, no way it can beat the effectiveness of the front scanner that we usually find beneath the display — a more convenient place to touch when lying on a flat surface. But unlike the front and back sensors on other phones, this one needs a slight push of power button for displaying the lock screen before it unlocks the phone making it an additional step for landing on home screen.
Also, you get a volume rocker above and a dedicated camera button below the power key. It was our usual accidental click on camera key for activating the app amid a gaming or movie session just because the key is placed where the index finger normally falls in the wide-screen view. To avoid the nuisance, the ‘Quick Launch’ feature responsible for this can be turned off from the camera app setting menu.
On the left, you can find the Sony style SIM tray for holding two Nano SIMs and the adjacent slot is for 256 micro SD card. Top and bottom are flat and house audio jack, USB-C port, and the speaker.
Flip over the phone and there you get minimal design that shows 23 MP camera and LED flash on the top left corner leaving the entire plastic back empty except for a Sony logo in the middle and an NFC icon a little above to confirm that antenna lives here.
It’s an age of bezel-less gadgets where screen-to-body ratios are increasing in every latest device, but with Sony XA1 Plus, we are talking about thin left and right bezels but the top and bottom bezels are unwantedly bigger. The top one occupies considerably more space and thus makes a 71.7% screen-to-body ratio. The outer frame holds a 5.5 inches Full HD IPS display, a very common standard for mid-rangers today to provide better viewing experience.
Sony is good with displays and Xperia XA1 also lives up to its reputation in terms of color contrast which can be made more vibrant from the display setting area where ‘Image enhancement’ and ‘Super-vivid mode’ can make videos and images more vibrant adding no extra flavor.
Other than videos and images, the screen of the Xperia XA1 is very much acceptable and produces some sharp contrasts.
If you are not comfortable with the default white balance on the display, it can also be optimized manually by changing red, blue and green from the display setting.
Side viewing angles don’t make things too bad either other than making the content less bright at extreme angles.
Software and Performance
Sony Xperia XA1 Plus comes with Android Nougat (7.0) with the company’s own minimal layer atop for keeping the exclusivity while remaining away from bloating user experience with too many unnecessary apps.
MediaTek processors are considered not at par with Qualcomm’s and it looks that the middle tier of Sony isn’t going to be equipped with the later, any time soon. However, the Helio P20 does a great job coupled with 4GB of RAM and a bunch of well-optimized apps that Sony thinks run better on this phone and which is really true.
It worked pretty decently during the calls sessions, the interface is very simple and useful. The voice of the other party was clear and crisp and so was the loudness of speaker. XA1 Plus has got some sensitive microphone that was able to capture a comparatively lower voice from a source as far as 10 feet away with much ease.
We felt no lagging while playing the games of likes AirStrike 2, Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8 but for heavier games, you might notice cracks in the wall. Having said that, benchmark numbers are decent enough that you can also see in the below image.
Sony knows to keep things cool under the hood and that is why the consistent software updates keep pouring in and Sony Assistant keeps an eye on everything. The Japanese maker has put nearly everything that can enhance the user’s experience.
Sony means entertainment, and the same can be witnessed while playing videos. There are ways to enhance the vibrancy of the colors and the 5.5-inch screen is a treat to look at. We expected a matching sound experience from the bottom speaker but despite every tweak this phone has inbuilt it produces some tinny sound; only the headphones are capable to amuse you.
The battery is what keeps you going no matter how feature rich your smartphone is and Sony distinguishes this member of the team with 3,420 mAh battery. Unexpectedly our testing unit took nearly 220 minutes to recharge from level zero which we want Sony to take care of as quick charging is what we wish in our phones.
As far as the real-life use is concerned, during our test period, it accompanied us the whole day. 20 minutes of gaming could drain 9% of the battery and for back-to-back video streaming on wifi, it lasted for 11 hours and 32 minutes. So other than the prolonged charging session, its life is very decent by any standard.
No phone can survive without a good camera today. Sony Xperia XA1 Plus comes with a 23MP rear shooter that can record up to 1080p videos and take some good photos under good lighting conditions. And the front 8 MP sensor lacks the companionship of flash so you need to be sure that low light selfies are questionable.
The camera interface is absolutely simple and nearly the same as the one we came across in Xperia L1.
We really liked the dedicated camera key on the right side and it is a more natural placement of index finger while taking photos. It gives you a feel of holding a digital camera in hands which locks the focus by half-pressing the key.
Day photos were decent and captured some nice colors but soon as you compromise on the light things get noisy and pictures start losing colors. There is a 5x zoom but that didn’t help and blew things away.