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Sony Xperia XA1 Unboxing, Quick Review: More RAM, More Megapixels

Is it still a mid-ranged beauty?

A year ago, Sony nixed the Xperia Z lineup of phones at Mobile World Congress 2016 and unveiled the X-series of phones that would cater to the mid-ranged market. One of the phones that they announced in February 2016 and later released in June, was the Sony Xperia XA; a phone that had the design cues from previous smartphones from the Japanese brand, with one distinctive difference: narrow dimensions that nearly eliminates the side bezels its display. As beautiful as the Xperia XA was, we were a little disappointed with its performance. This year, Sony announced its successor in Barcelona and the phone has finally made its way to HQ for a quick once over.

Sony Xperia XA1 Specifications

  • 2.3GHz MediaTek MT6757 or Helio P20 octa-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • Mali-T880 MP2 GPU
  • 5-inch HD IPS LCD display; 1280×720 resolution, 294 ppi
  • 32GB of expandable storage (up to 256GB)
  • 23-megapixel rear camera, f/2.0, PDAF, LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front camera, f/2.0, Autofocus
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC
  • USB Type-C
  • 2300mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat

Packaging and Contents

Sony has chosen a very minimalistic approach in terms of their packaging. The Sony Xperia XA1 comes in a clean, white cardboard box with its name and a few of its key specifications on its back. Open it up and you pretty much get the basics as well. You, of course, get the unit itself with its USB Type-C cable, wall charger, and a bit of documentation.

Familiar Dimensions, Upgraded Internals

There’s no doubt that the Sony Xperia XA caught our eye when we first saw it at the floor at MWC 2016, and again with at the phone’s local launch. There was really something about its narrow dimensions and the almost non-existent side bezels that really intrigued us; not to mention that Sony had rounded its corners a little bit, which was a little off from what we were used to seeing from the Japanese brand. Fast-forward to 2017 and we still think that the Xperia XA1 is a looker; though the wow factor has certainly diminished thanks to some phones that have nearly gotten rid of bezels altogether and other devices that have been given a narrower profile as well.

Sony has also gone back to its usual playbook in terms of design. Gone are the rounded corners from the original XA, and in its stead is the familiar rectangular form factor that most (if not, all) of their phones posses. Thankfully, they haven’t been known to scrimp on materials and with the XA1 you’re getting an aluminum frame with a matte finish on its back.

Like the XA, most of the buttons on the XA1 are found on the right side of the device. There you’ll find its power button, volume rocker, and a dedicated camera button. No fingerprint scanner here, just good old PINs, patterns, and passwords to unlock your device.

The left side is where you’ll find the SIM tray and microSD expansion bay. We’ve always appreciated that Sony has chosen to forego the need to use on a SIM ejector tool, because you’ve got people like me who misplace those like crazy and are left to use safety pins instead.

You’ve got the 3.5mm audio jack on top of the device, with the USB Type-C port and speaker grille on the bottom of the XA1.

While the sides of the Xperia XA1 are narrow, the phone is noticeably taller than most phones sporting a 5-inch display and its a hair taller than its predecessor as well; all thanks to its thick top and bottom bezels. The display is only at 720p; reducing strain on the processing package of the XA1 and less power draw from its 2300mAh battery.

Speaking of its processing package, the XA1 has gotten a much needed upgrade. Running the show is a 2.3GHz MediaTek Helio P20, which has been paired of with 3GB of RAM (up from 2GB compared to last year’s model), a Mali-T880 MP2 GPU, and 32GB of expandable storage. The Xperia XA1 runs on Anroid 7.0 Nougat out of the box and initial navigation of the device was smooth with little to no delay when launching apps. We also got in a quick game of Asphalt 8, which ran smoothly after tiny tweaks to its settings. The Xperia XA1 also managed a score of 60626 on Antutu Benchmark. The unit sent to us was an engineering unit of the Xperia XA1, so the actual retail unit may perform even better.

The Xperia XA1 also got a significant bump up in the megapixel count of its main shooter and now sits 23-megapixels compared to last year’s 13-megapixels. We’re guessing this is the same setup that was in the Xperia XZ that has the IMX300 sensor with a few trimmings cut out, such as: RGBC-IR color sensing system and laser autofocus. For the front camera, it looks like we’ve got the same 8-megapixel selfie shooter from last year.

That’s pretty much it for this unboxing and quick review for the Xperia XA1. Sony Philippines should be sending us a retail unit soon, so do check back for its full review. The Sony Xperia XA1 is priced at Php 14,990.


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Jamie Inocian

A self-confessed geek. Jamie started out helping out on the Unbox Podcast and became the Digital Sales Manager when he joined the team full time. He has since then transitioned into one of our Senior Editors and Head Video Producer.

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