Reviewed: Sony XA1 Plus

There’s no doubting Sony’s name. From mobile devices, home entertainment systems, to portable audio solutions, the Japanese electronics maker puts quality first, which is reflected in the design and performance of the products we enjoy today. The adoration for its Xperia line of smartphones is a testament to this. And so, when its mid-range XA1 Plus arrived in the office, we felt nothing but excitement. Here’s why.

Design: 4/5

Even from afar, the XA1 Plus’ design is distinguishably Sony. Boxy yet with softly rounded edges, it’s a phone that looks and feels premium. It has trademark thick bezels sandwiching the display; which might be a design that’s a miss for some, but a welcome characteristic to me. The XA1 Plus is clad in metal and carries buttons (including a dedicated shutter button) and other external features where you’d usually find them. Its fingerprint sensor/power button is an exception as it finds it place on the side, conveniently where your thumb would rest when holding your phone.

The XA1 Plus is a bit on the thick side, which I wish wasn’t the case. When doing your bedtime scrolling, you might want to clutch it tighter or put a ring holder on the rear as it falling on your face could prove fatal. This design is a boot for people gifted with large hands, though.

Hardware: 4.5/5

Hidden within its chunky build are features that put it right in the mid-range smartphone roadmap. It is powered by a 64-bit octa-core (quad-core 2.3 GHz + quad-core 1.6 GHz) MediaTek helio P20 processor, together with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. In use, the XA1 Plus performed how I expected: smooth running of tasks with minimal to zero delay. More complicated tasks, applications with heavy graphics, and the AR feature tied with the camera ran without a glitch or the device getting hot in hand. With this usage and performance, battery consumption also remained average even with mobile data on. It’s built-in Smart Cleaner might have played a role in this, as it automatically rids the phone of unnecessary data and processes. Sony has done it right with this one.

User Experience: 4.5/5

I got to bring the XA1 Plus on my trip to Bangkok, Thailand, and boy I’m sure glad
it’s the phone I had with me. Getting its main camera to flex was a pleasure. The 23 MP Exmor RS sensor captured images as how you’d see subjects with your eyes, crisp and bright. With its f/2.0 aperture, photos come out bright, even in low-light situations. On Superior Auto mode, it automatically adjusts to the setting needed to capture your subject with precision. Meanwhile, its Manual mode allows the shooter to really shine. I used it to capture the bright lights surrounding theMekong—sort of like Bangkok’s London Eye—and wasn’t disappointed. With just a few tweaks in the camera app, the night was truly black and the Mekong illuminated like a star in the sky. Filming videos was impeccable, as well. However, I couldn’t say the same with the 8 MP front cam. Images are cloudy when taken with indoor lighting. It does make up for this, though, when in bright areas such as taking photos on a stroll in the park on a sunny day.

Its 5.5-inch screen does justice to Sony’s long history of display making: images are vivid and the colors are punchy. The touch sensitivity lags a bit though, or it could be just me.

Value: 5/5

You can get your hands on the XA1 Plus for only PHP 16,990. Staying true to its name, it is a plus on various fronts, more so if you’re in the market for asmartphone with a great camera. Quality-wise, you can’t discount its Sony heritage and it shows.

Bottomline:

Make the XA1 Plus your permanent plus 1.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE February 2018 Issue.

Reviewed by Mia Carisse Barrientos

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