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LACKLUSTRE APPEAL: There's little in the Xperia X that really stands out - from its built-in camera, to its Snapdragon 650 processor to its NFC chip.

Sony misses the big picture

The Xperia X may be a souped-up iteration of older Sony phones but the new features pale in comparison to the big brands.
Sep 3, 2016 5:50 AM

Sony Xperia X

AS the latest Sony Xperia phone to hit the market, the Xperia X is stuck between several rocks and hard places.

The S$848 price point places it among the premium range of device offerings, but its hardware says otherwise.

The Snapdragon 650 processor is a leading one, but it is not the best one available on the market. Meanwhile, features such as a full high-definition screen and phase detection autofocus for its camera can even be found on some mid-range devices, so there is little here that really stands out.

Yes, Sony has continued to place its 23MP camera module on this device, to trump competitors such as Apple, Samsung and LG, who offer something lower for their cameras in terms of megapixel. But these days, smartphone users know better than to allow mere megapixel count to sway their buying decision.

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The use of software, along with sensor and aperture size play a large role in the quality of pictures taken, and while there are improvements here compared to previous Xperia phones, they do not hold up well against what the competition currently offers.

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Sony is that despite the high megapixel count, its camera performance is sluggish. While the 23MP here comes with a more robust software, there is still a slight delay with the camera shutter. Compare this to the near instantaneous shots that can be taken with Apple, Samsung and LG phones, and it is obvious that Sony has improved compared to its own phones, but not the competition.

Image quality also shows a higher level of grain, along with jagged edges on objects. So what consumers have is a decent smartphone that maintains many features found in Sony's previous Xperia line of devices, but lacks anything new that would make users give it a second look.

The Xperia X continues with the box-like design of the Xperia series, with flat edges and rounded corners. There is a camera shutter button on the right edge of the device, next to the Power and volume buttons. This gives a user quicker access to the camera features, but pressing a physical button tends to rock the phone slightly, which can affect the photo taken. On the left is the SIM card tray, which can be removed with a slight tug with your fingernail. The Power button doubles as the fingerprint sensor, but its unique position on the edge means that single-handed users are left with using either their right thumb or left forefinger for biometrics.

Another weird placement is with the NFC chip. Instead of placing it in the rear of the device, it is located on the left hand top corner on the front. Transferring files via NFC requires users to place the sender's phone on this one, which blocks the screen here.

And if you are using Android Pay, you are now made to place the phone with the screen facing the card reader, to enable a transaction. You will not be able to look at the screen for any pop-up messages, or even see if the payment has gone through.

Another slight change in a key Xperia function is with the waterproof/resistant feature. Previous models, such as the Xperia Z3, were touted as being waterproof, but now, Sony has dialled back on this and the Xperia X is only water-resistant, so do not dunk it in the pool.

In the end, the Xperia X is not the type of phone that will draw buyers into the shop. The lack of key features or notable functions means it will only be regarded for its Sony branding, but not much else.


Sony Xperia X

Price S$848

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 64-bit Hexa-core (4 x 1.4 GHz and 2 x 1.8 GHz)

Display 5-inch Full High Definition, 1,080 x 1,920 pixels (441 pixel density)

Camera (Rear) 23MP, f/2.0, 24mm, phase detection autofocus, LED flash, (Front) 13 MP, f/2.0, 22mm

Operating System Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)

Memory 64 GB (expandable microSD up to 200GB), 3 GB RAM

Battery Life Non-removable 2,620 mAh