The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra is a very large mid-range phone. Catch a glimpse of handset such as this and you’ll almost automatically assume it’s expensive and high-end.
However, the XA2 Ultra costs only £379 – half the price of the top giant-screen phones. And this significant gulf in price means the device is found wanting in certain areas. Its camera doesn’t nail low-light photography; parts of the phone are made of plastic; it includes only 32GB storage, and the processor is just mid-range.
You do get a quite a lot of phone for your money, however.
The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra is a whopper. That’s the whole point of the Ultra line, but it may be too much for some.
It’s bigger than the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S9+. Where quite a lot of today’s ultra-high-end big-screen phones features 18:9 displays, the XA2 Ultra sports a traditional 16:9 shape screen. This results in a device that ends up wider relative to the screen inch count. Six-inch 16:9 phone displays are super-big.
Sony’s style is also less efficient with space than its rivals. There are big black expanses above and below the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra’s screen and the phone isn’t particularly slim at 9.5mm thick.
The phone looks and feels good. Just make sure you’re ready for its sheer size.
Since this is a mid-range phone, you don’t get quite the same build quality as Sony’s top-end Xperia XZ1 either. Its sides and the plates on its top and bottom are metal, but the rear of the device is plastic.
I don’t think this is a huge issue. With your fingers mostly touching the metal sides, the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra feels robust and expensive. In addition, you don’t have to worry about shattering a glass back, or scratches taking off a layer of paint on a rear aluminium panel.
Its contours are also smoother than some older Xperia handsets. The front glass curves right by its edges to meet the curved metal sides. There are no hard lips or borders.
The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra has a solid fingerprint scanner on its back, sitting centrally where your index finger naturally lands. And the phone uses a USB-C charge connector.
If the size isn’t a concern for you then the only disappointment is the lack of water-resistance. The SIM tray has no rubber seal.
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra – Screen
If you’re interested in the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra, it’s probably because of the screen. Six inches across, it’s a great display for watching Netflix or playing games.
Content made for TV instead of the cinema is perfect for this phone, since it will (mostly) use the same aspect ratio. This is one of the best phones at the price if you’re looking for a device for entertainment purposes on long train journeys.
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I’d happily opt for this model over the Xperia XA2, or a phone with a smaller, sharper screen for the purpose. For video streaming, the larger size is a real boon.
The XA2 Ultra’s screen doesn’t offer up anything special specs-wise, however. The display is an IPS LCD, with a 1080p resolution. At this size it would be possible to notice a slight difference between this resolution and QHD or 4K. Nevertheless, the XA2’s screen still looks sharp.
When you first turn on the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra, it looks a little undersaturated. Its default colour profile is relaxed, aiming for sRGB-style accuracy rather than eye-popping tones. This is unusual for Sony.
However, it only takes a trip to the Settings menu to add more energy. “Standard” mode increases saturation, but “Super-vivid” mode increases saturation further and boosts contrast to make colours look even more potent.
We do think the smaller Sony Xperia XA2 may offer slightly deeper saturation, but the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra has enough pep to keep most folk happy. In my opinion, “Super-vivid” is a bit too energetic for my taste.
The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra also offers up a loud speaker, further increasing its media credibility. This speaker isn’t stereo – there’s just a single driver on the bottom – but it’s significantly louder than the Xperia XA2’s.
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra – Software
The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra runs Android 8.0 and has a custom Sony interface on top. It’s the usual Sony package, which has a sharper look than most but doesn’t mirror the standard look and feel of Android as closely as some.
Its apps menu sees the biggest change. The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra has a paginated apps library rather than laying out icons on a horizontal scroll.
There are pros and cons to this style. Let the phone organise your apps and you’ll have to flick through a few pages to find what you’re after — unless you have a truly tiny apps collection, that is. However, you can also use folders.
Keep your Xperia XA2 Ultra in check and there’s no reason to go beyond the first apps page most of the time. There’s also an option to arrange your apps from “most used” to least, letting you combine convenience and laziness. As long as you tend to stick with the same handful of apps, anyway.
The interface lets you make some minor scaling changes to capitalise on the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra’s large display, packing more info on-screen. If your close-up vision isn’t too good, you can also enlarge elements, turning this into a “large print” style mobile.