The Sony Xperia XA2 runs Android 8.0. Sony’s custom interface sits on top of this, and it looks just as it does in other Xperias.
Like the hardware design, it’s quite grown-up and slick-looking. However, it’s actually quite different from most other recent Androids.
Your average new Android has a vertical-scrolling apps menu like a Google Pixel 2. The Sony Xperia XA2 has pages. You flick through them with right-to-left swipes. I’ve been using the phone for a couple of weeks at this point. I’m used to it.
However, switching back to the HTC U11+ just earlier today, I do prefer the vertical style at this point. There’s simply less gestures involved for the same result.
The interface comes with a bunch of pleasant wallpapers, and you can use themes to customise the Xperia XA2’s look further. As with other phone themes, the quality is hit and miss.
Sony has added more apps than some here, but the only ones you might call bloat are the Kobo ebook reader and AVG virus protection. The others are Sony’s classic media apps. And criticising them too much feels like telling a professional violinist that string instruments are a bit rubbish. Sony has used these as a defining part of its Android experience, well, forever.
You get a decent gallery app, a slick music player, a local video player and an app called Video & TV Sideview, which lets you play content stored on your home network. None of these are a reason to buy the Xperia XA2, but all are decent.
Sony Xperia XA2 — Performance
For the first week the Sony Xperia XA2 seemed very fast. In the last few days I’ve noticed the odd blip though. There’s the occasional pause switching between apps. Of course, some of this will be down to the apps themselves. The only pause I’ve found annoying is the camera app load time.
You want the camera to load up near-instantly so you can take spur of the moment shots. But the Xperia XA2 can take around three seconds to get you to the point of being able to hit the shutter button: not really good enough.
General performance of the Sony Xperia XA2 is good, though. Occasional blip aside, it’s responsive, smooth and apps are usually quick to load.
The phone has a Snapdragon 630 chipset, a newer version of the CPU used by the Moto G5S Plus. It has eight Cortex-A53 cores, nothing too special, but Qualcomm has put a fairly punchy Adreno 508 graphics chipset into this processor.
It’s nowhere near the performance of the top-end phones, but significantly outperforms many other phones in the sub-£300 range.
High-end games like Asphalt 8 run very well, with perceptibly better frame rates than most in the class. Well, if you pay close attention anyway.
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It makes me wish Sony had made the leap to an 18:9 screen with this phone, though. Games that use involved on-screen controls just feel (and look) better with a wider screen, because there’s just more room for your fingers.