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Sony Xperia X review

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Sony Xperia X review
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Summary

Our Score:

6

Pros

  • Nice display
  • Impressive audio
  • Clean Android

Cons

  • Boring design
  • Unreliable camera
  • Awful button placment
  • Far too expensive
  • Some performance niggles

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Key Features

  • 5-inch 1080p display
  • 23-megapixel camera with hybrid autofocus
  • 13-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Snapdragon 650 or 820 processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • Android 6.0.1
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £459.99

What is the Sony Xperia X?

In a year of impressive phones, notably the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10, the Sony Xperia X is a disappointment. Despite the new name, the Sony Xperia X is more of the same from the Japanese brand.

It’s a mid-range phone with a price tag that matches the high-end LG G5 – a baffling misstep.

Sony Xperia X – Design

Sony is an iconic brand. Growing up, I was surrounded by tech products bearing the company's logo. Think the PlayStation 2, the VAIO line of laptops and, more recently, the RX100 range of cameras. Yet, in that time Sony hasn't quite managed to transfer the flair of the aforementioned products to its lineup of phones.

Watch: Sony Xperia X video review

Related: Best phones to buy this year

The Sony Xperia X looks just like the Xperia Z3+. And the Z3. And the Xperia M5. And pretty much every phone the company has released in the past five years.

It isn't an ugly phone by any means; it just lacks imagination. Both the front and back are flat, while the sides are slightly rounded with pronounced corners. It isn't particularly thin, but its fairly compact nature makes it easy to grip in one hand.

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One improvement over the previous Xperia Z handset is the rear, which isn't glass, but brushed aluminium. It has a slight texture, and is no longer a magnet for sticky fingerprints and oily residue.

Along the side of the phone sit an elongated lock button with an embedded fingerprint sensor, volume rocker and a dedicated camera button. I have a problem with each of these.

First, the fingerprint scanner is mushy, has barely any give and seems unreliable. There's no doubt that it's quick, but it often pops up with the message "Fingerprint hardware not available", and out of 20 attempts it failed seven times. Bizarrely, the volume switch is positioned towards the bottom, making it a pain to reach.

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I do like that Sony has stuck with its dedicated camera button, but like the others, it’s mushy and requires a lot of pressure to push. Another little annoyance in a phone where there are so many.

On the other side is a SIM-tray – no annoying SIM tool required – that holds both a nano-SIM and microSD card, but every time you open it, it automatically restarts the phone. I’d understand this if the phone supported Marshmallow’s adaptable storage feature, since you’re not supposed to take out the SD card when the phone is on – but it doesn’t.

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Sony’s phones have a history of being water-resistant, but the Xperia X isn’t. The isn’t a major omission, but the feature would have at least given the Xperia X something to make it stand out from the crowd.

Related: Best cheap phones to buy

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Sony Xperia X – Display

Sony made headlines last year when it unveiled the Sony Z5 Premium, the first phone with a 4K screen. People gushed and were in awe – just think of all those pixels. Then the realisation set in that the 4K was limited and that 99% of the time it was a plain-old 1080p panel.

While the same trick isn’t played here, a whole host of buzzwords and tech jargon has been used to describe the 1080p, 5-inch LCD panel in the Xperia X. It’s a "Triluminos Display for Mobile", with an "X-Reality engine" and "Dynamic Contrast Enhancement".

All you really need to know is that’s it’s a decent display. One of the better ones out there and definitely one of the brightest. It might not be quad-HD, but the 1,920 x 1,080 resolution is still fantastic when spread over a 5-inch display. The smaller screen means it isn't great for media, but pixels on photos and games are virtually impossible to spot.

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Blacks are deep, colours are accurate and viewing angles are fantastic. There’s no discolouration when you tilt the phone to the side, something I found very obvious on the HTC 10.

Since it’s an LCD panel, colours aren’t quite as vibrant as those on the OLED panels favoured by Samsung. But, realistically, unless you’re holding both phones next to each other, you're unlikely to notice the difference.

Sony's screen isn't entirely free of issues, though. Since the maximum brightness is so high, it becomes even more obvious when the auto-brightness doesn’t work. I’ve unlocked the phone in the pitch-black at night to find that it’s lit up the whole room; similarly, I've tried to use it in the bright sunshine and it’s unreadable.

Best Deals for Sony Xperia X

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iFrank

February 22, 2016, 2:17 pm

Is this it then? All the guessing, posting comments on our hopes & dreams, getting up at 7:00am on a Monday morning!

Please say there will be further announcements this week, you know, like every day with a debut.

Artur Krzywdzinski

February 22, 2016, 4:38 pm

do you guys know availability dates for both Sony models ?

toboev

June 2, 2016, 12:57 pm

"can hardly blame the company for this tact..."
What is a "tact"?

dgrantuk

June 2, 2016, 1:29 pm

I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last batch of Sony phones just because they're not the first brand on peoples lips when they think of a phone. There must be a profit roadmap at Sony that determines when they pull the plug and concentrate on other markets.

I've got an Xperia Z5 Premium and mainly bought it because it wasn't USB-C! It's a great phone, a bit expensive and it doesn't need a 23MP camera and a 4K screen. It lasts at least a day on battery and has NFC so should last a few years.

Most phones have to be wrapped in a rubber bumper so you can't revel at the tiny design tweaks, your phone ends up looking like any other, side by side. I'm surprised the buttons are not up to much on this Xperia X when they've been OK on other Sony models. Battery life is always going to be 1 day, it's a constant war between mAh and features.

Pretty soon we'll see phones as desktop replacements with 8GB RAM, 8 cores and 256GB SD storage. They're still going to look like black rectangles with buttons. Until they have flexible screens and are solar powered I think I'll bypass phone reviews...

fried_egg

June 4, 2016, 9:21 am

I don't think Sony's marketing team have any idea what they are doing. I have a Z5 (following on from a Z1, S & x10) and this is the first handset to go clearly backwards from the trend. I hope this is Sony replacing it's half yearly update with one (the Xperformance) for Asia who like the 6 month updates and for the rest of the world removing the Z2/Z3+ update from the schedule but having a mid tier update instead. I still expect the "true z6" equivalent at the German IFA show to be released... especially once they see the feed back from this effort. It can not be that hard to make last years phone run better, yet they have failed it seems. Something is wrong in Sony Mobile's management

themanwhocan

June 4, 2016, 10:05 pm

Sony has realised that their 'top' end phone isn't going to sell as many. So make the ones under it good enough. Those small group of buyers who want high end can go after the X Performance.

In Xperia X - really good screen, fluid, graphics work good and will give many "flagship" a run for their money due to their customisations. The model in the shop was a little warm so I can't work out if that is because it's being used all day or their is geniune thermal issue. I'm glad they have moved away from glass back.

I would like OEM's to stop going after ghz cpu cycles and ask themselves how can we squeeze even more performance out of 1.5ghz because battery technology isnt moving as fast as every other component. Anything after 2ghz is overheating or throttling just to keep pace.

fried_egg

June 5, 2016, 9:48 am

BMW have the "m" series as a halo that sells the rest of the range... Ford have halo cars & trucks to sell the range... Sony has not launched the Xperformance globally (so I still think a "Z6" is coming in the usual cycle slot at the IFA in sept).. Sony has pitched the X price far too high to be a "mid tier" competing phone.. In that price range you have 6 month old flagships that out perform it and cheaper brand new midtier phones that out perform it.....

worse sony were still selling the z3+ last month at heavy discount via outlets like qvc. so if you wanted the X why would you buy a phone that has features like the Z5, looks like the Z5 and pay more for less than you will be able to get a Z5 for. The price is completely wrong when the cpu is worse, the camera has a "tracking function" only more than the Z5 (which is getting very mixed reviews for it's usefulness at tracking)... The X is too expensive, the Z5 will still be on sale come xmas this year at 3/4 of the X price. Which would you buy?

fried_egg

June 10, 2016, 3:09 pm

who said anything about a new z series phone? although there is some debate on if senior sony people have redefined what was meant by concentrating on X going forward... but the "Z6" launch would have been in the usual z1/z3/z5 IFA germany slot... and the Xperformance is not coming to any uk network (although clove will sell an unlocked one) which leaves the Z5 as the flagship (it still beats the X) - and the X was announced in the same calendar slot as the Z3+ was (which was not liked by the networks as too close to the Z5 launch and largely not carried)... so... IFA september and the "Z5" replacement (ie what would have been the "Z6") sounds likely doesnt it?

John Rambo

June 11, 2016, 11:41 pm

Trusted Reviews gave Samsung S5(horrible Touchwiz, plastic) and LG G3 (bad Android skin, Lag, horrible battery life) a 9, and Sony Z3 (huge battery, premium quality, super fast Android skin, waterproof, Hi-Res Audio) an 8. That puts things into perspective

Alka Ahir

June 27, 2016, 1:47 pm

““Shifted Over”
The Oppo A37 is one of the best phone that I have ever seen. The camera of 8 megapixel lets me work like the 16 megapixel clarity. One of the best feature for me which is rarely found. Such a low price for the phone is not found anywhere. Such a superb featured phone is been provided by the Oppo team. Superb one.

Alka Ahir

June 29, 2016, 12:44 pm

“Something Just Trendy”
When you are searching for the best phone of the year there are many of them in your list and those ones are buzzing up in the mind. The problem with the other mobiles are that it suffers from lot hanging problem, or the battery fade away so fast. The best part of Oppo A37 is that the battery works for atleast 2 days with continuous usage of the phone. Such an awesome phone it is, with all the beautiful features.

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