Sony Xperia X review

In an unusual move that surprised us all, Sony decided not to launch the Sony Xperia Z5 Tablet we were expecting at MWC 2016, but instead added a brand-new smartphone range to the mix. The new Xperia X series offers specs that sit just below the flagship Z range, plus some interesting new features for the camera and screen. We've spent some time with the Sony Xperia X, so here we bring you our full and in-depth Sony Xperia X review.

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It's unclear at the moment but it's possible that the Xperia X range is in fact a replacement for the Z range. There may never be an Xperia Z6 smartphone but we hope there is as changing the flagship range from Z to X is unnecessarily confusing.

Sony Xperia X review: Price, availability and rivals

The Xperia X is available to buy now both from Sony and also from networks including EE, O2 and more. It comes with a SIM-free price tag of £459 (you can buy it here), which is a pretty high price for a phone with mid-range specs.

For comparison, Sony's Xperia Z5 flagship phone from 2015 was £549, while the Compact model had a lower price tag of £429 despite its great specs. This is partly why it's thought the range might replace the Z line-up.

And when we take a look at competitors, you'll find that there are phones available at around the same price as the Xperia X but with better specs, including Huawei's brilliant P9, which is actually a bit cheaper at £449.

The X does have some big selling points, though, including its brilliant camera and battery life as well as its design, so it's a shame that its price tag stops us from being able to rate this phone highly on value. We expect that the price will drop over the coming months, though, so keep an eye out for a good Xperia X deal. Read on to find out more.

Sony Xperia X review: Design and build

The Xperia X has a 5in screen surrounded by dinky bezels, resulting in a sleek and stylish design that we were instantly attracted to. The X doesn't have the edge-to-edge screen of the Xperia XA, but it's not far off and we think it looks great.

It's 7.9mm thick and feels gorgeous to hold, with slightly curved glass that blends silkily into the curved edges of its body, taking a slight departure from the blocky nature of Sony's previous Xperia phones. It's wonderfully light, too, at 153g.

Colour options include a really unattractive Lime Gold, a reasonably nice Rose Gold and really good-looking White and Graphite Black models, all of which have a slight shimmer to them. They also come with optional matching cases and covers.

We love the dedicated camera shutter button we've come to expect from Sony phones,

Our only caveats with the design are that the screen is prone to picking up fingerprints and the body isn't seamless so little crumbs and bits of fluff can become stuck where the back cover and edges of the phone meet.

Also, the SIM tray is combined with the Micro-SD card slot and is a bit fiddly to remove and reinsert, but you're unlikely to need to do this often so it's not a deal breaker.

Sony Xperia X review: Hardware, specs and performance

Taking a closer look at that 5in display, you'll find that it's a crisp, clear and colourful Full 1080p HD. The size is actually smaller than most phones these days, many of which are around the 5.5in mark so the Xperia X will suit those wanting something a little easier to handle and pocket.

The processor inside the Xperia X is mid-range, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 taking centre stage with 3GB RAM as its sidekick. In our benchmark tests that duo managed to achieve a Geekbench 3 multi-core score of 3746, which puts it in line with competitors like the Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 (which is available at more than £100 less than the £459 price tag of the X). Competitors within the same price range typically score much higher in these performance tests than the X did, with the Huawei P9 impressing us with a score of 6506 in the Geekbench test, for example.

When it comes to graphics, the Xperia X scored a good 35 frames per second in the GFX T-Rex test, which is almost the same as the P9's 36fps and much higher than the Galaxy A5's 14fps.

In the more difficult Manhattan test, the Xperia X managed 17fps, which is just a bit lower than the 19fps achieved by the P9 and much higher than the A5's 5fps.

In practice, those scores mean that the Xperia X is speedy enough to perform most tasks without any major lag, but we did find that it struggled with switching between camera modes sometimes, for example.

Most apps should run well, but particularly graphics-heavy apps may struggle and if you plan on multitasking with lots of apps open at once, expect the phone to become quite sluggish.

Talking of the camera, you'll find that it is 23Mp on the rear and 13Mp on the front, which Sony touts as one of its standout features and we can't help but agree.

The rear camera has a Predictive Hybrid Autofocus feature, which sounds amazing in principle but in practice doesn't always work very well.

Essentially, the Predictive Hybrid Autofocus feature lets you open the camera app, tap a moving object that you want to take a photo of and wait until you want to snap the picture. It's designed to predict where the object is going to go and make sure it is the point of focus when you press the shutter button, but when we tried it the focus was never quite right. Plus, the design of the phone and the positioning of the button that switches to the front-facing camera meant we kept tapping it, and we've witnessed others suffering from the same surprise when their face unexpectedly appeared on screen.

You'll also find quick launch, auto-focus and HDR, as well as an ISO of up to 12800 for low light photography, 1080p video recording, video stabilisation and more. In short, it's a mighty good camera for a smartphone but at this price we'd expect things like optical image stabilisation and 4K video recording.

Below are some photographs taken using the Sony Xperia X.

There's 32GB of built-in storage as standard, and it accepts up to 200GB additional storage via Micro-SD card.

Additional features include a fingerprint sensor on the side of the phone, like the Z5 range, designed to make unlocking the phone seamless and secure. We found the positioning of the sensor (on the right side of the phone built-in to the the lock button) perfect for quickly unlocking the phone without having to even think about it. Things might be a little trickier for left-handed users, though.

As for battery life, you'll find that you'll only need to charge once every two nights at most, which is much better than you'll find from many flagship smartphones in 2016. In our battery tests, for which we use the Geekbench test, the Xperia X lasted 9.25 hours, with a score of 5649. That's really impressive, and beats the flagships like the Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5.

Sony Xperia X review: Software and apps

The Sony Xperia X is running the latest version of Android – Android 6.0.1. It's not far off stock Android, with the familiar app drawer, notifications and multitasking.

Additional features exclusive to Sony include a What's New panel viewable when you swipe right from the home screen, with recommendations about new apps, movies, music and more that are updated daily. There's also Xperia Lounge and extra features for PlayStation users.

Sony Xperia X: Specs

  • 5in Full HD curved display (1080x1920) Android 6.0 Marshmallow Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor 3GB RAM 32GB storage MicroSD card slot (up to 200GB) 23Mp rear camera with Predictive Hybrid Auto Focus, 1080p video recording 13Mp front camera, 1080p video recording Bluetooth 4.2 GPS NFC Fingerprint scanner Cat 6 4G LTE MicroUSB 2620 mAh battery 142x69x7.9mm 153g
  • 5in Full HD curved display (1080x1920) Android 6.0 Marshmallow Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor 3GB RAM 32GB storage MicroSD card slot (up to 200GB) 23Mp rear camera with Predictive Hybrid Auto Focus, 1080p video recording 13Mp front camera, 1080p video recording Bluetooth 4.2 GPS NFC Fingerprint scanner Cat 6 4G LTE MicroUSB 2620 mAh battery 142x69x7.9mm 153g

OUR VERDICT

We wish we could rate the Sony Xperia X more highly than we have. It has a stunning design with a screen size ideal for those who prefer the smaller end of the spectrum. The 5in screen is the sweet-spot for us here. It also offers a great battery life, a brilliant camera and performance that should satisfy the majority of users.

But with a price tag of more than £450, this phone is overpriced. When you compare it with the competition both in terms of price and specs, you can get a lot better value for money elsewhere which makes the Xperia X hard to recommend, even if money is no object.

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