Before examining the images, we should note that the sample unit we had was not running final software. In other words, the output from commercially available phones may differ from what we're getting at this stage of the Xperia X's development.
We got lucky with the weather and went for a stroll in a local park. Parks, you know, have a lot of foliage to capture so images there can test a camera's detail resolving powers. The Xperia X does rather well with that task and captures a lot of fine detail, combined with plenty of noise even in broad daylight. It's as if the engineers have decided not to do much in the way of noise suppression and instead leave the noise there along with the fine detail.
We had an iPhone 6s handy and shot a set of images for a quick comparison between the two. The Xperia has a wider field of view - the 24mm vs. 29mm difference in focal length leads to an obvious difference in the coverage.
Nevertheless, we set out to do a direct 100% crop of the images to evaluate the rendered detail at the pixel level. The results are below, and on each row, you have the following: original 12MP iPhone 6s shot, he original 23MP Xperia X shot, and a set of 1:1 crops from both the iPhone image and the original Xperia image.
The Xperia resolves a bit more detail on a pixel level, which is clearly visible in the thinnest of twigs, and tiniest of leaves on the row of images below. Then again, noise is abundant even in brightly lit areas - likely left there deliberately, so noise reduction wouldn't do away with detail. The noise pattern is not that nice to look at (same as on the Xperia Z5), but you would probably never attempt to pixel peep on your photos from so close in real life.
The Xperia has pleasing color rendition, but the Superior Auto mode handles colors differently from shot to shot, so the result is not always predictable. Our impression is that the entire Xperia lineup renders images with a cooler color balance with less saturation than the competition, and the Xperia X seems to follow suite.
The second comparison shows a similar result. The Xperia X outresolves the iPhone camera but comes with cooler hues. The iPhone has an advantage when it comes to dynamic range and it offers better detail preservation in both the highlights and the shadows.
We already mentioned the low-light advancements in the front facing camera on the previous page, but it's time to show you a sample photo taken in good light. The result is excellent and not even for a selfie camera. Sony's choice of a larger, higher-res sensor pays off and the shots taken with it could easily pass for ones captured by an excellent 13MP primary camera of a mid-ranger. We somehow even prefer the pixel-level processing by the front camera than that of the main one.
Video recording on the Xperia X is nothing special except perhaps for the excellent Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). The video recording tops out at 1080p, as unfortunately, there is no 4K video on this phone. The videos are recorded with a bitrate just shy of 18Mbps, which is pretty much the industry standard, and audio is captured in stereo with a variable bitrate averaging 150-something Kbps.
Resolved detail is good, though not exceptional. The best bit is Sony's EIS, which helps greatly in minimizing camera shake when shooting videos without a tripod. We got another positive first impression from the autofocus mechanism during video recording, which is reliable and fast, though not as fast as the one on the Samsung Galaxy S7.
As usual, we have a sample 1080p video for download.
The Sony Xperia X is a promising device, positioned high up in the midrange. It's got near-flagship-level hardware, and if you can live without 4K video recording, you can rely on it to cover all other bases.
We can't wait to get a final unit for proper testing and until then, we say Sayonara! to the Xperia X and Tokyo. We'll meet again soon!