The Sony Xperia XA1 is a sequel to the popular mid-ranger, though Sony has upgraded it to "super mid-ranger" status. We think most of that comes from the camera - the 23MP camera based on a huge 1/2.3" Exmor RS sensor with SteadyShot support!
Seriously, that's Xperia X level stuff. It would have been XZ-level if it could record 4K 2160p video, but it cannot (Sony still has to leave room on the market for its flagships, after all). The XA1 camera can launch in 0.6s and get accurate focus thanks to Hybrid AF.
The camera lens has an f/2.0 aperture and it captures a wide-angle view (24mm in 35 mm equivalent), those are essentially the same readings as the XZ camera, though we don't know yet if the camera uses the same sensor or not.
Like the XZs, the Xperia XA1 reuses the selfie camera from its predecessor. It's a solid camera, though, so no complaints from us - the 8MP 1/4" sensor sits behind an f/2.0 lens (23mm) and boasts autofocus (even some flagships lack AF, which we think is unforgivable).
Sony also upgraded the chipset, going from a P10 to a MediaTek Helio P20. That one still uses an octa-core Cortex-A53 processor, but at higher clock speeds. You get more RAM - 3GB - and the storage doubled to 32GB (there's a microSD card on the side).
If you were hoping that the 2017 model will sport a fingerprint button, you would be disappointed.
Speaking of missed upgrade opportunities, the Xperia XA1 maintains the 5" 720p screen of the original. With the right price (that's TBA), it could be a mighty competitor in the entry-level segment, though we do wish that awesome camera was paired with a better chipset.
The XA1 also comes with fast charging - MediaTek's version of it, Pump Express+ 2.0 - along with Qnovo adaptive charging (so that the battery will live through more charge cycles than normal batteries).
Speaking of, the battery capacity remains at 2,300mAh.
The Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra is the mid-range phablet of the X family. Sorry, the super mid-ranger. Upgrades to the 6" giant feel more limited than the changes to its smaller sibling.
Yes, Sony used the same awesome 23MP camera as on the XA1. But the original XA Ultra already had a pretty solid 21.5MP 1/2.4" sensor. The selfie camera remains the same - Sony did not upgrade any selfie cams for the MWC.
That's still one of the best camera to snap a self portrait, though. It features a large 16MP 1/2.6" sensor backed by optical image stabilization, something very few phones have. Both this and the main camera record 1080p video.
We're pretty mad that Sony did nothing to up the battery capacity. 2,700mAh wasn't enough for a 6" screen last year and it's not enough this year. Yes, maybe the new Helio P20 chipset running Android Nougat will do better, but we expect great battery life out of phablets.
The Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra is not a small phone - it weighs a shade under 190g - so there's no excuse for the battery. It is interesting to note that the 6" Ultra weighs less than the 5.5" XZ Premium, though.
At least Sony did add USB-C to the XA1 Ultra (keeping the Pump Express+ 2.0 and Qnovo charging assistants). That's still a "no" on the fingerprint reader.
We come away from this encounter excited by what the Sony Xperia XZ Premium has to offer, though a little disappointed that we'll have to wait to get it. Sure, the Xperia XZs will give us a taste of the cool Motion Eye camera earlier than that and we think the rest of the phone (which was not updated) will hold up against early 2017 flagships.
The small Xperia XA1 will likely become the camera king in the entry level segment. We just hope Sony is reasonable about the price (the company didn't reveal pricing about any of the four phones). The big Xperia XA1 Ultra is probably the smallest update here and we couldn't muster much excitement for it - we love the XA Ultra and we're not sold that this one is a must-have upgrade.
Sony is best known for its consumer products, but this year the company took a page out of Samsung's book and built a phone on the strength of great components. The 4K HDR screen and memory-packing camera sensor are the kind of innovation we want when looking at a Sony gadget.