The Xperia X Performance arrives in what appears to be a plain white box with the logo printed on top. The colors are on the inside though, a pleasant surprise for the unsuspecting buyer.
Our review unit came with just a USB cable and a charger, a basic 5V/1.5A unit. We were told that our package contents aren't representative of the market bundle, and indeed there's room in the box for headphones too. Whether the Sony UCH10 Quick Charger will be included is a region-dependent decision as well and may even differ from supplier to supplier so make sure you reasearch what you'll find in your particular box.
The Sony Xperia X Performance measures 143.7 x 70.4 x 8.7mm, which is about a millimeter more in each direction than the Xperia X's dimensions. There aren't many 5-inch flagships left, but the Samsung Galaxy S7, for example, manages to fit its marginally larger 5.1-inch display in an overall smaller package.
It's on the heavy side too, the X Performance, tipping the scales at 165g. The comparison to the Samsung top-model is again not in Sony's favor - the S7 is 13g lighter, while packing a 3,000mAh battery as opposed to the 2,700mAh that powers the Performance.
Have an Xperia X and an Xperia X Performance side by side, and there's hardly a person outside of Sony's design department that will be able to tell their fronts apart. The Xperia X Performance is a millimeter larger in every direction but try spotting that in real life. The difference however is easily felt when you hold both models in your hands - the X Performance is thicker and heavier even though both phones have the same screen diagonal.
The resemblance to the flagship model is surely a bonus point for the Xperia X but we're not quite sure it works the other way around too.
To be fair here, we'll only mention that only the X Performance has the more premium brushed metal finish on the back on the gray and silver models.
Sony has always had a particular liking for the simplicity of the rectangle, corners ever so slightly rounded. The Xperia X Performance favors subtlety in design, but adds a premium touch with a curved 2.5D display glass that is a joy to swipe away at. It's scratch-resistant too, though Sony doesn't seem too keen on working with Corning, and it's not Gorilla Glass-branded.
The smartphone is clearly a descendant of the original Xperia Z, a design refined and polished over generations.
That said, it looks like it's the Xperia Z3 that the X Performance seems to share most of its genes with - but that may be just us.
The similarity is most obvious in the two slits above and below the display, which house the stereo speakers. The top one also integrates the status LED, keeping it from spoiling the relatively clean top bezel.
As we already stated, it's the back where the Xperia X Performance differs from the vanilla Xperia X. The panels on the Graphite Black and White options have a brushed finish, while the Rose Gold and Lime Gold variants get a finer satin surface. Regardless of color and finish, the panels are all made of metal.
The White model is our top pick, the black one being a touch too generic, and the two shades of gold...well, let's say we're obviously not the right demographic for those colors.
When we say 'White', it means only the front, the rear is more like what you could call 'Silver' or 'Stainless steel' - if you're willing to excuse your color-vocabulary-challenged writer.
The camera is in its usual position in the top left corner, the single LED flash below it. There's a ring around the lens to serve more as a design element, rather than protection.
In an odd turn of events, the frame on the Xperia X Performance, like on the Xperia X, is made of polycarbonate, contrary to what you may have assumed considering the market segments these two smartphones occupy. There's likely a reason for that, be it radio signal reception, assembly considerations, durability or otherwise.
There's plenty of stuff going on all around the frame. The right side is the busiest, holding all of the controls. The Power button/Fingerprint reader is the centerpiece, by significance and location alike.
The reader is fast and accurate, but it may not be equally comfortable to use with either hand. Whether you're a leftie, of just prefer to use your smartphone with the left hand, unlocking with the left forefinger doesn't feel as natural as with the right thumb.
The other less than ideal bit about the Xperia X Performance's control layout is the low position of the volume rocker. Using it requires a major readjustment of your grip, which makes for a potential dropping hazard.
The hardware two-step camera shutter release button is a rarity outside of the Sony lineup. Here, it has the added benefit of launching the camera and taking a shot in as little as 0.6s. Sony claims this is way faster than even the Xperia Z5 camera.
One thing we don't quite like about this concept is that when taking a picture before the screen is even on means framing is almost always bad.
On the left side is the card tray that now gets pulled out together with the flap, which has rubber lining to ensure no water or dust enter the phone. Sony phones don't like having their SIM cards taken out without warning and restart immediately once you take out the tray. Then once again, when you insert it back in. And with the tray shared between SIM and microSD cards, the same will happen if you want to replace the microSD card.
We have got to note that on the Dual SIM model of the Xperia X Performance - the slot is actually of the Hybdird type that allows a combination of either two SIM cards or a SIM card and a microSD card. This solution has been getting quite popular lately on phones by other brands but this is perhaps the first time we see Sony utilize it as well.
At the top, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack and a secondary mic pinhole. A standard-issue microUSB 2.0 port is on the bottom - Sony's not yet ready to make the jump to Type-C connectivity yet - not that we're overeager either. The primary mic is here too.
In the hand the Sony Xperia X Performance feels heavy and expensive. Thanks to its flat panels there isn't the subjective effect of thinning towards the side edges like the Galaxy S7 for example. The upside to this is that the sides give plenty of area for your fingers to secure a tight grip.
Sony also gave us samples of the accessory cases that will be available for the Xperia X Performance - all members of the Style Cover family. All except the SBC 20 are made of soft faux leather in the same selection of colors, as are available for the phone itself. They all leave the fingerprint sensor exposed, but do cover the other buttons.
The Style Cover Touch (SCR56) is the smartest of the bunch if you could call a case that. Its front is not leather, but frosted plastic instead, so it's relatively transparent with the premise to allow you to use the phone without flipping the cover open. You pair the phone with the cover via NFC and an icon in the app drawer pops up where you can enable the cover's only option - to boost the screen brightness when it's closed.
The Style Cover Flip is similar, minus the transparency - so it's basically a flip cover with no brains. Flipping it open does wake up the phone, so there's that.
The Style Cover SBC30 is a bumper case which protects the back and the sides, leaving the display unobstructed (unprotected too). The SBC20 does the same, but is made of clear silicone.