The Sony Xperia XA has a 5" screen covered under a 2.5D scratch-resistant glass (Sony doesn't give out brand names). It's backed by Mobile Bravia Engine 2 and also offers Super-vivid mode.
The resolution - 720 x 1,280px, or simply 720p - is stretched a bit thin at this size. Up close you can see it's not as sharp as a 1080p screen, though the 294ppi pixel density makes this a minor complaint (iPhone 6s is at 326ppi).
Colors are not as vivid as on Triluminos displays on some other Xperias. They are not as accurate either, with an average deltaE of 8.3 (max 11.4). We've seen better in this price range, but accuracy is comparable to say, Galaxy S6.
White balance is off, but there are sliders that allow you to manually adjust the white balance by using R, G and B sliders. Improving accuracy is tricky with this system, but at least you can get a white balance you like.
Colors aside, Sony did pick out a capable panel - it's fairly bright and offers great contrast thanks to the low black levels. At night, you can set the brightness under 5 nits to avoid the painful glare of a bright screen.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
Image enhancements include Mobile Bravia Engine 2, which works for photos and videos. It enhances colors, sharpens the image all the while reducing noise. There's also Super-vivid mode, which gives you "surreal, vibrant and super-vivid images."
When viewed at an angle, the screen shows no contrast loss but you can definitely see hues shift and change (it looks as if the saturation changes).
Sunlight legibility is very good for the class - it's nearly the same as on the Xperia Z5 Compact and (surprisingly) better than the flagship HTC 10.
You can enable automatic brightness from the settings (but not from the quick toggles in the notification area). Smart backlight control keeps the lights on while you're looking at the screen, so you can set a short display sleep timeout, but still read long texts at your own pace.
The Sony Xperia XA comes in single and dual-SIM flavors. VoLTE is supported for higher quality audio in calls (assuming your carrier has enabled it).
The phones can drink Internet at up to 150Mbps speeds thanks to LTE Cat. 4 (50Mbps up) or Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (dual-band) if you prefer a local connection.
Bluetooth 4.1 with Low Energy and audio-focused aptX is on board as well. NFC is available too.
Wireless media connections include DLNA and Miracast. There's no wired TV out, but the USB port does support On The Go for hooking up external storage.
The Sony Xperia XA is thin and light, which doesn't leave much room for battery capacity. The XA is loaded with 2,300mAh in total, which is not much for a 5" phone, though some devices manage to pull off a decent endurance of similar units.
It does support a fast charging tech, MediaTek's PumpExpress 2.0 to be exact and Sony says you can get over 5 hours of battery life in just 10 minutes with its UCH12 charger.
In some regions you will need to provide your own charger, though, the one we got is a standard 1.5A. Also, note that the Quick Charge power bricks we tried didn't push more than 1.5A, so look for a charger specifically compatible with PumpExpress.
Sony's Stamina battery saving feature comes standard here. It has two modes: regular Stamina, and Ultra Stamina. The first disables non-essential features like GPS and vibration, and takes performance down a notch, but the Xperia does remain a smartphone.
Ultra Stamina is for absolutely dire occasions when you don't expect to be able to find a power outlet for a prolonged period of time. Enable that and it's back to basics where you get a single homescreen with access to the dialer and contacts, text messages, camera and clock.
Like its other X siblings, the Xperia XA battery uses Qnovo tech, which promises to prolong its usable life. As batteries age, they can hold less and less charge and that's just the problem Qnovo solves by intelligently monitoring the charge that goes into the battery.
The actual battery performance isn't great - we only squeezed out 40 hours of Endurance rating. This means to reach Sony's promised 2-day battery life, you shouldn't push the Xperia XA too hard. Web browsing proved the biggest drain, you can get just over 5 hours. We've seen better from phones with smaller batteries. Even the Helio P10 chipset does okay in other phones. Still, video playback was surprisingly good and the 10 hour talk time (while not great) should be enough.
Update, August 23: We re-retested the Sony Xperia XA and the web browsing time improved significantly, which along with an improvement in standby time pushed the Endurance rating up to 54 hours.
The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.