The Xperia XA1 is equipped with a 5" 720p display, making for a pixel density of 294ppi - not cutting edge, but decently sharp nonetheless. Under a microscope, you'll see a conventional RGB arrangement with equal number of subpixels for each primary color.
In our tests, the Xperia XA1 returned slightly higher numbers for maximum brightness than its predecessor, and only a bit lower than the flagship XZs. The XA1's blacks weren't as deep, which affected contrast but it's still remained above 1000:1.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
The sunlight legibility marks a small improvement over the Xperia X. It's on par with, say, Nexus 5X, and close to the Huawei P9, but behind some mid-range AMOLED-packing phones.
In terms of color reproduction, the Xperia XA1 does an okay job of staying close to sRGB. We measured an average DeltaE of 4.2 with a maximum of 7.5 and slightly purplish whites. You can alter the colors in Settings, but fiddling with the RGB sliders reduces brightness (default values produce the brightest output), and it doesn't really bring more accurate colors.
The Sony Xperia XA1 comes in single and Dual SIM flavors. Ours is the single SIM version, so we can't comment on how the Dual SIM one handles the two cards. Cat.6 LTE is supported by the Helio P20's modem for download speeds of up to 300Mbps.
Wi-Fi a/b/g/n is supported, but not ac. You can stream wirelessly over Miracast but the XA1 isn't DLNA certified. Bluetooth is now v4.2, as opposed to the XA's 4.1 with Low Energy and audio-focused aptX on board as well. NFC is available too, and so is an FM radio receiver. For positioning, you get GPS and GLONASS, but no BDS and Galileo.
Peripherals can be connected via the USB-C port, but it only adheres to USB 2.0, so transfer speeds are limited to 480Mbps. There's a good old 3.5mm jack for attaching headphones too.
The Xperia XA1 keeps the predecessor's battery capacity, so it packs 2,300mAh worth of juice, which is not a lot by any measure. In the 5-to-5.2-inch display size category, a 3,000mAh capacity seems to be the norm - the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017), Xiaomi Mi 5 and Mi 5s, Honor 8, and Huawei nova all have as much (though admittedly most of these are 5.2 inches). The Moto G5 relies on a 2,800mAh power pack.
But it's not only the battery capacity that matters as the power efficiency of the chipset is paramount to the smartphone battery life. The Xperia XA1 is the first phone with Mediatek's Helio P20 chipset and we were especially curious to see how the battery tests results would turn out.
Admittedly, we approached this with mixed feelings. On one hand, the previous Mediatek chipset - the Helio P10 - didn't have a great track record in this respect and phones using it consistently performed badly in our battery testing. On the other hand, however, MediaTek claims that the new Helio P20 chipset should offer up to 25% better power efficiency than the P10 owing to the fact that it's built on a 16nm process node.
With all that said, we didn't quite know what to expect from the Xperia XA1, and we were more or less pessimistic. The phone, however, managed to surprise us with a consistently good battery life across all tests.
The Endurance rating of 72h is, coincidentally, as much as the Xperia XZs got recently. Kudos to Sony for improving battery performance across the entire portfolio this year and kudos to Mediatek for finally improving the power efficiency of its chipsets.
The Endurance rating above is how long a single battery charge would last you if you use the phone for a hour of calling, video watching and web browsing per day and it includes the battery discharge rate in standby mode. Our 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.
In terms of charging speeds, the Xperia XA1 should come with Mediatek's PumpExpress 2.0 quick charging solution. The charger, which we received with the phone, however, didn't support the technology. It could only output 5V/1.5A current so a 30-minute charging session from 0% managed to restore only 32% of the battery capacity, which, honestly, is from being quick. We're talking about a 2,300mAh battery after all.
The Qnovo Adaptive Charging tech built inside recent Sony Xperia phones, however, allows the smartphone to monitor the cell's electrochemical processes in real time and adjust charging parameters dynamically to minimize cell damage and extend the battery unit's lifespan.
Qnovo claims the battery should last hundreds of charge cycles more than a conventionally charged battery. This potentially means a year or so of extra longevity as the battery should hopefully be able to hold charge better once it gets older.