Sony Xperia XA2 just like the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Plus, comes equipped with a 23MP camera on its back. The camera sensor on the Xperia XA2 should be the same in-house IMX300 sensor, which sits behind a familiar a 24mm-equiv. f/2.0 aperture lens but this year, it's gotten the complete set of features that the flagship Z5 series got back in the day such as 4K video recording, 120fps slow motion video, ISO 12,800 and hybrid auto focus with phase detection. So even though the camera looks to be same as on last year's XA1, it should actually have another ace or two up its sleeve.
Depending on whether you shoot in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, different portions of the sensor are used; you get either 22.8MP or 20.1MP images, respectively, and never the full 25MP. Hence the official 23MP designation. Among the benefits of having such a multi-aspect sensor are the similar field of view in both modes (measured diagonally), and higher-res 16:9 shots than what you'd get by cropping from a regular 23MP sensor which has a 4:3 aspect ratio.
Phase-detection autofocus, and a single LED flash complete the specs of the main camera.
Sony's camera app has been polished over the years, but the Xperia XA2 doesn't come with the latest version found on the XZ1 phones. This means if you want to shoot 4K video, you'll have to find it in the extra camera modes drawer, instead of the video-recording tab where you'd expect it to be.
Superior Auto is the default mode and it will try to adjust image parameters to better match the scene by recognizing among some two dozen different scenarios. It can also engage HDR for you (Backlit scene it's called), which isn't available as a toggle in this mode - it's only found in Manual mode.
Other than HDR override, in Manual mode you get access to full range shutter speed selection (1/4000s - 1s), exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, and a manual focus slider.
The Xperia XA2 captures a great deal of fine detail in bright light. There is, inevitably, visible noise in areas of uniform color, but not as much to impact the quality.
Superior Auto does a good job of recognizing the scene and dials up the saturation in landscape scenarios to achieve pleasingly vivid output.
Dynamic range is decent too. There's a hint of corner softness, but it's inevitable with such a wide-angle lens and it's in the extreme corners, so you shouldn't worry.
HDR mode can only be enabled manually in, um, Manual mode, but Superior Auto has you covered with Backlit scene mode, when it recognizes that it's a difficult high-contrast scene. Manual HDR tends to produce super-saturated over-the-top images. For comparison, check out the shots below.
The Xperia XA2's camera handled the low-light scenes well. There is enough detail, though a lot of it was smudged in post processing by the noise reduction algorithm. While the night pictures are nothing impressive at 23MP, once downscaled at 5 or 8MP, they are quite nice.
If you set the phone up on a tripod, the shutter speed in Superior Auto can go as low as 0.5s, at least in theory. You can slow it even further - to 1s - if you switch to Manual. We wish Sony allowed for longer shutter speeds (say, 30s) but long exposure shooting is a niche application for a phone camera anyway.
Here are two flagship-grade samples in quality shot at the slowest possible shutter speed of 1s. Oddly, those were saved in 8MP by the camera app perhaps in an effort to reduce noise.
Finally, the panoramic shots the Xperia XA2 produces have a height of up to 3,500 pixels. Width is up to you, though, since you can stop the capturing process at any time. The resolved detail is average, and the samples are quite soft, but there are no stitching artifacts, unless you shoot moving objects.
You can put the Xperia XA2 against other phones in our Picture Compare Tool. We've preselected the Xperia XA1 and the Z5.
The Sony Xperia XA2 comes with an 8MP, 1/4" snapper with an impressively wide field of view. 120-degree, or a 11mm equivalent should be enough even for the most ambitious group shots. And in case that is a bit too broad to accommodate your regular selfie needs, there is also a toggle to bring it down to 80-degree (22mm equivalent). In comparison, last year's XA1 had a 90-degree angle field-of-view on the selfie camera.
The selfie quality is subpar - there is below average detail, the photos are soft overall and the images look out of focus. We wonder why Sony decided to opt out of the autofocus for the XA2 in contrast of the older XA1 and bigger XA2 Ultra. Sometimes the soft skin effect smears fine detail to an extent where it makes the face look weird, so we'd generally suggest turning this option off.
On a positive note, the wide shots are quite impressive because of how much they fit in the frame. We are sure quite a few selfie fans will appreciate this lens.
The Xperia XA2's shooting modes include 4K with SteadyShot video stabilization and all the standards you would expect - 1080p/30fps and high-speed 1080p/60fps options. There is also a 120fps recording in 720p.
Shooting in 2160p/1080p at 30fps allows you to use the 3-axis Standard SteadyShot electronic stabilization. The feature reduces the field of view and does a good job stabilizing the image. While it's not the best we've seen, it's more than enough for the class.
4K clips are soft with average detail, but with great contrast, accurate colors, and decent dynamic range. The audio is captured at 96kbps and unfortunately, appears to be low in quality.
When shooting in 4K, the XA2 gives you a choice between H.264 or H.265 codecs. The latter has a smaller storage footprint, but pixel-peeping didn't reveal any potential differences in quality between the two. So it's a safe bet to opt for the newer and more efficient standard, especially now that YouTube supports it. When you are not uploading your videos to the cloud but are checking them out on the computer, be aware though that H.265 requires a more powerful PC for playback compared to H.264.
1080p videos are sharper, with lots of detail, good contrast and decent dynamic range as well. The framerate is smooth no matter if you opt for 30 or 60fps.
Below you have the Xperia XA2 in out video compare tool as well.