The retail box is visibly larger than previous X boxes, and you should be excited to know that the phone just barely fits in, it's that big. There's not much else other than the phone, though - a charger and a microUSB cable, a few notes of paper tucked in at the bottom, that's it.
We got the 1.5A charger, however Sony packaging varies by region and the US market usually gets a fast charger. Be sure to check before you buy and if there isn't one, look for a charger that supports MediaTek's Pump Express 2.0 standard and not Qualcomm's Quick Charge.
The Sony Xperia XA Ultra measures 164 x 79 x 8.4mm, making it the narrowest 6" phone in our database. It beat the Xperia C5 Ultra by 0.6mm in that department.
The XA Ultra isn't as dainty in the other directions, though. There are shorter, thinner and lighter 6" phones around. To be fair, width and weight are the most important factors for comfort when holding a large phone, but at least that thickness and weight could have come with a large battery.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra was one of the earliest - and one of the best - big phones. Seriously, that thing had a 6.4" screen back in 2013! It was super thin too, 6.5mm, and yet had a 3050mAh battery (bigger than XA Ultra's). It had a metal frame and a glass back, a round button on the side.
The T2 Ultra came later on in 2014 and C5 Ultra in 2015, and gradually Sony began having one of these 6" monsters every year. This year they're also continuing another feature from the C5 Ultra - the focus on selfies. The C5 Ultra had a 13MP selfie cam with its own LED flash.
The Sony Xperia XA Ultra's selfie camera is much better, of course. The sensor is bigger and of higher resolution, it has OIS too. The new Ultra is a more premium offering with a metal frame, even though it fills in the same midrange niche. None of that ugly glossy plastic on the back either, it's smooth, good quality polycarbonate this time around and we very much appreciate the change.
All this history lesson is to say that Sony has been doing large phones for years and if you liked the previous Ultras, you'll love this one too.
The 79mm worth of width is okay to hold with one hand, but to use the phone, you'll need both hands, which is understandable for such a big phone.
The whole thing is heavier than expected, which makes it more tiring to hold for long periods. We wish it weighed less. As it is now, it weighs as much as the 6.4" Xiaomi Mi Max and that thing is fully covered in metal and has a 4,850mAh battery as well.
Credit to Sony, however, for doing what it could to keep the phone as narrow as possible. In fact, as far as our research went, the XA Ultra might very well be the narrowest 6-inch phone there is.
The side bezels around the display are spectacularly thin. Any less than that and you'll be triggering unintentional touches from just holding the phone.
The front glass has beveled edges (aka 2.5D glass) and it is scratch resistant, though Sony doesn't name any brand. The curve flows smoothly from glass to rounded metal sides which felt great. What's more the curved edges look great as well.
The sides themselves are made of metal, but the top and bottom parts of the phone frame pieces have a different finish than the side frames. That's a minor complaint, but they would have looked much better if they were of the same color.
Besides the front camera, above the display there's the selfie flash, the earpiece, and the proximity and ambient light sensors. This camera, of course, is the highlight here and it is visually much bigger than a typical selfie cam, one glance is all you need to know that it means business.
Next to those, a bit harder to spot, is a LED notification light.
There's nothing below the screen - no keys there. Too bad that Sony missed the opportunity to put their traditional stereo speakers on such a big phone where there sure is room to spare.
The single loudspeaker is on the bottom of the phone, to the left of the microUSB port and one of the mics.
The other mic is on the top of the phone, next to the standard 3.5mm headphone jack.
All hardware buttons on the Sony Xperia XA Ultra are on the right side. This includes the volume rocker, stuffed between the Power key and the shutter key. The keys are nice and responsive.
True, we're not big fans of this arrangement in most recent Sony phones as it places the volume rocker too low for comfortable use. But the XA Ultra is so large that its placement actually works out okay this time.
The Power key is the trademark round aluminum key we know from the Z series, there's no fingerprint readers on the XA duo. Sony says the fingerprint reader would not have fit onto the thin bezels and it kind of makes sense but we would still have liked to see one on a phone in this price segment.
On the left side is a flap that covers the card slots. There is no water-ingress protection on the XA Ultra so there is no extra seal on the flap.
Behind the flap there is a solid-looking tray for the SIM card and a slot for the microSD card.
There are dual-SIM XA Ultras as well but we didn't have one available to us. On those models the SIM card tray is longer so it holds two cards. No hybrid slots here, you can keep using a microSD cart (and you'll probably need one).
The back of the phone is made of satin finish plastic. It feels nice to the touch and it looks really nice. It's also less of a fingerprint magnet than the shiny plastic on the C5 Ultra but still, it would get smudged up quite fast in every-day use.
The camera and flash are tucked into the top left corner and the NFC antenna is a bit down and to the right. Some recent Sony phones have it on the front, which is somewhat inconvenient, so we're glad it's on the back now.
Overall, the Sony Xperia XA Ultra has the look and feel of an expensive phone and we're left with quite positive impressions.
The look of the thin bezels is strikingly impressive, which is a rarity these days. The metal sides make this huge phone feel rock solid so build quality is on par with the looks.