The Sony Xperia XA Ultra comes with a 6" screen - even by today's standards that's big! And it has 1080p resolution, giving it a pixel density of 367ppi, sharper than the 720p screen of the small XA (294ppi). We are really happy with how fine details look on the screen and we think this sort of resolution is quite adequate for pretty much anyone - not to mention the power efficiency and graphics performance benefits.
The panel used is an IPS LCD and it has great viewing angles. It doesn't have Sony's Triluminos panel tech like on the Xperia X lineup but honestly, we can't tell just by looking at it and without comparing it directly to another display that has it.
Color accuracy is average with an average deltaE of 7.4 and a maximum of 13.4. Those are similar readings to the Xiaomi Mi Max, for example, but worse than some large AMOLEDs (e.g. Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) or Oppo R7 Plus).
The main culprits are the white balance, which is on the cool side, and the red channel. There are sliders to adjust the screen's RGB channels separately, but eyeballing a more accurate result is next to impossible. Just get a color balance you like and stick with it.
Two additional screen modes are Mobile Bravia 2 and Super Vivid. Bravia applies image processing - noise reduction, sharpening, etc. in the gallery and video player - while Super Vivid boosts the gamma curve to make images pop. Neither screen mode affected the maximum achievable brightness or the color accuracy.
Speaking of brightness, the Sony Xperia XA Ultra screen is very bright, brighter than most screens its size. It went up to 530 nits while keeping the contrast relatively high at just over 1,000:1.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
When you go the other way, push the brightness slider to minimum, the display put out 6.7 nits - low enough that you can use it in the middle of the night.
Sunlight legibility is surprisingly good. AMOLEDs still offer a slightly better performance, but most LCDs in this price range - and several flagships among which the Xperia Z5 - don't do quite as well on a bright sunny day. Sony gets top marks for the XA Ultra display.
The Sony Xperia XA Ultra comes in single and dual-SIM variants. It has LTE connectivity, Cat. 4 150Mbps/50Mbps, and HSPA+. Other Internet connectivity options include Wi-Fi a/b/g/n (150Mbps speed, there's no ac).
Bluetooth 4.1 has both the Low Energy option and the high-quality aptX audio streaming codec. NFC is on board as well.
The microUSB 2.0 port handles charging and data, obviously, but it also supports USB OTG so you can hook up external hardware. If you're going to use flash drives, make sure to install a file browser first as there isn't one out of the box.
Sony's Video & TV SideView app shows an electronic program guide and can control Bravia TVs via Wi-Fi (there's no IR blaster to control regular TVs or other appliances).
FM radio is available for old-school entertainment. Like with TV, Sony has added some Internet smarts and built TrackID into the radio app.
The Sony Xperia XA Ultra has a tiny battery - just 2,700mAh. We're not being overly harsh, the C5 Ultra is about this size (a bit thinner, actually) and it has a 2,930mAh battery. Hell, even the Xperia Z5 Compact has a 2,700mAh battery. Yes, the 4.6" phone!
Considering that battery life was the major weak point of the Xperia XA, which had a similar-sized battery (2,300mAh), the same chipset and a smaller screen, we just didn't expect much before we started the following battery tests.
It turns out things are better than expected, a decent step up from the 5" XA (not so much the endurance as the performance in the web and video tests). However, endurance hasn't improved since the C5 Ultra and is fairly average for 2016. Other recent 6" phones (and bigger) push up against the 100h endurance rating mark and can last close to 20 hours of browsing the web. We're not afraid to take those to even the longest tech conventions, but with the XA Ultra we will pack an external battery.
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.