Last updated on November 17, 2017
The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus is one of the three smartphones unveiled by Sony this year. The difference between the XA1 Plus and the Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact is that it is a mid-range version of the two without some of their hi-tech functions.
So is it worth buying this mid-range smartphone in this flagships infested age? Here’s our review of the Xperia XA1 Plus.
The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus has a 5.5-inch Full-HD (1080p) display, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory (expandable up to 256GB). It runs on Android OS 7.0 Nougat, which we think that it should receive the Oreo update in coming months. The size of the smartphone is larger than the previous model of the Xperia XA1 series, hence the name, Plus. The XA1 Plus stands at 15.5cm tall, 7.5cm wide, 0.87cm thick and it weighs at 190g, which is about 40g heavier than the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact.
The XA1 Plus sports a 23MP rear camera with a 24mm f2.0 lens, which gives users a decent shallow depth of field and excellent low-light performance. Unfortunately, taking photos on it is not as snappy as other smartphones (pun unintended). There’s still a few milliseconds of lag before you can make the second shot. So it is not so ideal if you are taking photos of a moving object where faster shutters can help you get at least one usable shot.
However, when taking stills, the XA1 Plus is still a beast for a mid-range smartphone.
Check out these photos taken on the XA1 Plus in the day and indoor.
The low-light performance of the camera also impressed us a lot. Although noise is still visible in the images we took, we feel that the camera still did a good job suppressing the noise level to the lowest of its ability. We also noticed that the temperature of the image tends to tilt towards the cool side. But it can be fixed with some light editing.
The XA1 Plus’s front-facing camera is 8MP and has a 0.1 wider lens than the rear camera but with the same aperture. This makes taking selfies brighter even in low-light conditions. With its 23mm lens, taking group selfies will be more comfortable. You don’t have to squeeze everyone together just to make a shot.
Battery life is one of the most critical aspects of every smartphone, and with the XA1 Plus running on the power-efficient MediaTek helio P20 Octa-Core processor, one would have high expectations on the battery life on this device.
This is precisely what Sony is delivering.
The XA1 Plus has a 3430mAh battery and during my test, it lasted a good 2 days where I watched videos, surfed Facebook, Instagram and replied to emails. All these were made possible with the help of Sony’s Stamina Mode.
The XA1 Plus supports quick charging as well. A 30-minute charge was kind enough to give me an additional 4 hours of battery life. The smartphone also has the Qnovo Adaptive Charging technology and Battery Care built-in. According to Sony, these two functions “work together to maintain the long-term health of the battery by monitoring its health and adjusting the charging current accordingly to avoid damage and maximise its lifespan.” Unfortunately, we are unable to test this out as we have only two weeks of time with the XA1 Plus.
At the top of the device is a 3.5mm headphone jack and at the bottom, it has a speaker that packs a serious punch. With the ClearAudio+ and Smart Amplifier, the audio projecting out of the speaker is loud and clear. Of course, a front-facing speaker would have been better, but hey, this is a mid-range smartphone.
Like other Sony phones, the power button acts as a fingerprint sensor to unlock the XA1 Plus, and it feels natural to have it on the right side of the phone. Perhaps it is also because of the placement that I often accidentally accessed my phone when I’m only slipping it into my pocket. So this is a point to take note in case you pocket dial someone that you don’t intend to.
Buy or Bye?
For a mid-range smartphone, the Sony Xperia XA1 Plus has a camera, battery and audio that are comparable or better than some flagship smartphones out in the market.
During our two weeks of time with it, we really could not find a standout flaw that is a definite dealbreaker, which many mid-range smartphones tend to show.
If there is one thing that we have to squeeze out from an almost perfect non-flagship smartphone, it has to be the huge bezels at the top and bottom of the device. They were the first thing that many of my friends noticed as well when they saw it for the first time.
We do understand that Sony wants to keep a standardised look and feel across all their phone models but times have changed so does the size of the bezels on a smartphone.
If your budget is tight and you do want a decent smartphone with a good quality camera and battery life, where aesthetic is secondary to you, the Sony Xperia XA1 Plus is the phone for you.
It is currently retailing at only S$498 and comes in Gold, Pink, Blue and Black.
You can get it in Sony Store, Sony Centre, M1, SingTel, StarHub and authorised retail partners.