Phone Performance Review: Sony Xperia X

Sony Xperia X

The Sony Xperia X Performance is a phone that makes a statement. It’s just not a very consistent one.

Like the others in the new X series, the Sony Xperia X Performance is really good at waving all the signs of a flagship phone. The eye-grabbing glass and brushed metal design make it enjoyable to look at and its 5.6-inch body fits nicely in one hand.

Underneath the hood, though, there’s a mix of what you’d expect to find in a top-tier smartphone, but with a few unpleasant surprises tossed in.

It contains the high-end Snapdragon 820 processor, but backs it with only 3GB of memory. The waterproof phone comes with the latest build of Android Marshmallow, offers PS4 Remote Play, and expandable storage. But the screen is limited to 1080p, and the battery capacity is a rather meager 2,700mAh.

Sony Xperia X

These shortcomings would be excusable if the Xperia X Performance were the least bit competitive in price with some of recent unlocked movers-and-shakers, like the OnePlus 3 or ZTE Axon 7. But it’s not even close.

Design

  • Glass, brushed metal finish
  • 5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 LCD display
  • 143.7 x 70.5 x 8.6mm, 5.8oz

If you’re seen one Xperia device within the past few years, you’ve seen them all. The Xperia X Performance falls neatly into that group, but it’s not a bad thing at all.

Sony Xperia X

Minimalists will love the Xperia X Performance for its subtle design touches. In the rose gold review unit provided to TechRadar by Sony, the brushed metal back and edges nicely play off the ever-so-slightly curved front panel.

The port layout is thoughtfully placed around the phone, and at first glance, it seems that so too are the buttons. While the power and dedicated camera capture buttons are easy to use and access during everyday use, the volume rocker is a bit of a nightmare.

Sony Xperia X

Located on the bottom right side of the trim, it makes a simple task needlessly difficult. The odd reach even caused the phone to slip out of our hands on occasion.

If you’re looking to get this phone in the US, here’s one more knock against the X Performance: it doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor built-in like its UK counterpart. For whatever reason, it has been omitted, though Sony’s website states otherwise.

Sony Xperia X

Given the fashion-forward look of the Xperia X Performance, it’s a delightful surprise that it’s dust and waterproof with a rating of IP68, which means that it can be plunged under water no deeper than a meter (under five feet) for up to a half hour. So a drop into the sink, a puddle, or even the toilet will be fine (just wash it reeeeally well afterward.)

Interface and reliability

Sony’s Xperia X Performance runs on Google’s latest official release, Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, but with a twist. The custom user interface will feel familiar to anyone who has used an Android smartphone, though it’s a far cry from the stock Android experience that you’ll find in the Nexus 6P.

You’ll find Sony’s spin on the basic apps, like messaging and music, along with some other pre-loaded apps to keep you looped into the world of Xperia. Some of it’s useful, like providing tips for taking advantage of the phone’s features, a Shazam-like TrackID app that helps you quickly identify a song in the wild, and exclusive themes and the occasional voucher for free digital goods via the Xperia Lounge.

Sony Xperia X

It even goes the extra mile in some regards. The Video app, for example, is (you guessed it) where you can watch your locally stored files. But Sony also lets you tie up your cable provider, which in turn morphs this seemingly basic app into a robust TV guide of sorts, complete with some small traces of Nintendo Wii U’s now-defunct TVii social functionality.

People who are new to Xperia, or smartphones in general, will appreciate the way things are laid out and the overlay’s measures to hold your hand through the experience. On the other hand, the veteran crowd will be happy to know that each of the custom apps can be disabled through the app drawer.

For:

  • Fetching design
  • Water-resistant
  • Expandable storage

Against:

  • High cost
  • Some mid-range specs
  • Lacks fingerprint sensor
  • Disappointing camera

Our Verdict

It’s as if Sony doesn’t realize how cutthroat this market is. Snapdragon 820 performance, waterproofing and microSD support aside, there’s not enough here to recommend this overly expensive Android phone.