Sony Xperia X review: A great one-handed phone


Well, that felt good to get off my chest, but I still want to walk about the Xperia X camera, battery life and hardware specs. Also, you should know that this review and specs apply to the 32GB version of the Xperia X. Sony will also offer the phone in a 64GB, dual-SIM model, but hasn't shared pricing yet.

Camera quality

The Xperia X's images are truly impressive for a midrange phone, and it's a credit to Sony that the same 23-megapixel camera that's on the Xperia X Performance also makes it to this stepped-down device. Photos are colorful and detail-rich, but sometimes overexposed, and low light shots are more pleasing (if more artificially brightened) on Samsung's Galaxy S7. I don't love that image resolution defaults to 8-megapixels for the rear lens. This is to save on space, but you'll need to manually switch resolutions if you want to go higher. Images focus quickly, but take a few seconds to process.

Shot taken in a shaded alley, in automatic mode. Click to enlarge.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Sony's expertise in the standalone camera space brings some cool options to its phones, like a fill flash and manual mode. There's a lot of complimentary skin softening and soft focus, which is sometimes great and sometimes takes effort to turn off if you're itching for a little more reality.

The camera automatically switches shooting modes, like night mode, macro, landscape and sports. The 13-megapixel front-facing camera automatically helps you look your best -- unlike other phones, there's no slider for controlling how much touching-up you get.

I also like the dedicated camera button on the right spine, and a settings option that immediately takes a photo when you wake up the camera by pressing this button. Here's an extra tip: Swipe straight down on the screen to switch camera modes (like from still to video), and swipe diagonally right to toggle from the front to rear cameras. The phone's gestures really work.

Battery life

Three CNET editors tested the Xperia X's battery on three different review units. Together, we got about a 9-hour average on the 2,620mAh battery on a looping video test. That's an hour or two less than we'd expect, and you'll see your battery drain faster with heavy use like navigation and music or video streaming over your carrier network.

However, do keep in mind that as an Android 6.0 phone, the X does includes Doze, which prolongs battery life while the handset's idle -- which is to say that real-world use should still last a standard work day between top-ups. There's also a built-in battery-saving mode, and the handset charges up in under two hours thanks to Qualcomm's quick-charge 2.0 standard.

Hardware specs

Sony Xperia X versus X Performance, Google Nexus 6P, HTC One A9, ZTE Axon 7

Sony Xperia X Sony Xperia X Performance Google Nexus 6P HTC One A9 ZTE Axon 7
Display size, resolution 5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 5.7-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels 5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 443ppi 443ppi 515ppi 440ppi 538ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.6x2.7x0.31 in 5.6x2.8x0.33 in 6.3x3.1x0.28 in 5.7x2.8x0.29 in 5.98 x 2.95 x 0.34 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 143x69x7.7 mm 143.7x70.5x8.6 mm 159x78x7.3 mm 145.75x70.8x7.26 mm 151.8 x 75 x 8.7 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.36 oz; 152g 5.8 oz; 164.43g 6.3 oz; 178g 5.04 oz; 143g 6.53 oz; 185g
Mobile software Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Camera 23-megapixel 23-megapixel 12.3-megapixel 13-megapixel 20-megapixel
Front-facing camera 13-megapixel 13-megapixel 8-megapixel 4-"Ultrapixel" 8-megapixel
Video capture 1,080p HD 1,080p HD 4K 1,080p HD 4K
Processor 1.8GHz hexa-core Snapdragon 650 2.1GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820
Storage 32GB 32GB 32GB, 64GB, 128GB 32GB 64GB, 128GB (varies by region)
RAM 3GB 3GB 3GB 3GB 4GB, 6GB
Expandable storage 200GB 200GB None 200GB Up to 128GB
Battery 2,620mAh (nonremovable) 2,700mAh (nonremovable) 3,450mAh (nonremovable) 2,150mAh (nonremovable) 3,000mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Power button (disabled in US) Power button (disabled in US) Back cover Home button Back cover
Connector Micro-USB Micro-USB USB-C Micro-USB USB-C
Special features Hardware shutter button Water-resistant "Pure" Android BoomSound Dual Sim
Price off-contract (USD) $549 $700 $499 (32GB); $549 (64GB); $649 (128GB) $429 $450
Price (GBP) Converts to £374 Converts to £479 £449 (32GB); £499 (64GB); £579 (128GB) £399.99 Converts to £346
Price (AUD) AU$799 AU$999 AU$899 (32GB); AU$999 (64GB); AU$1,099 (128GB) AU$579 Converts to AU$604
Dimensions (Inches) 5.6x2.7x0.31 in 5.6x2.8x0.33 in 6.3x3.1x0.28 in 6.0 x 3.0 x 0.39 in 5.98 x 2.95 x 0.34 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 143x69x7.7 mm 143.7x70.5x8.6 mm 159x78x7.3 mm 153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm 151.8 x 75 x 8.7 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.36 oz; 152g 5.8 oz; 164.43g 6.3 oz; 178g 5.47 oz (155g) 6.53 oz; 185g
Mobile software Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Camera 23-megapixel 23-megapixel 12.3-megapixel 16-megapixel 20-megapixel
Front-facing camera 13-megapixel 13-megapixel 8-megapixel 5-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 1,080p HD 1,080p HD 4K 1,080p HD 4K
Processor 1.8GHz six-core Snapdragon 650 2.1GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 2GHz eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820
Storage 32GB 32GB 32GB, 64GB, 128GB 64GB 64GB, 128GB (varies by region)
RAM 3GB 3GB 3GB 4GB 4GB, 6GB
Expandable storage 200GB 200GB None Up to 128GB Up to 128GB
Battery 2,620mAh (nonremovable) 2,700mAh (nonremovable) 3,450mAh (nonremovable) 3,000mAh (removable) 3,000mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Power button (disabled in US) Power button (disabled in US) Back cover Below screen Back cover
Connector Micro-USB Micro-USB USB-C Micro-USB USB-C
Special features Hardware shutter button Water-resistant "Pure" Android Water-resistant Dual Sim
Price off-contract (USD) $549 $700 $499 (32GB); $549 (64GB); $649 (128GB) Converts to $285 $450
Price (GBP) Converts to £374 Converts to £479 £449 (32GB); £499 (64GB); £579 (128GB) £199 Converts to £346
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$760 Converts to AU$974 AU$899 (32GB); AU$999 (64GB); AU$1,099 (128GB) Converts to AU$395 Converts to AU$604

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