Sony's Xperia XA Ultra is all screen, and even more camera

Selfie-obsessed shutterbugs after a stylish statement phone will be drawn to this 6-inch device like moths to a flame.

Katie Collins

Katie Collins

Senior European Correspondent

Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.

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Sony has yet to put its freshly introduced Xperia X smartphone range on sale and it's already updating the lineup with a new 6-inch model.

Enter the Xperia XA Ultra. It might be late to the party, but it's still making a statement.

Unlike the Xperia X, the smaller XA and the X Performance, which are all about top specs and processing might, the real emphasis of this larger phone targeted at younger, edgier phone owners is its photography prowess. And, of course, its attention-grabbing screen.

Just like the Xperia XA, there's nothing new to see design-wise here from Sony, but the Ultra does support that superthin bezel that so impressed us when we first saw it on its smaller sibling. The benefit of the edge-to-edge display really does come into its own with a larger phone. It gives the impression that the XA Ultra's 6-inch screen is in fact closer to 5.5 inches in size. With no excess metal down the sides, this phone is also easier to keep a hold of.

Sony supersizes its selfie efforts with the Xperia XA Ultra

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A selfie-lover's camera

The front-facing 16-megapixel camera has a super-wide angle that has been designed to produce bright selfies in all conditions with no sign of blurring. Unusually for Sony, this camera comes with optical image stabilisation. According to Jun Makino, Sony's senior manager of product experience marketing, this is because "your hands tend to shake when you are taking selfies with a big phone." We'll leave final verdict on the quality of the low-light shots for our full review.

A couple of clever tricks like a hand-activated shutter and a timer in the top corner -- to encourage people to look at the lens rather than themselves -- should enhance selfies further. Additionally, the night portrait mode combines an image taken with the flash off and an image with the flash on to present a single, well-balanced photo in which the foreground and background are both adequately lit.

Plenty of attention has also been paid to the main camera, which packs an impressive 21.5 megapixels. Hybrid autofocus object tracking is built in, which means it should be stay on the ball -- should you be attempting to photograph a moving one -- but it doesn't have the same predictive capabilities as the Xperia X.

Internal specs

Inside is the same Mediatek processor as the Xperia XA, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal expandable storage. As much as it's necessary to take note of what the phone offers, it may also be worth casting your eye over what it is missing -- namely no waterproofing and no USB-C.

The XA Ultra will be available in graphite black, white and lime gold. There is no word yet on availability and pricing, but Sony did say that it had a global release planned for the phone.