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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C

Sony has a new smartphone range, but does X mark the spot?

The Xperia gets a new range of smartphones, but is the X the beginning of something new and better?

Score: 7/10

Verdict: A familiar style brings a mix of old and new but the Xperia X isn’t quite worth the asking price.

WHEN SONY SAID it would be ending the Z range of Xperia phones, it announced the X range as its replacement. The smartphone business was one area it wasn’t performing too well in despite the many Xperia Z models it has released, and a fresh start is probably what it needs to bring itself back into contention.

Now the range is arriving this month and it’s starting off with the mid-range Xperia X, but it isn’t quite the start it was hoping for.

Keeping things familiar

Sony doesn’t deviate from its usual design, favouring a rectangular design with slightly curved edges.

There’s nothing wrong with it, even if it’s a little boring. Sony is following an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach and it’s probably better considering how many high- and mid-range devices now look remarkably similar.

Xperia gif 1

The power button, which doubles up as a fingerprint scanner, is located at the right-hand side, and unlocking it is easy thanks to the 5-inch screen being just the right size for your hand.

There is one annoying part. The volume buttons and camera buttons are located on the bottom right-hand side.

A higher position for the volume buttons would be more convenient as it can be tough adjusting the volume if it’s in your pocket while the inclusion of a dedicated camera button feels somewhat archaic considering the methods other makers use to activate the camera.


Running on Android Marshmallow, the Xperia X is quick at dealing with tasks. Whatever tricks it’s using, the speed in which it moves between tasks is certainly noticeable and feels almost on par with the Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy S7.

Apps load up relatively quickly, and it is good at handling the more intensive games out there, making it a pleasant experience.

Sony usually makes small changes to Android and it’s certainly the case here, but the most beneficial ones are mainly cosmetic. Some ideas like swiping down to bring up suggested apps would work if it didn’t allow the keyboard (with Swiftkey as the default) to cover half of them and the decision to give Sony apps their own coloured notifications begins to grate after a while.

And other ideas like double-tapping the screen to wake it up are useful but you have to go into settings to turn it on. That said, it’s a UI that could do with being simplified a little more to be truly useful.

Xperia gif 2

As far as multimedia offerings go, Sony is probably one of the best thanks to features like Playstation Remote Play but how useful these are will depend on how committed you are to Sony’s own first-party software. If you’re not, then those notifications are only going to annoy you further.

Speaking of media, the screen quality is perfectly fine for a high-end device but if you’re not a fan of overstated colours, you might not like what you see. You can adjust this but you’ll still end up with exaggerated colours, something that can feel off at certain times.

The battery life is respectable – you’ll get a day out of it through average use – but it does drop faster than you might expect. Sony says it would last two days but that’s if you’re a very light user. If you’re using intensive apps, or the camera, then charging daily will be a necessity.

Image 4


The cameras, a 23MP rear-end and 13MP front-facing camera, should be the strong point of the X yet is let down by its software choices. It focuses on more vibrant colours but unlike the Galaxy S7, it doesn’t put its best foot forward.

The interface is simplified and easy to navigate, and there are numerous modes to choose from but photos can be noisy and lack detail.

Testing it out in bright situations, it can capture the foreground but it usually ends up overcompensating with brightness in auto mode while low-light situations aren’t much better either, focusing too much on blue colour temperature, which is a major disappointment.

The result is photos that can end up with more noise and less detail than you would expect.

Sony has a new smartphone range, but does X mark the spot?
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  • Xperia X photos

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Should you buy one?

The Xperia X is a mixture of old habits and new features and while it’s certainly performs well, a number of things trip it up. The camera software is probably the most glaring one, not to mention an over-vibrant display and tired look and feel undermine what should have been the core of a good phone.

The biggest problem is it just doesn’t offer anything better that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. The Xperia Z5 is a few months old but is likely cheaper to buy, while others like Samsung, HTC and OnePlus have better offerings for a greater or lower price. The X is priced at €599, which is too high considering what else is out there.

If the Xperia X was supposed to signal the beginning of a new and better Sony smartphone, then this is a false start.

- Good Android design.
- Good performance.
- Sharp video capture.

- Camera quality is inconsistent.
- Screen colours can be a little too exaggerated.
- A little too expensive for what you’re getting.

The Sony Xperia X costs €599 (unlocked) and will be available later this month.

Read: Without the budget of Google, these Waterford students created a self-driving car >

Read: This is now the second best-selling videogame of all time >

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