Review – Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
Living in the modern era of today, smartphones are so common that it has pretty much become a necessity. Though, that isn’t to say that smartphones are still affordable to the point that literally everyone can get one. It’s fortunate that there are entry-level or affordable options for those who just need a simple phone to get by with. But if you need something just a step higher than that, look no further than to the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra.
The XA2 Ultra is Sony’s latest entry into the middle range of smartphones, along with the less powerful XA2. Essentially a more powerful version of the XA2, the XA2 Ultra is plenty huge and whilst it is not going to net you the performance of flagship smartphones, it should suffice for most users. Coupled with a large screen, this smartphone is loaded with three cameras that will make it a good device for any selfie-lover out there.
It’s no understatement when it comes to this smartphone’s big size – the Sony XA2 Ultra is a very large phone, courtesy of its impressive 6-inch screen. From the exterior, the XA2 Ultra does not vary much from Sony’s distinctively rectangular smartphone design, retaining the sharp corners. The large screen is framed by bezels which are noticeably thinner on the sides but are somewhat awkwardly large on the top and bottom. Aesthetics-wise, the thin side bezels look nice with the screen stretching from side-to-side, though the top and bottom ones could have been a little smaller.
In terms of ergonomics, the XA2 Ultra is relatively nice to hold in your hand. The device surface is slightly rounded due to the ‘loop design’, which contrasts the boxy feel that the rectangular shape and sharp corners give off. Although the curved surface does make it more pleasant to hold in one hand, it should usually be used with both hands given the XA2 Ultra’s large and unwieldy size, especially during typing. The device’s bulk is a double-edged sword too; because while a big screen is nice, its big size is further offset by its heavier weight at a good 221g.
On the back of the phone is a fingerprint scanner located just beneath the rear camera. Most wired headphone users would be pleased to know that the XA2 Ultra does not forego the 3.5mm jack, which is located at the right-hand side at the top. Likewise, there is a Type-C USB port at the bottom. An interesting and convenient feature that better accentuates the camera-focused design of the XA2 Ultra is the dedicated shutter button on the lower-right side of the device.
Colour options for the smartphone come in pretty standard fare of black, blue, gold, and silver. However, users should take note that the XA2 Ultra is lacking the water-resistant ability Sony is known for in its smartphones.
Selfless design for selfies
In addition to the smartphone’s large screen, the XA2 Ultra is capable enough for good photography, though one thing that did seem a tad unusual is the XA2 having its two cameras on the front rather than on the back. The device comes with three cameras – two on the front and one on the back. A nice feature is the dedicated shutter button that lies in the natural position on the right when the phone is held in landscape mode.
Compensating for its single rear camera is the 23MP back camera, which is plenty powerful to capture all sorts of photographs in different scenarios. This camera has stepped up its video-recording game with the ability to record at 4K resolution thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 chipset. Adding to this is the camera’s ability to record in 120fps for clear slow-motion recording, which looks pretty good on the large screen.
On the other hand, the front cameras are designed specifically to enhance the selfie-taking ability of smartphones and they each carry their unique trait. One camera comes in 16MP while the other comes in 8MP. The notable aspect of the 16MP camera is its OIP (Optical Image Stabilization) which helps prevent blurring of your shots, while the 8MP camera allows for 120° wide angle selfies. Assisting both front cameras is an LED flash which is useful for darker lighting conditions.
Generally speaking, the 16MP camera should be the one users default to due to its better quality and stabilization while the 8MP camera is more suitable for selfies where a lot of people are involved. The presence of two cameras on the front rather than on the back may make users more inclined to use it for selfies, but the rear camera isn’t a downgrade either.
Being an Android phone, the XA2 Ultra comes with Android 8.0 Oreo as its operating system. However, the XA2 Ultra is a slight step-up in device specifications compared to its younger brother – the XA2. Although a mid-range smartphone, the XA2 Ultra comes with enough power to boot with its Snapdragon 630 chipset (which enables the device to record in 4K) along with 4GB of RAM.
Storage space is doubled from the XA2’s 32GB to 64GB, and comes with a microSD card slot for additional storage space. In terms of smartphone storage, this is a lot of space to store your apps, files, and photos, so storage space shouldn’t be a worry unless you’re taking a lot of photos, which, thanks to the triple cameras on the device, just might be the reason for the large space.
Slots-wise, the XA2 Ultra is equipped with Dual SIM and a slot for a MicroSD card just to further enhance its capabilities.
Owing partly to the large size of the XA2 Ultra is its likewise just as huge battery. The battery under the hood holds a good 3,580 mAh, which can last the device roughly 4 to 5 days when kept on standby mode and at least a reasonable amount of time under heavy use (approximately a day). The device is also equipped with Quick Charge 3.0 to allow users to spend less time on charging. Also, Sony has further optimized the XA2 Ultra’s battery with other battery-saver tech to keep it going.
Battery life is further aided by a setting known as Smart STAMINA Mode, which predicts how long your battery will last and when to activate its STAMINA mode (basically a power-saving mode) so that you can keep using it when battery is low.
The battery from external looks alone should reflect its capability for holding at least a decent amount of battery charge, considering the device’s large size.
With a massive 6” screen and a triple camera array, the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra is a decent smartphone overall for those wanting a bigger screen, good camera quality, and a decent battery all in a mid-range smartphone that won’t burn a hole in their wallets. However, the XA2 Ultra is rather bulky and heavy compared to the average smartphone. With how smartphone developers are planning to slowly phase out the headphone jack, Sony made the right choice in retaining the 3.5mm jack in the XA2 Ultra, which may or may not be a deal breaker to some users.
Overall, a recommended mid-range smartphone that doesn’t cost as much for a big screen, but may cost a bigger physical space to store it.