The comparison with its predecessor Xperia Z5 shows a smaller display that has shrunk from 5.2 to 5 inches, while the resolution remains unchanged at 1920 x 1080 pixels. The LCD boasts a quality that is typical of Sony. For the first time, the Japanese company has chosen a glass front with rounded edges – so-called 2.5 D glass that makes a soft transition to the metal frame. Due to the smaller display, the housing is relatively compact: with 143 x 72 x 7.9 mm, the Xperia X is slightly easier to hold than its predecessor (146 x 72 x 7.3 mm). The back is made of aluminium instead of the previous glass, and slopes down slightly towards the edges, mirroring the glass front.
A luxurious feel
The round design and generous use of aluminium makes the Xperia X a treat to touch, as its ergonomic design adapts perfectly to the hand. In direct comparison with the Z5, a number of small details stand out: the camera lens now protrudes slightly from the housing, the cover for the nano-SIM and micro-SD is smaller. The processing of both models is excellent, however Sony has dropped the IP certification for Xperia X and the smartphone is no longer waterproof. This is a disadvantage in comparison to the competition like Samsung's Galaxy S7. The processor is a mid-range SoC Snapdragon 650 (SoC stands for system-on-a-chip), which was introduced in early 2015 and has rarely been used in smartphones to date. The 6-core achieves a performance under load conditions that is comparable to last year's top model Snapdragon 810. Combined with 3 GB memory and a powerful graphics processor (Adreno 510), this guarantees a fluid user experience for demanding graphical applications. However, its performance does not match other champion devices such as the iPhone 6s Plus (Apple A9), HTC 10 (Snapdragon 820), and Galaxy S7 (Exynos 8890). Currently, the performance differences can only be seen in the benchmarks, but in half a year, with a new version of Android and more demanding apps, they may be felt in everyday life. In any case, it should be noted that comparable high-end smartphones have more to offer.
- Premium design and look and fell
- Compact design that sits well in the hand
- Display with very good image quality
- Very good audio features
- Lean Android system with quick updates
- Very good wireless capabilities
- Long battery duration
- No longer waterproof
- Processor performance lags behind other top-of-the-range models
- Real unique features missing
Many musical tools
Sony has always been a good choice for music lovers, and the Xperia X is no exception. In addition to the excellent sound, the device impresses with many extras, from sound improvements such as Clear Audio+ (automatic tuning of sound settings) and DSEE HX (optimises the sound of MP3 and AAC files), to the playing of lossless audio formats such as FLAC and a jack for digital noise cancellation headsets. These are however not included in the box, which comes with normal in-ears with the quality expected for this class. A new feature of the Xperia X is an individual sound profile that is automatically tailored to the connected headphones and the listening habits of the user. We have not noticed any significant effects and believe the approach pursued by HTC and Samsung of creating such profiles by means of a simple hearing test is more promising.
Cast in one piece
The Xperia X runs with the latest Android version 6.0.1; an update on the upcoming Android version N, which is expected in autumn 2016, is virtually certain – Sony is known for its excellent software support. This is also because the company prefers the user interface to blend with the native Android design and only makes slight customisations. Therefore, only slight programming efforts are required when Google releases a new version. The few extras that Sony implements are a real asset for the Android system. A Set-Up wizard makes it easy for Sony and Android newcomers to learn the specifics of the system and the phone. In addition, a well-crafted news app keeps users up to date on current events. At the same time, the interface matches perfectly the design and colour of the smartphone, creating a harmonious user experience – no other manufacturer does this as well as Sony. We were less impressed by the pre-installed apps, including Amazon Shopping and Sky Go, which unfortunately cannot be uninstalled, only disabled. Although only 19 GB are available from the 32 GB, storage is not a concern because it can easily be retrofitted via micro SD.
Extras with punch
In the Testlab, it put in an overall convincing performance. The wireless properties are outstanding in the UMTS and LTE network, the typical battery life of 7:39 hours is also above average: a day without a plug – maybe even a day and a half – is no problem for the Xperia X. Unfortunately, Sony has omitted a quick-charge feature and it takes about 2:15 hours to charge the 2620 mAh battery. On the brighter side, the company has integrated a special software of Qnovo that carefully controls the charging process and thus delays the battery's natural ageing process. While this is a real added value – the battery is built-in and cannot be simply replaced – it is not a unique feature that keeps rivals at bay. What remains is a stale aftertaste despite the very good test results: Compared with its predecessor, the Xperia X is barely an upgrade. Those who aren't deterred by this will be purchasing an exceptionally good and stylish smartphone.