Sony Xperia X Review

Alex Kidman 2 August 2016

Xperia X review

Sony’s Xperia X has good battery life, but it needs more to really stand out in the crowded midrange Android space.

The Sony Xperia X is the difficult "middle child" of Sony’s Xperia X series. It’s not quite as premium, or as premium-priced as the Sony Xperia X Performance, but it’s not quite as budget-friendly as the Xperia XA either. Priced at $899, the Xperia X is meant to be the bedrock of the Xperia X family which essentially replaces the older Xperia Z family in Sony’s Android lineup. But does it live up to that billing?

SonyXperia X
Screen size5in
ProcessorSnapdragon 650
Rear camera23MP
Front camera13MP
Display density440ppi


Upsides: Why you’d want the Sony Xperia X

  • Clean design: The Xperia X isn’t quite the looker that the Xperia X Performance is, but it’s equally not quite as cheap-looking as the Xperia XA. The design is smooth although some of the colour choices are, depending on your tastes, questionable. More on that below.
  • Good battery life: We were notably disappointed in the battery life of the Xperia X Performance, but the slight step down in processors has made the Xperia X a true contender in this space. Anecdotally it’s easy to get a day’s worth of battery life out of it, and in the Geekbench 3 battery test, with screen dimming enabled the Xperia X shines:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge11:55:007150
    Huawei Mate 811:14:406659
    Sony Xperia X10:40:406406
    Samsung Galaxy S710:01:206013
    Samsung Galaxy Note 59:18:005580
    Huawei P98:26:304948
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    LG G57:36:104561
    iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case7:21:104407
    HTC 106:54:304145
    Sony Xperia X Performance6:46:514068
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
  • Integrated side fingerprint scanner: Sony continues its trend of side-mounted fingerprint scanners. It’s a really sensible spot for a fingerprint scanner for verification and unlocking purposes, and it works well on the Xperia X.
  • Good camera optics: Sony makes the vast majority of camera optics for smartphones you’re likely to buy, excluding a few outliers such as the Huawei P9. It shouldn’t be a shock then that it saves the good stuff for its own phones. The Xperia X’s autofocus is fast, and the inclusion of a dedicated shutter button makes it easier to eliminate camera shake while taking shots.


Downsides: Why you might not want the Sony Xperia X

  • No waterproofing: Waterproofing was a feature of the Z series phones, but in 2016 Sony’s decided it’s a feature that you’ll only find in the Xperia X performance.
  • Performance isn’t its strong suit: The Snapdragon 650 processor in the Xperia X is a step below the Snapdragon 820 found in the Xperia X Performance, and that’s fair enough; the Xperia X Performance is meant to be the pinnacle of Sony’s flagship range. The issue is that, for an $899 smartphone, the Xperia X just isn’t that nippy. We hit instances of application lag in real life, and this was backed up by the Xperia X’s benchmark performance in Geekbench 3:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge21696446
    Huawei P917366357
    Samsung Galaxy S721566240
    Huawei Mate 817386092
    LG G523055243
    Sony Xperia X Performance19885198
    Sony Xperia Z520765165
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    HTC One X98924558
    Apple iPhone SE25384455
    Apple iPhone 6S25404410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    HTC 1019424191
    Sony Xperia Z513584134
    Samsung Galaxy Note 511113686
    Sony Xperia X14523499

    The Xperia Z5 – last year’s phone – outpaces the Xperia X, and that’s not a good thing.

    The same issue is present in gaming benchmarks, with the Xperia X being outperformed, often by quite a margin, by the rest of the premium or high mid-range smartphone pack:

    Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    LG G529597
    Apple iPhone SE29276
    Samsung Galaxy S728903
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge28402
    Apple iPhone 6s28171
    HTC 1027392
    Sony Xperia X Performance26125
    Google Nexus 6P24703
    Sony Xperia Z519197
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus17981
    Huawei Mate 817947
    HTC One X916877
    Sony Xperia X16648
  • Front-mounted NFC: Like the Xperia X Performance and Xperia XA, Sony's opted to put the NFC chip on the front of the Xperia X. It points this out with a sticker, so you can't miss that it's there, but the problem with this is that for contactless payments such as Android Pay, it means you can't see the screen when you make a payment.
  • Not quite mid-range pricing: The Xperia X sits between the Xperia X Performance and the Xperia XA, but its pricing suggests a much stronger lean towards the performance side of the equation. That’s a hard sell at this particular price point. Many of the competing flagships can be had outright at these kinds of prices, offering superior performance than the Xperia X can afford.


Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

Sony has tried for a three tier strategy for the Xperia X series, with the Xperia XA as the budget alternative and the Xperia X Performance as the true "premium" phone. Unfortunately for the Xperia X that really does make it the difficult middle child, especially considering that $899 price tag. That kind of money could relatively easily pick you up the LG G5, HTC 10 or even appreciably close to the excellent Samsung Galaxy S7 if you can find a good deal.

There’s nothing hugely "wrong" with the Xperia X, but at $899 we’d want more for our money than the Xperia X can deliver. Sony’s nicely evolved its visual design processes with the X series phones, but beyond looking nice in the hand there just isn’t enough there in day to day use to get excited about.

Where can I get it?

Sony sells the Xperia X through its online store. It’s also available on contract exclusively through Vodafone.

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