Sony 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?
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:
Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 11:55:00 7150 Huawei Mate 8 11:14:40 6659 Sony Xperia X 10:40:40 6406 Samsung Galaxy S7 10:01:20 6013 Samsung Galaxy Note 5 9:18:00 5580 Huawei P9 8:26:30 4948 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 8:24:10 5041 Apple iPhone 6S Plus 7:48:10 4681 LG G5 7:36:10 4561 iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case 7:21:10 4407 HTC 10 6:54:30 4145 Sony Xperia X Performance 6:46:51 4068 Google Nexus 6P 6:39:20 3754
- 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:
Handset Geekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better) Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 2169 6446 Huawei P9 1736 6357 Samsung Galaxy S7 2156 6240 Huawei Mate 8 1738 6092 LG G5 2305 5243 Sony Xperia X Performance 1988 5198 Sony Xperia Z5 2076 5165 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 1492 4893 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 1324 4626 Google Nexus 6P 1251 4597 Samsung Galaxy S6 1347 4569 HTC One X9 892 4558 Apple iPhone SE 2538 4455 Apple iPhone 6S 2540 4410 Apple iPhone 6S Plus 2491 4391 HTC 10 1942 4191 Sony Xperia Z5 1358 4134 Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1111 3686 Sony Xperia X 1452 3499
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:
Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result LG G5 29597 Apple iPhone SE 29276 Samsung Galaxy S7 28903 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 28402 Apple iPhone 6s 28171 HTC 10 27392 Sony Xperia X Performance 26125 Google Nexus 6P 24703 Sony Xperia Z5 19197 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus 17981 Huawei Mate 8 17947 HTC One X9 16877 Sony Xperia X 16648
- 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.