Sony's experience in the photography industry gives the Xperia XA1 and its 23MP camera a significant leg up on the competition.
Smartphone manufacturers tend to put the vast majority of their marketing muscle behind their top-of-the-line handsets, so much so that many people have no idea that brands like Samsung, LG and Sony also produce a whole catalogue of more affordable smartphones in the mid-range and budget sections of the mobile market. These handsets typically pack performance and features commensurate with premium smartphones from just a year or two earlier, and thanks to the relentless pace mobile technology advances at, that's often more than sufficient for the average phone user.
It's in this section of the market that the Sony Xperia XA1 lies. Though it might be the less-powerful sibling of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, it's still a capable handset in its own right thanks to its powerful camera, 3GB of RAM and Android 7.0 operating system. Paired with its accessible price tag, this provides plenty of reason to consider the Sony Xperia XA1 when shopping for your next smartphone.
Boxy design is distinct but may not appeal to everyone
Android 8.0 update brings a slew of handy new features
Sony is one of the few smartphone manufacturers still designing handsets that look distinct rather than conforming to the standard curved, all-screen format currently dominating the industry. The Xperia XA1 is a prime example of this. Though its edges are rounded slightly for a more comfortable grip, its overall style is one of sharp lines and stern uniformity. While this gives the Xperia XA1 a more formidable profile, it's not going to be to everyone's tastes, and may even prove a little awkward to use if you've got smaller hands.
The other design choice likely to divide smartphone buyers is the large bezels on the top and bottom of the phone's face. In a market where borderless screens are fast becoming the norm, leaving so much space unused feels like something of a backwards step.
Still, you do get a reasonable amount of screen to play with on the Xperia XA1 – 5 inches, to be precise. Resolution is admittedly a little on the low side for a mid-range handset, clocking in at 1280 x 720 pixels – technically HD, but not full HD. Sony has used Gorilla Glass to protect the screen though, which is a nice addition for anyone concerned with scratches or the occasional drop.
The Xperia XA1 takes a far more familiar approach on the connectivity front. A 3.5mm audio jack allows you to plug in traditional wired headphones, while support for Bluetooth 4.2 lets you sync up wireless headsets and other Bluetooth devices. The 32GB of onboard storage gives you a decent chunk of space to install apps or store music and videos, and if that's not quite enough you can add as much as 256GB more via a microSD card.
Of course, hardware only tells part of the story. To make use of its various components, the Sony Xperia XA1 ships with Android 7.0, also known as "Nougat". Even better, Sony released an update to Android 8.0 "Oreo" in 2018, granting the Xperia XA1 new features like faster boot-up times, a picture-in-picture multi-tasking mode and more informative notifications that save you from constantly opening up apps to see what's new.
23MP rear camera provides a significant edge on similarly priced handsets
Wide-angle lenses make group shots easier
Sony's pitch with the Xperia XA1 is very much focused on its camera – specifically, the rear camera. This isn't much of a surprise given that Sony is the manufacturer behind the camera technology used by many competing smartphones, though the company maintains that it keeps the best of its technology for use in its own phones and devices.
It's a bold claim, but one that's supported by the impressive hardware inside the Xperia XA1. At the rear you'll find a 23MP Exmor RS sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, while the front camera packs an 8MP sensor with a 23mm wide-angle lens designed for group selfies. Both cameras make use of Sony's SteadyShot image stabilisation technology to avoid blurry action pictures, and the rear camera boasts a hybrid autofocus feature Sony claims will ensure even the quickest snaps come out clear and sharp.
Decent hardware places the Xperia XA1 smack bang in the centre of the mid-range pack
Shouldn't have any issues delivering a responsive experience in day-to-day use
Straying from the pack somewhat, Sony has gone with the eight-core MediaTek Helio P20 processor for the Xperia XA1 rather than using one of Qualcomm's more common Snapdragon chips. For the most part, however, the Helio P20 performs similarly to the Snapdragon 625, which places it in good company with mid-range handsets like the Huawei Nova Plus and the Motorola Moto G5 Plus. As you can see in our reviews of the aforementioned handsets, pairing the Snapdragon 625 with 3GB of RAM tends to deliver solid if unremarkable performance, and it's a safe bet that the Xperia XA1 with its Helio P20 processor would achieve the same.
In practice, this should ensure snappy performance in most general tasks, with only the most complex apps or games likely to give the Xperia XA1 any trouble.
2,300mAh is a little on the low side for a mid-range handset
Quick charging support minimises your downtime
Despite the extra space afforded by its large frame, the Xperia XA1 only packs a 2,300mAh battery. This is notably below average for your typical mid-range smartphone. The Motorola Moto G5 Plus and Huawei Nova Plus, for instance, feature 3,000mAh and 3,340mAh batteries respectively, and other similarly priced handsets rarely dip below 2,500mAh.
To make up for this, Sony has implemented a STAMINA mode that aims to increase battery life by disabling non-critical apps and services. Still, even with STAMINA mode activated there's a chance you may struggle to get a full day of use out of a single charge. On the plus side, the Xperia XA1 supports fast charging via the included quick charger. It also incorporates Qnovo Adaptive Charging, which monitors and adjusts voltage levels while charging to extend the overall lifespan of the Xperia XA1's battery.
Pricing and availability
Sony Xperia XA1
More camera than smartphone
Unleash your inner photographer with the Sony Xperia XA1 and its sharp 23MP camera.
The Sony Xperia XA1 is currently available for around $300 at online retailers like Kogan.
Matt Sayer is a writer for Finder, covering all things technology and telecommunications. Along with reporting on events like CES and Mobile World Congress, he has produced comprehensive guides for popular products like smart speakers and graphics cards. He has a Bachelor of Computer Science from RMIT University and is passionate about helping Aussies leverage technology to better their lives.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
Important information about this website
finder.com.au is one of Australia's leading comparison websites. We compare from a wide set of major banks, insurers and product issuers.
finder.com.au has access to track details from the product issuers listed on our sites. Although we provide information on the products offered by a wide range of issuers, we don't cover every available product. You should consider whether the products featured on our site are appropriate for your needs and seek independent advice if you have any questions.
Products marked as 'Promoted' or "Advertisement" are prominently displayed either as a result of a commercial advertising arrangement or to highlight a particular product, provider or feature. Finder may receive remuneration from the Provider if you click on the related link, purchase or enquire about the product. Finder's decision to show a 'promoted' product is neither a recommendation that the product is appropriate for you nor an indication that the product is the best in its category. We encourage you to use the tools and information we provide to compare your options and find the best option for you.
The identification of a group of products, as 'Top' or 'Best' is a reflection of user preferences based on current website data. On a regular basis, analytics drive the creation of a list of popular products. Where these products are grouped, they appear in no particular order.
Where our site links to particular products or displays 'Go to site' buttons, we may receive a commission, referral fee or payment.
We try to take an open and transparent approach and provide a broad based comparison service. However, you should be aware that while we are an independently owned service, our comparison service does not include all providers or all products available in the market.
Some product issuers may provide products or offer services through multiple brands, associated companies or different labelling arrangements. This can make it difficult for consumers to compare alternatives or identify the companies behind the products. However, we aim to provide information to enable consumers to understand these issues.
Providing or obtaining an estimated insurance quote through us does not guarantee you can get the insurance. Acceptance by insurance companies is based on things like occupation, health and lifestyle. By providing you with the ability to apply for a credit card or loan we are not guaranteeing that your application will be approved. Your application for credit products is subject to the Provider's terms and conditions as well as their application and lending criteria.