The front runner in Sony’s revamped X series line up – But does it ‘Perform’?
The X Performance is Sony’s challenge to the top end flagship segment and the best phone in their new X series line up. Many of us were a little bemused when we saw the X released with its mid tier processor and this is really the phone Sony fans have been waiting for.
You can probably guess from the name the difference between this device and the X, yep that’s right, the performance. This handset packs the Snapdragon 820 processor not a 600 series chip so expect multitasking and gaming to be much improved in this device.
- 64 bit quad-core processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
- 3Gb RAM
- Android 6.0.1
- 23MP rear camera with Predictive Hybrid Autofocus
- 5.0″ Inch 1080 x 1920p Full HD display
- LTE Cat 9 support
- 32GB storage & micro SD support up to 200GB
- Hi-Res audio support
- Fingerprint sensor
I did have a serious case of deja vu when first opening the box to the X Performance as it is practically identical to the Xperia X and even the biggest Sony fans out there would struggle to notice the difference. This lasted until you pick the device up as its thicker and this is noticeable in the hand, the X is 142.7 x 69.4 x 7.9 mm and the performance 143.7 x 70.4 x 8.7 mm. So its 1mm wider and taller and just under 1mm thicker, so you can only really notice the thickness when you handle the device.
The X series all come with the slight curved screen, that gives the device a really nice look and feel. In terms of hardware keys we have the power button with integrated fingerprint sensor on the side along with the dedicated camera button and volume rocker.
On handling the device the first thing I really did notice is the weight, this phone is heavy at 164.4g, to give you an idea in comparison the S7 is 152g which may not sound like a lot but you do notice it. This might bother some but for me its reassuring as the phone feels like a high quality product and very well made, however others may not feel the same so its down to personal preference.
Waterproofing is something that is back in the X performance. Ok, it didn’t really go but the X and the XA in this new series from Sony don’t have an IP rating so it’s nice to see they kept it in one of the devices. The rating is the standard IP65/68 rating which means you can submerge the device up to 1.5m for up to 30 minutes. However in Sony’s disclaimers they say not to fully submerge the device so its clearly not a feature they are looking to push.
The display on the X performance is a 5.0″ Inch 1080 x 1920 Full HD screen and brings with it technology from Sony’s Bravia TV range such as Tri-luminos and X reality. This all makes for great viewing, as the display is crystal clear and colour reproduction is very good. Some users were probably expecting a 2K display but on a 5 inch display 1080p is still very good and all your videos and media will look great on the device
Performance & Software
This is perhaps the most important part of the review as is in the name of this handset. We don’t often look at bench marking here at Clove and focus more on our impressions and the fluidity of the device has when we use it, however for this handset I felt it was appropriate to touch on it. You can find the full benchmarking results and how it ranks against its competitors on plenty of websites.
With a 64 bit quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor under the hood, the X performance did well and kept up with perhaps its biggest rival the Samsung S7 and its other competitors like the LG G5 and HTC 10, with not much to choose between these. This is a good result for Sony as if they hadn’t delivered here then it would have been extremely difficult to justify the price tag that comes with this phone, so they can breathe a sigh of relief after those results came in.
In terms of hands on experience with the device the X performance is good and can easily handle anything you throw at it. Heavy gaming was fine and multitasking was no problem at all, so whatever your intended use would be for this device, the Performance wouldn’t have any problems. The user interface and user experience is very fluid, with Android features taking front and centre with just some Sony overlay and pre-loaded apps.
The device comes with Android 6.0.1 and you’ll be left with just 18.98GB out of the 32GB which isn’t good at all in all honestly. The main reason you are losing all this memory is because the Android system takes up a whopping 11.79GB, so the Sony overlay although doesn’t drastically change the device is clearly a big add on to the Stock Android Marshmallow. You can free up about 1GB by deleting the videos, photos and some preloaded apps that let you so you can get about 20GB usable from the device which is better but still not great.
Its a good job you can pop an SD card in and that it supports up to 200GB, so although your internal memory isn’t that impressive memory is rarely an issue when you have SD cards so it’s not a deal breaker.
We all know what Sony can do when it comes to cameras and they’ve done it again with X performance and bettered the Z5 camera that was already very good. The device has a 23MP rear camera and a 13MP front facing camera, both are kitted out with technology from Sony’s camera division.
They have fixed the camera boot time which is pretty much instant now as it did lag a little on the Z5. The cameras focus around speed doesn’t end there, with a capture speed of less that 0.6 seconds, faster image processing, and Hybrid Autofocus which tracks moving objects. In fact Sony put there camera through its paces and the Performance out performed all leading global competitors, so at the time of this review this device delivers the most accurate autofocus performance on a moving object.
If you use your smartphone to take lots of pictures then this device is really worth looking into as I’m yet to use a camera which outperforms it, although the Samsung’s and HTC’s do come close, for me the Performance just tips it. DxOMark, who are experts in the camera and imagery sector gave the device a score of 88 which is very impressive and places it at the top of the pile along with Samsung S7 Edeg and HTC 10. You can read about their testing HERE
Below are some shots I took in superior auto mode which as default shoots in 8MP in 16:9, the results are very good and in my opinion better than the X despite the phones being practically identical. I imagine this is down to the way the image is processed in the Performance over the X.
Video was also great on the X Performance, with color rendering being very good and there was brilliant noise reduction so every video looked great. The autofocus also works very well in videos with tracking doing a great job to keep focus and it also adjusted very well when zooming whilst recording.
Sony’s SteadyShot stabilisation is also very good and something that has always impressed me, it also seems to be improving with each new device they release so videos don’t have the terrible shake. Overall the camera in this device really impressed me, It would have been nice to have a slo-mo mode but I can live without that and if it I means I get a camera as good the X performance its an easy trade off.
The Performance has a 2700mAh battery which is fairly good until you realise that the S7 managed to pack 3000mAH in a lighter and slimmer device. So it looks as though Sony’s other hardware components look to have taken up more room which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just as long as Sony keep up their good name in efficient, long lasting battery. The experience I had with the phone is that it got me through a day and a half comfortably which is a good battery life for my usage however its competitors do perform better when it comes to things like video playback.
For the average user, this phone will give you a good amount of usage and would handle a day of heavy use no problem, so I can’t mark the X performance down when it comes to battery life. The device does also support quick charge, however it only supports Quick Charge 2.0 not Quick Charge 3.0 like we see on many other flagships with the 820 under the hood. There is good news as the UK model that Clove will be selling does come with the Quick Charger UCH10 in box which is a nice touch from Sony, so you’ll be able to get 5 and half usage from just 10 minutes charge which is very good.
These days all flagships have the connectivity that you need and the X Performance is no different. The device has you covered across 2G, 3G and 4G compatibility with support for up to CAT 9 LTE which although isn’t widely available everywhere it certainly future proofs the device. The Performance comes with NFC much like previous Sony devices however just like they have with the X the tag has moved to the front in the top left hand corner. This to me seems strange and the rear panel from which it has moved from seems like the more natural place, I assume there is a reason for this, perhaps changes to the internal hardware layout has forced Sony’s hand. Whatever the case it isn’t the biggest issue but I did prefer the old layout on the Z5 lineup.
So has Sony’s front runner won any races? – Well for me it has definitely won the camera race, its very good and if a good camera is the deciding factor for you when looking to purchase your next device then I recommend checking out the X Performance.
The device is also great looking and the famous Xperia design has been hit with some nice tweaks, the only negative is that the phone is a bit heavy but other than its stylish and feels comfortable in the hand. It also performs very well in multitasking and gaming with the device really living up to its name and comfortably going toe to toe with other flagships in this sector.
Battery life, surprisingly for a Sony device which are often renowned for the battery life was a little disappointing and I was hoping for more in this area perhaps at least a 3,000 mAh battery, however it isn’t bad in any way and most users will be very happy with the Stamina of this device.
In conclusion the X Performance is a very good phone and Sony’s revamped X series line up has kicked off to great start with this product, so those of you in the market for your next flagship don’t forget about this device. I hope that the X series starts as it means to go on and we see great products like the X Performance in the future as this is what we expect to see from Sony, only time will tell but for now, Z is dead, bring on the X.