I NEVER realised how dependent I have become on the fingerprint recognition feature in a smartphone until I reviewed the Sony Xperia XA1.
The lack of easy accessibility is one of XA1’s shortcomings, but this slight inconvenience is made bearable with Google Android’s Smart Lock feature.
The phone automatically unlocks when it detects the user’s voice, though I only use the feature that unlocks the phone when it is connected to my car’s Bluetooth.
Just to be clear, I do not use my phone while driving – because Oprah Winfrey hates that, and I would never do anything to make her angry (and also because it’s illegal and dangerous).
The smartphone is an upgrade of the Xperia XA launched last year, and the XA1 features a few notable improvements in the main camera, memory and storage departments.
Look and feel
The XA1 sure does look nice with a sleek body, but do be careful as it easily slips without a casing.
On the positive side, there is nary a scratch on the screen – thanks to the Corning Gorilla Glass, though I must note that the smartphone only fell on carpeted floors and my face.
The volume, power and camera buttons are lined up on the right side of the phone, while the left side houses the SIM card tray which accepts two nano SIM cards and a microSD card (up to 256GB supported).
The XA1 has the same specs for the screen as its predecessor – a 5in edge-to-edge 720p screen.
This seems a little dated for a 2017 phone – since other brands are offering a minimum resolution of 1080p for their mid-range models – but perhaps the upside is that the XA1’s 2,300mAh battery lasts longer due to this.
A fully charged battery can last for over a day – provided that you don’t run games or videos extensively.
When the battery reduces to 15% of charge, the phone automatically activates the Stamina mode that prolongs battery time by disabling some functions of the device.
But if you’re super desperate to save battery power, then activate the Ultra Stamina Mode, but it will limit the number of apps you can use.
The XA1 has a USB Type-C connector and uses Qnovo PumpExpress 2.0 quick charging technology. It runs on a MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core processor with 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage.
Since I am not a hardcore gamer, the most intense game I played on the XA1 was Super Mario Run – and it was intense because I never was close to saving the darn princess.
The phone didn’t show any signs of lagging and with a pixel density of 294ppi, Mario didn’t look too bad either.
The XA1 has a 23-megapixel Exmor RS sensor with predictive hybrid autofocus and Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilisation.
This is an improvement from its predecessor’s 13-megapixel camera, though the front camera still remains an 8-megapixel deal.
Users can choose to shoot using the manual setting – with limited functions, or take the easier route by using the Superior Auto mode for good quality images.
Pictures turned out sharp, though over-sharpness can be detected in some images.
The 5x Clear Image Zoom takes pretty good images from afar, but steady hands – or a tripod – are required for best results.
The Sony Xperia XA1 is a mid-range phone with a decent front camera, commendable battery life and an overall fuss-free feel.
The affordable RM1,199 price tag is also a welcome figure, and the smartphone comes in white, black, pink and gold.
PROS: Decent main camera; long battery life.
CONS: No fingerprint sensor; slippery without casing.
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 7.0 Nougat
DISPLAY: 5in (1,280 x 720 pixels)
CAMERA: 23-megapixel rear camera; 8-megapixel front camera
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, NFC
PROCESSOR: MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core (quad-core 2.3GHz + quad-core 1.6GHz)
MEMORY: 32GB internal storage, 3GB RAM
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 67 x 8 x 145mm
RATING: Three stars
Review unit courtesy of Sony Malaysia Sdn Bhd, 1300-88-1233