You may have heard by now that Sony announced a new line of Xperia devices at Mobile World Congress, called the X series.
The range has three smartphones within it comprising the Xperia X, Xperia XA and the Xperia X Performance. This latter model is the most interesting though, despite the somewhat muted coverage of it in comparison to its siblings.
The Xperia X Performance wasn't on full display at Sony's stand at the show, like the other two handsets were. It is however a flagship-specced device with the same metal and glass design as the Xperia X and Xperia XA and it is without a doubt the one to watch. Here is why.
Sony Xperia X Performance design
The Sony Xperia X Performance is beautiful. The build quality is fantastic and the new materials used on the X series really pop on the device. It is everything we never knew we wanted from the Xperia devices.
Like the Xperia X and Xperia XA, the X Performance features a metal, metallic rear, along with a glass front. It measures 8.7mm slim and hits the scales at 165g, which feels like a good weight in the hand - heavy enough to give it substance but not too heavy that it would weigh your pockets down.
The metal delivers a premium feel that's really nice to hold and its size makes it ideal for one hand. There is an etched Xperia logo on the rear that is simple but sophisticated and the rear camera lens is trimmed with a metal ring, which also contributes to the premium appeal.
In terms of shape, it's almost identical to the flagship Xperia Z5 and it also comes with same waterproofing standard of IP68 and IP65. The oblong side power button is present with the built-in fingerprint sensor, along with the slightly curved metal edges. The corners have a slightly shinier metal, presumably down to reinforcement, but they aren't as obvious as they were on the Xperia Z3.
We really liked the Xperia X and the Xperia XA, but there is something about the Xperia X Performance that makes it feel special. It feels and looks distinctly like you'd expect a flagship device from Sony to.
Sony Xperia X Performance display
The Sony Xperia X Performance comes with a 5-inch display, just like the Xperia X and Xperia XA, meaning it is slightly smaller than the flagship Xperia Z5. It's not edge-to-edge like the Xperia XA which is a shame as we love the design there, and it offers a Full HD resolution like most Xperia device, bar the Xperia Z5 Premium and its 4K display. Sony doesn't do 2K as it believes you can't notice the difference at that size and the compromise of battery life isn't worth it.
The display has Sony's Triluminos technology on board and it's nice and vibrant with good viewing angles from our brief experience with it. We don't pass judgement on the display until we have reviewed a device in full, but from what we have seen, the X Performance appears to be promising. It also seemed a little brighter than the Xperia X and Xperia XA, although this may just be our eyes playing tricks on us.
Sony Xperia X Performance camera
The Sony Xperia X series was all about design, camera and battery. Sony wanted to offer a range of devices that delivered what consumers needed from their smartphones and it considers these three things to be fundamental.
The Xperia Z5's sensor therefore makes its way onto the Xperia X Performance, meaning a 23-megapixel rear snapper with ISO 12800 and a 24mm wide G Lens. There is HDR and Superior Auto+ on board, as well as the dedicated camera button on the side of the device for quick launch. Sony has also introduced a feature called Predictive Hybrid Auto Focus for the Xperia X Performance and the Xperia X, whereby movements is tracked and predicted to ensure moments aren't missed.
There is also a 13-megapixel front sensor on the X Performance, which is a higher resolution than the flagship Z5. The front camera has a 22mm wide-angle lens and offers sensitivity up to ISO 6400, along with HDR meaning the same specs as the Xperia X.
We didn't get a chance to test the camera performance of the Xperia X Performance as this requires the real world rather than trade show world, but the movement tracking feature seemed to work very well from what we saw. Given the X Performance doesn't have final software on board yet, we'd say this is a good start.
Sony Xperia X Performance hardware
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor sits under the hood of the Xperia X Performance, coupled with 32GB of internal memory and microSD for storage expansion up to 200GB. Although we weren't able to test its performance properly, during the brief amount of time we had with the X Performance it seemed quick and sleek to operate, as you would expect from the SD820.
Both LG and Samsung's new flagships opt for this chip and we would expect the next Xperia flagship to as well when it launches later in the year. We suspect the Xperia X Performance is therefore a good indication of what to expect from the next flagship.
A 2700mAh battery capacity is said to offer two days life, although this is of course another element we can't test in a hands on. Other hardware features include LTE Cat9, Bluetooth 4.2, digital noise cancelling and DSEE HX for upscaling audio.
Sony Xperia X Performance software
As we mentioned, the model of the Sony Xperia X Performance we saw does not feature final software, just like the Xperia X and Xperia XA. It will come with Android Marshmallow from launch with Sony's software overlaid on top.
The next Xperia flagship is due to launch in the latter half of this year and if it looked just like the Xperia X Performance with the same specs, it wouldn't be disappointing. In fact, Sony could easily just relabel this device and maybe it will.
The design of the Xperia X Performance is stunning. The metal build really sets the OmniBalance shape off and the extra touches like the metal rim around the rear camera lens make this device feel like a premium handset.
Should we be looking at the Xperia X Performance's specs and design as an indication of the next Xperia flagship? It's entirely possible. The X Performance is the Sony smartphone everyone should be talking about.