The super mid-ranger comes in the form of the Xperia XA1 Plus, sitting alongside the XA1 and XA1 Ultra that launched earlier this year but adding a fingerprint sensor and beefy battery to the party.
Here are our first impressions of the XA1 Plus and its edgy display.
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Sony Xperia XA1 Plus preview: Design
- Metal design with rounded edges
- IP65/68 water and dust resistant
- Fingerprint sensor within power button
The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus offers an almost identical design to the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra that we saw at the end of February but with one key difference: a fingerprint sensor.
The Xperia XA1 Plus slots in between the XA1 and XA1 Ultra in terms of size, but where the previous models offered the older style circular side-mounted power button and no fingerprint sensor, the XA1 Plus adopts the newer oval-shaped side power button with a built-in fingerprint sensor, like the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact that it launches alongside.
Aside from that, the Xperia XA1 Plus could easily be mistaken for one of its other XA1 siblings. It offers the signature OmniBalance flat-slab design associated with lower-end to the flagship Xperia devices, along with large bezels at the top and bottom of the display and a rear camera lens in the top left corner.
Like the XA1 and XA1 Ultra, the XA1 Plus uses one piece of metal on the rear for a more fluid finish than the likes of the Xperia XZ and XZs, but it doesn't have the unibody design of the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact. Instead, joins can be found on the edges of the XA1 Plus though these edges are more rounded than they were on the XA1 and XA1 Ultra, making it more comfortable to hold, especially compared to the XA1 Ultra though this is down to physical size too.
The speakers and microphone are positioned at the very top and bottom of the XA1 Plus, as they are on the XA1 and XA1 Ultra, which allows for the continuation of a fuss-free design and like its siblings, the XA1 Plus sets itself apart from other Xperia devices thanks to the edge-to-edge display.
This feature sees the rounded edges of the XA1 Plus to curve into the display, though it's not quite as obvious a design feature as the dual-edge screen on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 or Note 8. The edge-to-edge display on the XA range has a more subtle finish with no software enhancement present, though it is preferable to the standard screen on the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact devices as it makes things more interesting.
The XA1 Plus adds IP65/68 water and dust resistance to the XA range too, something the XA1 and XA1 Ultra missed off their spec sheets earlier this year. It also has the familiar USB Type-C port at the bottom, a headphone jack at the top, camera launcher button on the right-hand side and a microSD and SIM slot covered by a flap on the left.
Sony Xperia XA1 Plus preview: Display
- 5.5-inch edge-to-edge display
- Full HD resolution, 401ppi
- No HDR, X-Reality or Triluminos
The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus comes with a 5.5-inch Full HD edge-to-edge display for a pixel density of 401ppi meaning it offers the sharpest display of all the XA range.
The edge-to-edge finish is one we loved the first time we saw it and we continue to do so, though we'd love it even more if it appeared on the flagship devices too rather than just the mid-rangers. It would also have been great to see those top and bottom bezels reduced too for an even more dramatic display, but alas, not this time.
The XA1 Plus screen appears to offer good enough vibrancy and crisp text, along with good viewing angles but we will reserve judgement until we have had the opportunity to test it properly in the real world.
There is no HDR on board the XA1 Plus, as there is with the Xperia XZ Premium and the recently-launched XZ1, meaning that while the size and finish of the display is good for entertainment, it doesn't offer the latest technology.
Sony also misses the X-Reality and Triluminos technologies found in the Xperia flagship models off the spec sheet for the Xperia XA1 Plus, though it does offer Super Vivid mode like previous XA devices so all is not lost.
Sony Xperia XA1 Plus preview: Cameras
- 23MP rear camera, f/2.0 aperture
- 8MP front camera
- No autofocus burst or smile shutter added to predictive capture feature
The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus is a mid-range handset, just like the XA1 and XA1 Ultra so sadly, the latest and greatest Sony features aren't on board, as we've just mentioned when discussing the display. They don't settle for mid-range specs either though.
The XA1 Plus comes with the same camera capabilities as the XA1, improving on last year's XA model but missing out on a few of the features found on the likes of the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, both of which also launch at IFA 2017.
A 23-megapixel rear camera is present on the rear with an f/2.0 aperture, coupled with an 8-megapixel sensor on the front. Features including Hybrid autofocus and SteadyShot are both on board, along with five times Clear Image Zoom, but you won't find the new autofocus burst mode, the smile shutter incorporated within the predictive capture feature or the super slow-motion video feature.
The XA1 Plus also misses out on the 3D Creator app, found on the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, allowing users to 3D scan objects for 3D printing or creating avatars. This isn't necessarily a feature everyone will want, as some might consider it a little gimmicky, but it's not available on the XA1 Plus so if you do want it and the latest camera technology, you'll need to look a little higher up the Xperia food chain.
We didn't get a chance to test the XA1 Plus camera during our brief amount of time with it but we will be sure to put it through its paces when we get our hands on it in the real world.
Sony Xperia XA1 Plus preview: Hardware and software
- MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core processor, 4GB RAM
- 32GB storage, microSD support
- 3430mAh battery
The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus has an octa-core MediaTek processor under its hood, coupled with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and microSD support for storage expansion.
It's the battery that really sets this Xperia device apart from the rest though, offering a 3430mAh capacity, which is larger than all the current XA devices, as well as larger than the XZ Premium, XZ1 and XZ1 Compact.
The XA1 Plus is charged via USB Type-C with Quick Charge supported and it comes with Sony's Stamina Mode, Qnovo Adaptive Charging technology and Battery Care software too so it really should see you through the day with that software and that capacity.
In terms of audio capabilities, the XA1 Plus comes with Sony's ClearAudio+ technology and Smart Amplifier, which have been designed to deliver loud and clear sound. Users can customise their sound experience and adjust settings too in order to find the right balance for you.
We of course didn't get a chance to test either the performance, sound or the battery life of the XA1 Plus during our time with it but we will do as soon as it comes in for review.
The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus will launch on Android Nougat with Sony's software over the top. Sony adds more bloatware on top of Android than other manufacturers like HTC and even Samsung these days, but the Sony launcher is nice and pretty useful, offering not only search functionality but suggested apps too. Users should also see an update to Android Oreo when Sony makes the update available.
The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus might only be a mid-range handset, but it offers good specs, like the introduction of the fingerprint sensor and a huge battery that should more than see you through the day, especially if you take into account Sony's previous battery reputation.
The edge-to-edge display might not be as extravagant as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or the Galaxy S8, and the large bezels at the top and bottom of the screen on the Sony certainly take away some of the edgy charm, but it's still a nice feature to offer on a mid-range device and one we wish we'd see on the Xperia flagship devices.
We've always been a fan of the XA range and the XA1 Plus gets our love too. On paper, it shows a lot of promise and it is up there with the most exciting Xperia devices. If Sony could just give us a unibody design, the Motion Eye camera and slimmer bezels at the top and bottom of the XA1 Plus display, it could be a real Xperia winner in our eyes.