(Pocket-lint) - Sony used Mobile World Congress to announce a new series of smartphones that will sit below the flagship Z line and above the mid-range M line.
The Xperia X series features three handsets - the Xperia X, the Xperia XA and the Xperia X Performance. The latter doesn't currently have a price or availability information, but the Xperia XA and Xperia X now do, with the X arriving in May for £499, followed by the XA in June for £239.
It is worth keeping in mind that the devices on the Sony stand at MWC were not final hardware or software but here are our first impressions of the Xperia XA. If you want to read about the Xperia X, you can see what we thought in our separate hands on, and you can also read our opinion on the Xperia X Performance too.
Sony Xperia XA design
The Sony Xperia XA features a very similar design to previous Xperia devices but like the Xperia X, it opts for different materials compared to others. The same OmniBalance design is on board, but Sony has wrapped the aluminium edges round to the rear on the XA, like it did on the X.
The front of the Xperia XA is covered in glass, again like the Xperia X, adding to the premium appeal. The combination of more metal and glass gives the new smartphone a more premium feel that is lovely and comfortable to hold and the four metallic finishes look great.
While the Xperia X adopts design cues from the flagship Xperia Z5 with its oblong side power button and built-in fingerprint sensor, the Xperia XA follows some cues from the previous Xperia Z devices. The circular side button makes its return, a feature that now feels a little dated, but the same dedicated camera buttons and volume controls sit happily on the curved edges like the X and Z5.
Aside from the power button, which presumably is back to circular due to the absence of the fingerprint sensor on the XA, the two X series devices look almost identical. This means the XA still pulls in the refinements from the various generations of the Xperia devices, which is nice.
The speakers and microphone also move to the very edge of the top and bottom of the Xperia XA, compared to being placed on the bezel above and beneath the display like they are on the X. The main distinguishing feature of the XA is the edge-to-edge display though.
Sony Xperia XA display
The Sony Xperia XA comes with a 5-inch edge-to-edge display which looks fab. We have criticised Sony in the past for offering too much bezel around its smartphone displays so to see so much more screen and so much less phone is an absolute pleasure.
The resolution is lower than the Xperia X at 1280 x 720 pixels for a pixel density of 294ppi. It has something called Super Vivid mode on board but there doesn't appear to be any mention of Triluminos or X-Reality, both technologies of which are found on the X and the Z5.
Despite the slightly lower resolution however, the display seemed to do well enough. We won't pass judgement until we review the device in full but apart from not being as bright as we might have hoped for, it seemed capable and the design is great.
Sony Xperia XA camera
The Sony Xperia XA comes with a 13-megapixel main camera, coupled with an 8-megapixel front camera, meaning a slightly lower spec than the Xperia X.
There are a couple of similar features that transfer across though including Hybrid Autofocus with Object Tracking, meaning you shouldn't miss any good moment, theoretically.
The main camera also offers HDR and 5x Clear Image Zoom while the front camera incorporates a wide-angle lens like the Xperia X does, as well as autofocus.
We weren't able to test the camera performance out during our short amount of time with the Xperia XA but we will be sure to do so when it comes in for full review.
Sony Xperia XA hardware
The Sony Xperia XA features the octa-core MediaTek MT6755 processor, supported by 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory with microSD support.
As with the camera and display, performance isn't something that can be tested before reviewing it in full but from the small amount of time we spent with the XA, it seemed to operate nice and smoothly.
Sony has placed a focus on battery life with the Xperia XA, like it has also done with the X and its other Xperia devices. There is a 2300mAh capacity under the hood of the Xperia XA, which Sony claims will last two days thanks to the management software.
Again, we weren't able to test the battery life of course but we will put it through its paces when we get it in for full review. In terms of audio, the Xperia XA has something called Clear Audio+ but it doesn't offer Hi-Res or digital noise cancelling like the Xperia X and Xperia Z5.
Sony Xperia XA software
The Sony Xperia XA will launch with Andorid Marshmallow when it arrives on 10 June with Sony's own software overlay on top.
As the Xperia XA on the stand was not final software, we aren't able to go into detail on what it will offer. The Xperia X features PS4 Remote Play but it looks like the Xperia XA might not offer this feature.
The Sony Xperia XA might not be as highly specced as the Xperia X, but that's not to say it doesn't have its talking points.
We really like the design of the X series. The combination of metal and glass works well and makes the range seem more flagship than mid-range.
Overall, apart from the design refinements, the most exciting thing about the Xperia XA is its edge-to-edge display. It might not be the highest of resolutions but the feature itself is something we would love to see appear on the Xperia Z6.