The Sony Xperia XA Ultra

The XA Ultra is built for our generation. It’s affordable, looks great, has great media and sound quality, and takes incredible selfies – beyond perfect for sharing.

Azriel 1 copy

When I first saw the XA Ultra, while marvelling at the design, I thought to myself, it must be a flagship. It isn’t actually but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a mid-range phone (the price of which has dropped significantly since launch) and yet it has an excellent showing in features most important to students

The look and feel

The XA Ultra has a huge, beautiful Six-inch screen to work with, yet surprisingly the form factor doesn’t feel much bigger than a 5.5” phone. This is thanks to the lack of side bezels. The screen flows straight into the curved metal edges of the phone. While we’re on the topic of those metal edges, it’s worth mentioning they give the XA ultra a premium very sturdy feel in your hand, while their curvature means the phone is still very comfortable to hold.

Back to the lack of side bezels – this means the phone is really narrow. Unlike most Six-inchers, you can hold it with one hand quite comfortably and it will easily slip into your pocket when you need to put it away quickly.

On a premium phone like this, you can expect the rest of the design to also be eye-catching – A glassy front paired with a satin finish polycarbonate back. The placement of the buttons, cameras and sensors are beautifully minimalistic.

Screen and User Experience

The display is easy on the eyes and yet gorgeous to look at. Not surprising considering Sony’s Bravia repertoire. Full 1080p HD here, so HD movies and other stuff you watch will render in all their glory. Sony’s built-in media apps are excellent compared to what most other manufacturers have to offer. Don’t be surprised if they become your go-to apps for music, movies and pics. The suite is certainly robust, as the gallery app links to a well-equipped photo editor, while the built-in Movie Creator lets you edit pics and videos together. There’s also a song recognition app which I enjoyed using more than what’s available on the play store. Usually, this stuff isn’t worth mentioning but I feel Sony has done it all so well here.

azriel 2

Lord of the Selfies

That title comes straight from GSM arena. They’re one of the most trusted sites that analyse smartphone technology out there. You can check them out for an in-depth review of the XA Ultra.

I’m a big fan of good picture quality, so when I tested the front facing camera in the first few minutes after I got the phone, I was blown away by the quality of the rendered selfie: crisp, vibrantly coloured with excellent dynamic range. After reading the GSM arena review, I’ve learned why. It had the best selfie camera on the market at launch. And yes, better than all the flagships.

And it’s not just stills the XA Ultra does well. Thanks to the built-in OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation the camera will keep focus if you’re recording and talking while walking. Not to mention looking great thanks to the camera’s great quality that records in Full HD. It truly looks as if the video was taken by someone walking backwards in front of you, and not the lower quality videos you expect from selfie cameras.

If anyone you know is looking to start a Youtube channel/video blog or takes selfies for a living, be a good friend and tell them about the XA Ultra. It, of course, didn’t get as much hype as a flagship at launch so not many will know about its gem of a front facing camera.

A great feature for photography enthusiasts, there’s a dedicated manual shutter button for taking pictures quickly and conveniently. It can be customised to work with either camera and work from standby.

I won’t mention much about the back camera. Sony has made the front facer the highlight of the XA ultra. Nevertheless, the 21.5 MP/Full HD back camera doesn’t disappoint and is a solid offering for a premium mid-range phone.

Sound quality

According to my brother, who is something of a music connoisseur, the XA Ultra’s loudspeaker has better sound quality than his flagship phone. ‘Nuff said.

Oh, and it’s also really loud.

Conclusion

When I was given the opportunity to review XA ultra, I wasn’t expecting to get this attached to it. It just looks so good, feels so good and does what it’s meant to so well.

If you’re a student and you don’t need your phone for power computing or pro-smartphone gaming (whatever the heck that is :P), the XA should be on your list of contenders. By the way, don’t go spending several thousand Rands extra on a phone just to play 3D games. A 3DS, PSVita or better yet a Switch is a more sensible investment. A phone should do what it’s meant to these days. Look and feel great, offer high levels of usability and help you record and share like a pro. The Xperia XA ultra does all of these things brilliantly and after my few days with it, I’d highly recommend it to any student

You can currently pick it up from Vodacom for R329pm including a monthly package of R200 minutes, 500 MBs of data, and 200 SMSs

If you’re looking to save with a smaller phone, the Xperia XA Ultra’s little brother, the Xperia XA, is an alternative for R229 pm on the same 200/500MB/200SMS package as the XA Ultra

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