By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
Sony comes up with a mid-level smartphone that certainly packs a punch
An affordable smartphone with a good quality camera and acceptable performance, the Sony Xperia XA1 Plus costs less than half of the company’s new flagship XZ1. So what do you get for your money and is it worth it? In short, yes, with a few provisos, the first being that it’s not blazing fast. Sony says it’s able to keep the price of XA1 Plus low – a touch under Bt11,000 – because it uses a cheaper CPU from MediaTek as opposed to the expensive flagship CPU from Qualcomm.
The XA1 Plus is powered by MediaTek helio P20 Octa Core 64-bit processor with four cores running at 2.3GHz and the other four at 1.6GHz. During the test, I didn’t feel the P20-based XA1 Plus was slow. Most tasks and apps ran well. The menus and touch-screen were responsive. And HD video clips and High-Resolution Audio files played smoothly.
The XA1 Plus is equipped with 4 gigabytes of working memory or RAM. It has 32GB of internal storage, using eMMC storage type, which is cheaper than the UFS type used in upmarket smartphones. The XA1 Plus has 5.5-inch Full HD display with 1080×1920-pixel resolution. The display is large and more than adequate for viewing photos and HD video clips.
During the test, I enjoyed watching HD clips from YouTube and HD programmes on the TrueVisions Anywhere app. The XA1 Plus provides two nano SIM slots and a separate microSD expansion slot. So you can use two SIM cards at the same time and still have a slot for expanding the internal storage.
The ability to double as a Hi-Res Audio music player makes the XA1 Plus worth buying. I tested its music playback with Sony MDR1ABT Hi-Res Audio headphones and the songs sounded great with good details of the musical instruments and powerful bass.
To augment music quality, Sony uses Smart Amp and ClearAudio+ technologies with the XA1 Plus, enhancing the loudness and clarity of the music. The XA1 Plus also has fast Internet connection.
I tested it on TrueMove H’s LTE 4G network. Downloading apps was fast and my snapshots were backed up to my Google Photos cloud storage in no time. I used Ookla Speedtest app to measure the connection speed and found that the XA1 Plus had a download speed of 57.49 Mbps and upload speed of 32.34 Mbps.
The XA1 Plus can also function as a good quality compact camera thanks to its large 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS for mobile sensor with 23-megapixel resolution.
That means the sensor is as large as the image sensors used in many compact digital cameras. Since the Exmor RS is a back-illuminated CMOS image sensor and the camera itself is equipped with a bright f/2.0 lens, the XA1 Plus can capture good quality shots even in low-light environments. Moreover, it comes with Steady-Shot technology that allows the camera to capture clear, smooth videos even when you’re on the move.
The XA1 Plus also provides a dedicated button that launches the camera in just 0.6 seconds. When you press the Quick Launch button, the XA1 Plus is ready to take the shot also in 0.6 seconds. The button can also be used as the shutter button, making it convenient for selfies.
The main camera uses 24mm equivalent lens and captures surprisingly good landscape shots. It comes with several shooting modes, including Manual and Superior Auto. I used the Superior Auto mode during the test and was impressed at the way the camera analysed the scene then selected appropriate scene modes for me, resulting in good quality, sharp and clean shots in most cases. The main camera also has good low-light performance as it supports up to ISO6400 sensitivity.
Its front camera has a 1/4-inch Exmor R sensor with 8 MP-resolution and 23mm equivalent wide-angle lens with f2/0 lens. During the test, we enjoyed taking selfies shots inside The Nation newsroom and were pleased with the results. The front camera is also good for taking group selfies. The XA1 Plus also comes with a finger print reader embedded on the power button on the right, which allows you to secure your phone and unlock it with your right thumb. I checked it out and had no problem in unlocking the phone with my right thumb.
The 3430 mAh capacity battery is large enough to ensure good battery life. Moreover, the XA1 Plus uses Battery Care technology to protect your phone from overcharging and increase its lifespan.
It also uses Qnovo Adaptive Charging to adjust charging currents to expand battery life. The XA1 Plus also comes with Smart Cleaner that automatically deactivates the apps you don’t use and clears the cache, to optimise storage and memory as well as saving your battery.
The Xperia XA1 Plus has a premium look and feel. With rounded borders and stylish details, it feels smooth and fits the hand perfectly. It is available in Moonlit Blue, Black, Silver and Venus Pink and retails for Bt10,990.
KEY SPECS: Sony Xperia XA1 Plus
– OS: Android 7
– Networks: GSM GPRS/EDGE (2G), UMTS HSPA+ (3G), LTE (4G) Cat6
– CPU: MediaTek helio P20 Octa Core 64bit (Quad Core 2.3GHz + Quad Core 1.6GHz)
– Memory: 4GB
– Storage: 32 GB eMMC, expandable with microSD by up to 256 GB
– Display: 5.5-inch full HD 1080p, protected with Corning Gorilla Glass
– SIM: Dual nanoSIM
– Cameras: Main: 23MP 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS seensor, 24mm, f/2.0 lens; Front: 8MP Exmor R sensor with 23mm wide-angle f/2.0 lens
– Connectivity: AGNSS (GPS + GLONASS), Wi-Fi Miracast, Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology, Google Cast NFC, USB Type-C
– Sound: SmartAmp, Clear Audio+, Stereo Recording, Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology, aptX / A2DP
– Battery: 3430 mAh with Qnovo Adaptive Charging and Quick Charging (MediaTek Pump Express Plus 2.0)
– Dimensions: 155 x 75 x 8.7 mm
– Weight: 190g