I’ve been a fan of Sony smartphones for the past five years, particularly the Z-series flagships. Each new entry in Sony’s line of flagship models has brought its own disappointments and triumphs, but I’ve never had the chance to test the company’s mid-range offerings – or at least I hadn’t, until I walked into the wall that is the Sony XA1 Ultra, the HUGE, upgraded version of the XA1.

Technical specifications

Dimensions: 165x79x8.1mm

Weight: 188g

Chipset: MediaTek helio P20 MT6757

CPU: octa-core (4 x 2.3GHz Cortex-A53 + 4 x 1.6GHz Cortex-A53)

GPU: Mali-T880 MP2

Operating system: Android 7.0 (Nougat)

Price and supplier information
Supplier: Sony
Website: www.sonymobile.com
RRP: R8,999

Coming in at a whopping 16cm tall and 8cm wide, the XA1 Ultra definitely doesn’t rest comfortably in your chest or jeans pocket. The phone sits in the middle tier of Sony’s smartphone range, and boasts a sharp, shiny, 6-inch Full HD display that operates perfectly well indoors or out. The ample screen makes icons and text larger, ensuring the phone is actually more user-friendly and resulting in less squinting, while also being easier on the eye. Screen swipes are smooth and seamless, and the phone reacts well to the touch.

The matte-finished back helps to keep the monstrous XA1 Ultra safely in hand with no fear that it’ll slip free, while the aluminium sides and sleek, rounded edges give it that flagship feel. The few buttons with which it’s adorned tend not to get in your way, and give the feeling that you can do everything with the tap of a finger. There’s no fingerprint security with this model, but the dedicated shutter button for the camera is a Sony feature I’ve always enjoyed.

As for performance, the phone multitasks perfectly well. Running three games, playing music, and continuously opening and minimising WhatsApp caused no trouble for the XA1 Ultra. That said, extended play sessions with graphically demanding games caused the phone to become noticeably warmer, and it began to lag a little. After eight hours of heavy use running software updates, making phone calls and using the phone at full brightness, the battery only went down to around 45%, which is surprisingly good considering the giant screen the phone sports and its surprisingly small 2,700mAh battery. The reversible USB Type-C Fast Charge charging port gets the phone from zero to hero in around two hours.

The XA1 Ultra’s most boast-worthy feature, however, has to be its front and back cameras, and especially its impressive 16MP front-facing shooter. Stacking the 23MP flagship camera on the back with a mega-impressive 16MP selfie camera on the front (complete with LED flash), this golden monster is the perfect companion for walking the red carpet and taking selfies with your adoring fans.

7Throughout my experience with the XA1 Ultra, I completely forgot I was dealing with a mid-range phone and not one of Sony’s flagships. It most definitely exceeded my expectations.

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