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Sony Xperia XA1 Plus review

Introduction

So, what if one Xperia isn’t big enough but the other is a tad too much? Well, you come up with something in the middle. Enter the 5.5″ Xperia XA1 Plus, which is perfectly bridging the gap between the 5-inch XA1 and the 6-inch XA1 Ultra.

Sony Xperia XA1 Plus review

The Xperia XA1 Plus bridges other gaps too, though. For one, it’s got a fingerprint reader on the side, just like on the higher-end XZ series, while the XA1 and the Ultra sacrificed that for minimal side bezels.

And just because the screen diagonal of the Plus is the mean of the other two, it doesn’t imply the battery capacity is thereabout too. Oh no, the XA1 Plus boasts a plus-size battery. The 3,430mAh capacity of the Plus is 27% more than what the 6-inch Ultra has. Couple that with the efficient 16nm Helio P20 chipset and you’re in for some excellent endurance numbers.

There are no surprises to be expected in the camera department. The XA1 Plus shares the primary cam with the other two: there’s a high-res 23MP large sensor unit inherited from last generation’s flagships. As for selfies, it’s the XA1’s 8MP cam that you’ll find on the Plus, and not the Ultra’s 16MP shooter. No flash either.

All the rest is very much in line with the other XA1s, but you can always refer to the next few lines for a quick refresher.

Sony Xperia XA1 Plus key features
Body:Aluminum sides; plastic top, bottom, and back; Gorilla Glass 4.
Display:5.5″ IPS LCD, 1,920×1,080px resolution, 401ppi.
Rear camera:23MP Type 1/2.3″ sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 24mm-equiv. focal length; autofocus; single LED flash; 1080p/30fps video recording, SteadyShot EIS.
Front camera:8MP Type 1/4″ sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 23mm-equiv. focal length; autofocus; 1080p/30fps video recording.
OS/Software:Android 7.0 Nougat.
Chipset:16nm Mediatek Helio P20 – Octa-core CPU (4×2.3GHz Cortex-A53 + 4×1.6GHz Cortex-A53), Mali T-880MP2 GPU.
Memory:3GB/4GB of RAM; 32GB of storage; microSD slot up to 256GB.
Battery:3,430mAh Li-Ion (sealed); Mediatek Pump Express+ 2.0 fast charging.
Connectivity:Single SIM and dual SIM versions (market dependent); Cat. 6 LTE (300Mbps/50Mbps); USB Type-C (v2.0); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; GPS, GLONASS; NFC; Bluetooth 4.2.
Misc:Fingerprint sensor (outside the US), single bottom-firing loudspeaker, 3.5mm jack, dedicated two-stage hardware shutter release button.

Main shortcomings
No stereo speakers on a phone that’s clearly intended for multimedia use
Fingerprint sensor not available in the US
Doesn’t launch with the latest Android
Should we mention the bezels? Oops, we just did.

While we do welcome the introduction of the fingerprint sensor, it’s still not available in the US. Yes, Sony’s bound by contracts signed in the past to not use the technology stateside and that’s that for as long as the agreements stipulate. We guess it’s really a matter of accepting the fact.

Stereo speakers, however, are entirely up to Sony, and they’re still missing on the XA1 Plus. Their absence on the larger Ultra is more baffling, but the Plus could have benefited from a pair of speakers just as well. Seems like there’s plenty of room with those bezels, no?

Sony Xperia XA1 Plus review

There’ll be more to say on bezels when we round up the hardware on the following page, but we’ll kick it off in our usual fashion with the unboxing first. Let’s go.