Xperias, reimagined. Sony is stepping into the new year with a brand new yet recognizably Sony design for its XA-series of midrangers, now into their third generation.
The Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra were announced at CES in Las Vegas, and alongside them a more humble Xperia L2 made a debut as well. We got the chance to spend some time with all three of them, and we've prepared a quick hands-on to share some initial impressions.
The Xperia XA2 leads the way - a compact mid-tier device that's gotten several key upgrades this year. For starters, it's been treated to a larger display that's also higher-res - it's a 5.2-inch FullHD panel compared to the 5-inch 720p units of the two previous XAs. Then there's the chipset - a 14nm Snapdragon 630 replaces last year's Helio P20. A major bump in battery capacity (3,300 vs. 2,300mAh), ultra wide selfie camera, and a fingerprint reader on the back (in the US, too!) - we're liking this new Sony.
The Xperia XA2 Ultra doesn't get a bigger screen, but then it doesn't need to - the 6-inch FullHD display that's been a staple of the lineup is still plenty. The Ultra gets the same Snapdragon 630 SoC, but pairs it with more RAM (4GB vs. 3GB), while an even larger 3,580mAh battery should keep the lights on much longer than on the predecessor - the XA1 Ultra had a 2,700mAh power pack.
Xperia Ultras have always been big (that will hold true with a full stop here, but do continue) on selfies, and this latest one is no different. The phablet looks at you with two cameras - the 16MP 16:9 unit with OIS from last year's Ultra, and the 8MP ultra wide shooter of the non-Ultra XA2. Ultra, ultra, ultra. Well, of course there's a front-facing flash, duh.
And then there's the Xperia L2. The 'more-battery-is-better' mentality continues on this one and it gets a 3,300mAh cell too - about 700mAh more than the L1. It's the same display and chipset as before, but the 13MP camera's lens is brighter (f/2.0 vs. f/2.2), while a bump in RAM and storage sees the numbers go to 3/32GB. The L2 gets a touch of ultra itself - the 8MP ultra wide selfie cam, that is. Oh, and even the budget-conscious L model has a fingerprint reader this year.
There's a common theme between these three - the central rear camera and the fingerprint reader on the back. While there have been Xperias with their cameras in the middle, the prevalent placement has been the top left.
And a fingerprint reader on the side embedded in the power button has been the most Sony thing these past couple of years - hush, Razer, you impostor! Sensor on the back works better with thinner side bezels though, and Sony's been getting a lot of heat for bezels. With the XA2s this has been addressed to some extent, but let's talk design on the next few pages, where we handle some Xperias.
Xperia XA2, XA2 Ultra, L2 hands-on review at a glance
Body: Aluminum frame, polycarbonate back; silver, black, blue, and pink (select markets only) color schemes.