Sony Xperia XA Ultra hands-on

After unveiling the next chapter of its mobile story at Mobile World Congress in the form of the Xperia X series, Sony has today added another member to its Xperia family. The Xperia XA Ultra takes the basis of the XA and upscales it to an enormous 6-inch form factor.

Xperia XA Ultra

Building on earlier mid-range Sony "phablets" like the Xperia C5 Ultra, the XA Ultra brings a gigantic display to what should be an affordable handset. Design-wise, it closely mirrors its smaller sibling, meaning the footprint of the phone is surprisingly narrow. That in turn means it's not impossible to one-hand in a pinch.

On the outside, the XA Ultra features a similarly good-looking polycarbonate body, with Sony's trademark symmetrical design language front and back. Sure, it's yet another rectangular design, but it's also elegant and uncluttered — if not as impressive to behold as the metal and glass-based competition. We're fans of the 2.5D-effect glass use by Sony here, and paired with the rounded sides and corners, this gives the impression of something that's industrial, yet slightly organic. (And yet, that also helps with ergonomics.)

The 6-inch display is eye-catching — as is the OIS-equipped selfie camera.

Around the front, there's one thing that'll catch your eye besides the 6-inch 1080p display, and that's the front-facing camera. Although it sits flush with the surface of the screen, there's a noticeable border around it, and it's larger than the average selfie camera. There's a good reason for that — the XA Ultra's front camera boasts a 16-megapixel sensor with OIS (optical image stabilization.) And to top it off, there's also a front-facing flash. Still, it's something that'll stand out each time you pick the phone up.

Around the back, there's a more traditional 21.5-megapixel shooter — a Sony Exmor RS sensor — without any hardware stabilization. Sony says its Bionz processing enhancements mean it's able to handle low-light scenes well even without OIS — another claim we'll have to put to the test.

As for the display itself, we found it reasonably bright and vivid in our brief time with the XA Ultra, though we'll need to spend more time with the phone to know how it performs in daylight. In any case, we didn't find the 6-inch screen size to be a problem when combined with that Full HD resolution.

In terms of performance, the pre-production Xperia XA Ultra we used handled Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Sony's UI with ease, though it was somewhat less speedy than the higher-specced Xperia X. Again, performance will likely tighten up some as the phone approaches launch.

And battery life remains unclear as well, with a 2,700mAh cell powering the XA Ultra — that's not a whole lot of juice behind a very large smartphone display. That number's enough to make is a little nervous, but numbers alone rarely tell the full story.

Overall, the Xperia XA Ultra is an intriguing handset catering to those wanting a big screen, top-notch selfie capabilities and a price tag that won't break the bank. It's an important addition that lets Sony flesh out its major new line of Xperia phones.

We should have more details on pricing and availability for the Xperia XA Ultra soon, so keep it locked to Android Central for the latest.

Xperia XA Ultra

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.