The battle for the mid range phones has never been hotter and, if 2017 was anything to go by, the war will rage on in 2018. With Oppo making waves and others like LG and Xiaomi as fierce competitors, Sony looks to make noise with their much-awaited super mid-ranger, the Xperia XA1 Plus, with specs that make it a worthwhile mobile entertainment and photography companion and your go to daily driver for the new year!

 

At a Glance

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Alright. So what makes the Xperia XA1 Plus such a good deal? Well, when you have a 5.5-inch Full HD display, 23-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, a finger-print scanner, and a 3,430 mAh battery right in the palm of your hand, you’ve got yourself a phone that can handle the daily grind and still have enough juice for that last minute episode of the latest show you’ve been watching.

Those are great specs for a phone at this price range (we’ll get to that later) but without further ado, let’s look into what makes this phone so good. I was looking for certain things in particular when testing out this phone as one that could be my daily driver and based on my habits, I realized I mostly used my phone as a social media device, a mobile gaming and media device, and a handy camera. Let’s see how well the Xperia XA1 Plus fares based on these activities!

 

Geek-sthetics – 7/10

The Xperia XA1 Plus is a HUGE phone. While sleek, the literally “edgy” design gives it a very old school feel compared to the newer phones out in the market recently. If you’ve held and tried an Xperia before, the XA1 Plus is no different, and users should feel right at home. New users like me, on the other hand, had to fiddle around a bit but it didn’t take long to figure out how to work things properly. I’m really torn with how the phone looks old school (very square, abrupt edges) but it comes in 4 different colors, like there’s a clash in identity somewhere there that I can’t explain. It’s clean, classy, and sleek, but it doesn’t feel modern enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, build quality is premium and it feels solid in your hands, I just would have appreciated something more curvy with softer features.

 

Binge-watching Factor – 9/10

Battery life is often a concern with feature-packed Smartphones but when you’re powered by a 3,430 mAh battery and supported by the phone’s Stamina Mode, heavy use is no problem. Another interesting bit of info about the XA1 plus is that it is even more power efficient thanks to its MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core processor. BIG WORDS! But basically what it is is that the processor handles processes more efficiently, leaving the phone with good battery management.

The XA1 Plus is built to be a mobile entertainment device. Its 5.5 edge-to-edge, Full HD Display is like having a small TV on your fingertips and surprisingly, the audio doesn’t crack too much even at full volume. I was watching a couple of Netflix series and I was surprised that I went through about 5 episodes while draining only about 30% of my battery life. With basic estimation, watching media all throughout will drain your battery in about anywhere from 12-15 hours, and that’s actually not bad considering the standards today. With audio and video quality being good, all things considered, the XA1 plus excels at the media consumption department!

 

Gaming Prowess – 8/10

Next up, we put the XA1 Plus on its toes with some of the latest mobile games around, Arena of Valor and Honkai Impact. The phone performed surprisingly well during gameplay, with no noticeable lag and graphical hiccups. Colors are vibrant and characters come to life with the 5.5″ HD display and with its build being very rectangular, it actually feels great to hold in your hands as it fits perfectly when held sideways to play games.

This is one part of the review where I’ll have to admit that bigger is better. I see more of the screen and the game while playing, which allows me to not strain my eyes so much. Controls aren’t an issue as well since the screen is so big, there’s enough real estate for me to move my fingers around and perform motions while giving me enough space to see what I’m actually doing.

 

Geek Photoshoot Capabilities – 8/10

 

Capturing moments with the XA1 Plus was a snap and the results were great, as expected from the 23-megapixel, high-resolution rear-camera with a large 1/2.3-inch Exmor™ mobile sensor. I’m no pro at taking photos, so the auto mode was great for me but I’m sure other people would also appreciate the manual mode that gives much more control and freedom to the user. I loved that I could just literally point and shoot and come out with a great picture that is bright and vibrant and Instagram ready without the need to add any filters.

I noticed that when I used the camera to take photos, the camera start up was relatively fast and I could take a photo of a subject within seconds. Apparently, the XA1 Plus boasts of its Hybrid Autofocus that has a 0.6-second launch to capture capability, allowing you to take the shots you need when you need it. If its a selfie you’re after, have no fear because the XA1 Plus’ 8mp camera with a 23mm wide angle lens ensures you capture everything or everyone in the frame.

 

Daily Reliability – 9/10

I realized that during the time with the phone and with the way I use it, I’d have enough battery life to last me until the next day which for me is a big factor. I’d hate to leave my phone charging overnight and call me old school but leaving my phone charged for 8 hours is something I’d never do. It’s reliable enough to fulfill my social media cravings, give me a couple of hours of Netflix to catch up with my series backlog, a few games here and there of Arena of Valor, all of this while giving me enough juice to make the usual SMS and calls that I need to do.

Charging the phone takes around a couple of hours, which is the usual standard charging time from 0-100% so this doesn’t really surprise me. While it’s not the fastest charging phone, you can rest easy with the fact that it’ll last you nearly a day and a half depending on usage.

 

Final Geek Lifestyle Verdict – 8/10

The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus is a great phone for what you’re paying for. It gives you great battery life, arguably one of its most important selling points, for the things you want to do. Want to play games? Watch movies? Catch up on the latest news via Facebook? The XA1 is very much capable for what you throw at it with enough battery life to last you throughout the day. While I would have appreciated a better “looking” phone, you can be assured that the build quality is very good and that this phone will last you longer than your relationship.

Specs Summary

  • 5.5 inches Full HD display (1920px x 1080px)
  • MediaTek Helio P20 2.3 GHz Octa Core
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage expandable via microSD up to 256GB (uses SIM2)
  • 23MP rear camera with LED Flash
  • 8MP front camera
  • True Dual-Sum (nano+nano+microSD)
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • Google Android 7.0 (Nougat)
  • 3,430mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Dimensions: 155 x 75 x 8.7 mm
  • Weight: 190 g
  • Price: PHP 16,990

The Xperia XA1 Plus is available at your nearest Sony mobile phone retailers