Here at MWC in Barcelona this morning, Sony announced an all-new series of Xperia devices: the X series. Sorry, folks - no Z6 to be found here. But the X Performance may pique your interest regardless. We had a chance to play with the X and XA (the X Performance was not being shown, just dummy units), so let's talk specs and first thoughts.
The XA is the entry-level X.
The Xperia XA sits at the bottom of the X heap, with a MediaTek MT6755 processor, 2GB of RAM, 5" 720p display, 13MP/8MP cameras, 16GB of storage, and a 2300mAh battery. Sony calls it a "supermidrange" (seriously, it was being said as all one word) phone, which is probably a polite way of saying yes, this will probably be a bit overpriced as most of Sony's mid-range fare tends to be. The XA has much of the styling of the X and X Performance, but the internals set it apart pretty clearly in the three handset lineup. It'll be available in single and dual SIM variants, and runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
In my time using the XA, the phone seemed perfectly quick, the screen reasonably good, and the design a nice evolution of Sony's often staid aesthetic. The front bezels were white with a bit of glittery flecking, which gave the phone a nice look. The back is a soft plastic white on the unit we used, though the phone will be available in four colors. A 2300mAh battery, even on a 720p display, though, doesn't sound like the best thing in the world, though Sony is claiming all three X devices can achieve 2-day battery life with Sony's Stamina Mode software. We obviously aren't able to verify that.
The X is likely intended to be the volume seller of the range.
The standard X is a "high end of the mid-range" sort of device, with the all-new Snapdragon 650 processor, 3GB of RAM, 5" 1080p display, 32GB of storage, 2620mAh battery, and a whopping 23MP rear and 13MP front camera. The rear camera is pulled from the Z5, but Sony says they've made very significant algorithm adjustments to the camera firmware that should result in better photos and camera performance overall. The front 13MP camera is capable of a stunning 6400ISO, allowing for images in incredibly dark settings, albeit likely with a fair bit of noise or processing artifacts at such a high sensitivity.
The X was also on display for hands-on time, including a new feature debuting on the X and X Performance, predictive auto-focus. The idea is simple: when the camera app is open, tap on an object in the viewfinder, and the camera will track that object and attempt to predict what the camera should be doing to keep it in focus. Sony demoed it on a table full of motorized ball robots, and it did seem to work pretty well.
As to the rest of the phone? Our short time made impressions difficult. One thing I noticed is that Sony has placed sponsored content in the main part of the app drawer, which really feels a bit icky. A custom launcher would obviously fix this, though.
The X Performance is basically similar to the standard X, but is equipped with Qualcomm's top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 processor and a slightly larger 2700mAh battery. With the 820, I'd say it's probably best categorized as a "slightly below high-end" phone, given the 1080p 5" display and small-ish battery. Granted, the X Performance could be perfect for the person looking for a smaller phone with cutting-edge internals, at least assuming Sony doesn't go and price itself out of the market. Finally, the Xperia XA, X, and X Performance will come with Qnovo "adaptive charging" technology, which Sony promises will up to double the cycle longevity of your battery (as in capacity degradation over time). It wasn't clear exactly how this technology works or how it affects charge speeds.
All three phones are not scheduled to launch until Summer 2016. Yep, you read that right - these phones aren't coming out for at least four months. That's a long time to wait, and it seems likely we'll see a new Android platform version released by then (at Google I/O), which could make the X series a bit less desirable when they finally do arrive. Only time will tell how this plays out, of course, so we'll likely come back to these phones as their actual launch dates approach. No news about regions of availability or pricing was provided.