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Our Verdict

It's as if Sony doesn't realize how cutthroat this market is. Snapdragon 820 performance, waterproofing and microSD support aside, there's not enough here to recommend this overly expensive Android phone.

For

  • Fetching design
  • Water-resistant
  • Expandable storage

Against

  • High cost
  • Some mid-range specs
  • Lacks fingerprint sensor
  • Disappointing camera

Update: The best Sony Xperia X Performance unlocked price is now available via our exclusive $50 off deal if you type in the discount code: TechRadar50. It applies to the Amazon-sold version only and the deal expires on August 23 at 4pm Pacific.

The Sony Xperia X Performance is a phone that makes a statement. It's just not a very consistent one.

Like the others in the new X series, the Sony Xperia X Performance is really good at waving all the signs of a flagship phone. The eye-grabbing glass and brushed metal design make it enjoyable to look at and its 5.6-inch body fits nicely in one hand.

Underneath the hood, though, there's a mix of what you'd expect to find in a top-tier smartphone, but with a few unpleasant surprises tossed in.

It contains the high-end Snapdragon 820 processor, but backs it with only 3GB of memory. The waterproof phone comes with the latest build of Android Marshmallow, offers PS4 Remote Play, and expandable storage. But the screen is limited to 1080p, and the battery capacity is a rather meager 2,700mAh.

Sony Xperia X Performance

These shortcomings would be excusable if the Xperia X Performance were the least bit competitive in price with some of recent unlocked movers-and-shakers, like the OnePlus 3 or ZTE Axon 7. But it's not even close.

At US$699 (about £541, AU$913), this phone just about doubles the price of some more capable options, even costing slightly more than the Samsung Galaxy S7. It's puzzling.

For a phone positioned near the top of Sony's offering, the Xperia X Performance is either woefully under-specced, or just too expensive for what you're getting. How about both?

If you're hoping for a flagship smartphone that balances power, design and value in equal measure, you'll be better served by another phone on our best phones list.

Design

  • The glass front's slightly curved edges give off an elegant look
  • A 1080p screen that is vibrant, but too low-res for the price
  • Its brushed metal chassis fits perfectly in the hand and pocket

If you're seen one Xperia device within the past few years, you've seen them all. The Xperia X Performance falls neatly into that group, but it's not a bad thing at all.

Sony Xperia X Performance

Minimalists will love the Xperia X Performance for its subtle design touches. In the rose gold review unit provided to TechRadar by Sony, the brushed metal back and edges nicely play off the ever-so-slightly curved front panel.

The port layout is thoughtfully placed around the phone, and at first glance, it seems that so too are the buttons. While the power and dedicated camera capture buttons are easy to use and access during everyday use, the volume rocker is a bit of a nightmare.

Sony Xperia X Performance

Located on the bottom right side of the trim, it makes a simple task needlessly difficult. The odd reach even caused the phone to slip out of our hands on occasion.

If you're looking to get this phone in the US, here's one more knock against the X Performance: it doesn't have a fingerprint sensor built-in like its UK counterpart. For whatever reason, it has been omitted, though Sony's website states otherwise.

Sony Xperia X Performance

Given the fashion-forward look of the Xperia X Performance, it's a delightful surprise that it's dust and waterproof with a rating of IP68, which means that it can be plunged under water no deeper than a meter (under five feet) for up to a half hour. So a drop into the sink, a puddle, or even the toilet will be fine (just wash it reeeeally well afterward.)