Hands on: Sony Xperia XA2 review

A feature-packed affordable phone

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The improved screen resolution, larger battery, latest software and addition of a fingerprint scanner means the XA2 is well equipped. If it inherits the price tag of its predecessor, it will be a handset to keep an eye on.

For

  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Strong camera
  • Big battery

Against

  • Thicker & heavier than predecessor
  • Tired design

The Sony Xperia XA2 is a new mid-range smartphone offering some flagship features at a lower price point to the top-end Xperia XZ range.

Arriving alongside the bigger Xperia XA2 Ultra and cheaper Xperia L2 at CES 2018, the Sony Xperia XA2 features a 5.2-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 630 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, 8MP front camera and a 23MP rear camera.

It replaces 2017's Xperia XA1 which offered a great photography experience for an affordable price point, and the Xperia XA2 is looking to build on that with a bigger, higher resolution display, more power under the hood and the addition of a fingerprint scanner.

Sony Xperia XA2 price and release date

The Sony Xperia XA2 release date is set for February, but there's currently no word on price. We expect the XA2 to sport a price tag that will see it go up against the likes of the Honor 7X and Moto G5S Plus.

In the UK we already know it will be stocked by Three and O2. We'll update this hands on review as soon as we know more about the cost.

Design

In terms of look the Xperia XA2 doesn't deviate from Sony's tried and tested design language, which includes chunky bezels above and below the display and a relatively bland square shape.

It's not all bad news, as the bezels above and below the screen here have been reduced compared to its predecessor, with the total height of the handset reduced even though it packs a bigger display.

Measuring 142 x 70 x 9.7mm it is wider and thicker than the Xperia XA1, but the new Xperia XA2 has the added bonus of a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and a larger battery which will have both added to the increased thickness.

These additions have also increased the weight to 171g, and it means the Xperia XA2 makes its presence known in the hand.

While the perimeter frame of the handset is metal, which feels cool and premium in the hand, the rear of the handset is plastic which slightly detracts from the overall premium style.

The rear does have a very slight curve to it, helping it sit in the hand a little more comfortably, but thanks to the smaller 5.2-inch display this is a phone we were easily able to use with one hand.

There's a USB-C port on the bottom for charging, while on the top side of the Xperia XA2 you'll find a headphone jack which will no doubt keep fans of corded buds and cans happy.

Sony Xperia XA2 hands on gallery

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Display

Sony has upgraded the screen on its latest XA handset, with the Xperia XA2 boasting a full HD, 1080p resolution across 5.2 inches.

It means you get a colorful, bright and clear display on a handset which is unlikely to break the £300/$300 mark, making it a highly attractive option.

You'll also notice that while there are bezels above and below the display, the screen stretches all the way to the left and right edges of the phone, which improves the look of the handset.

The screen is great for social networking, messaging, emailing and web browsing, but if you're going to be doing a lot of gaming or video streaming you may want to check out the bigger-screened Xperia XA2 Ultra.

Performance, OS and battery

The Sony Xperia XA2 features a Snapdragon 630 chipset and 3GB of RAM, which keeps the Android Oreo software (the latest from Google) ticking over nicely.

During our time with the handset, apps loaded quickly and navigation was smooth.

It should be able to keep you going for longer too, as Sony has slapped in a battery that's considerably bigger than the power pack found in 2017's XA1. 

The Xperia XA2 comes with a 3,300mAh battery, and Sony tells us that it should give you around 20% more battery life than its predecessor.

Camera

There's a high-end snapper on the back of the Sony Xperia XA2 with a 23MP sensor which slightly protrudes from the plastic rear.

While the camera itself is the same as the one found on the XA1, it has some new tricks thanks to the inclusion of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 630 chip.

The chip means the Xperia XA2 can capture 4K video, and it also improves the camera's low light capabilities.

We took a few quick snaps with the Xperia XA2 in the poorly lit demo area, and while the results looked good we'll reserve judgement until we've put in through its paces in our in-depth review process.

Round the front there's an 8MP camera which offers a wider selfie mode if you're struggling to squeeze in all your buddies. 

This is achieved with software enhancement, rather than the presence of a wider field of view camera, so results may vary. We'll find out in our full review.

Early verdict

The Sony Xperia XA2 is a promising affordable smartphone with plenty of features to shout about.

The improved screen resolution, larger battery, latest software and the addition of a fingerprint scanner means it's well equipped, and if it can inherit the price tag of its predecessor it could be a handset to keep an eye on.

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.