Sony Xperia X review

A phone that doesn't quite know who it's aimed at

Sony Xperia X review

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  • Sony's interface doesn't change stock Android a huge amount
  • Swiping downwards constantly opens incorrect menu
  • Hi-Res Audio really helps make your tunes sound better
  • CPU is oddly underpowered.

Sony's interface on the Xperia X is nothing really special - it ticks the right boxes and is a slick enough system to use, but does have some grating elements too.

We'll get right into one of the most annoying parts first: when you accidentally swipe a little downwards on the home screen (or apps drawer) you'll get a 'suggested' apps list, which is based on the apps you supposedly use the most and the best the Internet has to offer.

The second part is especially galling, as Sony is pushing certain apps on you without explaining if they'll be any good for you.

The big question here is: why did Sony decide to use Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 middle-tier CPU rather than the best on the market, which it's done with the Sony Xperia Z5 and (presumably) future phones too.

While we've really gone past the point of needing a billion cores and hyper-fast clock speeds in our phones, the Snapdragon 650 doesn't have the engine you feel a hardcore smartphone user will be looking for.

Sony Xperia X review

During our speed benchmarking tests, the Sony Xperia X performed comparatively poorly, offering speeds 40% slower than the very best around. Yes, you're paying a little less for this phone and you do get 3GB of RAM to help push things along, but it does have an effect on the speed of this phone.

It can take a touch longer at times to perform some tasks, such as saving a camera photo at high resolution, and that may start to irk eventually.

We didn't notice a huge problem in gaming though, and it could be that Sony's optimised the processor well enough there that you don't need to worry about the performance.

The rest of the interface is stock Android really, with the slightly more stylish clock one of the only things that really marks out the Xperia X over some of the Nexus phones.

The speakers which flank the screen top and bottom, pumping the music and film audio right into your face, are suitably strong and impressive at times. The sound output is a touch too tinny at times (it doesn't have the bass-rich stylings of the similarly-priced HTC One M9 from last year) but is loud enough to keep you intrigued while preparing dinner.

The music output on the Xperia X is, once again, strong, with the Hi-Res Audio support and upscaling really helping to make even the most mundane tunes sound decent. If you pair the Xperia X with a pair of Sony headphones the phone can also work as a noise cancelling device too, so you can be even more immersed in the sound.

Sony Xperia X review

In terms of out and out media ability, the X is good, but it's not the best - as you'll see in the screen performance next - and with the ability to upgrade the 32GB or 64GB versions with up to 256GB of extra capacity by shoving in a MicroSD card, it would have perhaps been nicer to see this challenging the very best media handsets out there.

It can run PlayStation 4 Remote Play, so hook it up to a PS4 controller and you'll be able to check out your games as long as you're on the same home network as your console. The screen is a little small for such a task, so if this matters to you then perhaps the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, with its 4K huge display, will serve you better.

It's simple to use the Sony Xperia X, and the overalls dimensions of the device are such that it fits nicely enough in the palm and everything is mostly within thumb's reach.

However, it's just an uninspiring phone in day to day use - we were rarely left feeling that we were missing something if we weren't able to use the Xperia X for a day, where with other phones there's often a top feature you want to play with day in, day out.


  • Good quality overcomes the Full HD limitations
  • Contrast can err on the dark side (not the Vader kind)
  • Typing any kind of text on this phone is frankly terrible

The display on the Sony Xperia X is still limited to 1080p - but once again the brand has used its Triluminos technology and X Reality engine here to make it look like it's higher resolution.

That doesn't help with the sharpness at times, but overall the color reproduction is often strong and impressive.

Sony Xperia X review

However, when it comes to watching movies the Xperia X isn't the very best out there - on the 5-inch display you'll sometimes struggle to make out the difference between the dark and light scenes as the contrast ratio isn't brilliant.

One of the most irritating things about the screen - and indeed this phone - is the screen touch response, and specifically when typing. It's just terrible and keeps misreading the key you're trying to poke.

Trying to peck out a message at speed just isn't possible, as too often the phone will still be recognising your last touch... And if you've got the swipe mode enabled you'll want to hurl this phone down the toilet.

Ironically, older Sony phones would have survived this.

The brightness is good though, and the height to which you can fire this means that you'll be able to fairly easily see through the dark scenes mentioned above... It just comes at the cost of battery life.

Similarly, the lowest setting is perfect for using the phone in bed and not wanting to disturb a partner - which is something that's sadly becoming the norm in society.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.