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 Xperia X review

The Xperia X is a phone that still confuses from Sony… Is it a flagship phone, or will something from the brand turn up soon that outclasses it? Not adding in Sony's traditional waterproofing is an odd miss too, as it's a key thing that a lot of fans enjoy.

The main selling point from Sony is the camera, and the 23MP camera with object tracking doesn't quite live up to the billing it's received - a good snapper, but only captures brilliant photos when pushed and set up with a fair bit of effort.

It's a great phone to hold in one hand though, with the 5-inch screen not feeling overly massive in the palm.

The overall galling factor of this phone is the screen though - whether it's just a case of being able to type quickly or entering text somewhere else, the screen response is just too slow and if you're a texting fiend, having a Whatsapp conversation becomes a nightmare.

It seems like a trivial matter, but it blighted so many things within this phone that it's a really big factor in the score.

Who's this for?

The Sony Xperia X is a phone offering a number of elements that impress, and that's mostly around the media efforts. If you're someone that's really after the best sonic performance on their phone, the Xperia X is up there with the best.

The glass that rolls into the side of the frame looks rather premium, out-doing the slightly lower price tag on offer here from Sony (with the cost being saved by lower-spec internal components) and - the Lime Gold especially - looking great in the hand.

While some elements of the camera don't work quite as well as we'd have liked, there's no doubting that if you're someone who is willing to stop and take a picture properly, rather than just firing up the camera and grabbing a picture, you'll tell all your friends that you've got the best snapper in a phone and be able to show them some excellent evidence to back it up.

In low light, for selfies and taking a well-crafted, well-lit shot there isn't much better out there - especially when it comes to color reproduction.

Should you buy it?

The key question about whether this is a phone you should buy depends on how much you care about the on screen keyboard. If you're someone who doesn't spend hours a day texting, then you'll probably barely notice the issue if you're more careful where you jab the screen.

Xperia X review

While it's good at certain picture types, it's not an all-round great camera, so you'Il need to be OK with coming out second in the 'who took the best snap of last night'. Quick pics from something like the Galaxy S7 will far outdo it, and have it beaten hands down in terms of picture capture and shutter speed.

There's also the issue of the CPU - it being a mid-range chip means that it's not going to be as rapid at doing things like picture processing, so if you fancy taking a pic and editing it through a photo alteration app it'll likely take a little bit longer to get through. There is a good slug of RAM though, so flipping between apps isn't a terrible experience day to day.

This is the phone for someone that wants a handset that fits better in the palm, has a capable camera and good quality audio output - but doesn't like to text at a rapid speed. It lacks some of the higher-end features we'd expect from a flagship phone, meaning there could be something newer and better coming from Sony - but that'll command a higher price tag too.

  • Not convinced? Then check out these phones:

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia X review

The obvious alternative choice to the Xperia X, for the Sony fan, is the Sony Xperia Z5, which offers a more powerful chip and similar abilities with a larger screen. It's also waterproof, which is a big boon for those that worry about having their phone near a sink or a swimming pool, and functions well for most tasks.

However, it was unveiled in September 2015, so is starting to age - and could well be replaced in the near future. That said, the age has brought it down in price, so it becomes a very viable rival.

And for those that don't want something as large, the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact has all the same power in a smaller package too - although the screen is slightly lower resolution.

Read our Sony Xperia Z5 review

iPhone 6S

Sony Xperia X review

The iPhone 6S fits the bill as a rival to the Xperia X if you're someone that wants to pay to have a decent phone - which makes sense given you'll be using it day in, day out for two years.

Where the iPhone wins out is in the camera stakes, as it's equally as easy as the Xperia X to hold in one hand but has a better ability to capture a wider range of photos, and has well-integrated features like the Live Photos to improve the experience.

The Xperia X can do things like create highlight reels automatically, but that pales in comparison to the slick way Apple has managed to do it.

There's also the apps range out there - they'll always be a touch better on the iPhone and the slowdown over time won't be as pronounced.

That said, like the Xperia Z5 it's been out since 2015 - so perhaps checking out the new iPhone 7 would make sense too.

Read our iPhone 6S review

Samsung Galaxy S7

Sony Xperia X review

If only there was a Samsung Galaxy S7 mini, it would be the perfect phone to suggest as an alternative. Many of you looking to buy a new phone will probably want to stick with Android, and this is the best phone out there right now (well, the S7 Edge is the top, but that's a much larger and more expensive phone compared to the Xperia X).

The S7 has an equally capable but much more useable camera, a larger battery and a simply brilliant screen, with lovely contrast ratio and color reproduction.

It's a little more expensive than the Xperia X, but with a 5.1-inch screen (and minimal bezel) you'll find it's relatively to similar in palm size.

But it's the faster, slicker and more powerful handset that also has a cool dedicated VR helmet - if you can afford the little extra, it's a terrific choice.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S7 review

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.