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Battery life

  • Large capacity lasts a full day on a single charge
  • USB-C charging, no fast charger supplied

Battery stamina should be one of the Sony Xperia XA2's stand-out elements. It has a 3,300mAh unit, and that's part of the reason the phone is fatter than its predecessor.

This is also a larger cell than many competitors with larger screens, and the similar-size Moto G5S has 300mAh less at 3,000mAh.

We're mildly disappointed by its real-world longevity though. It'll last a day, sure, but won't necessarily get you the big second-day buffer that separates a truly long-lasting Android with one of just okay battery life.

We can't blame Facebook, infamous battery leech, either as we haven't logged into it during testing. The Sony Xperia XA2 does seem to get a little warmer than most during relatively light tasks, making us wonder if a CPU/resource management issue may be to blame.

Playing back a 720p video at maximum brightness takes 23% off the battery level. Again, this is not as good a result as we'd hope for given the milliampere count. The Moto G5S lost just 16% in the same test. Something is not quite right, but looking into the battery consumption metrics Android 8.0 offers, we have no obvious leads.

The last 12 months have seen some progress in real-world battery life, and we hoped the Sony Xperia XA2 would be a standard bearer for this in 2018. But, at least at launch, it isn't.

This all sounds bad, but the Sony Xperia XA2's stamina is perfectly fine. It lasts a full day, with significant use. We just hoped for more.

You charge the XA2's battery using the USB-C socket. Our sample did not come with a fast charger, although the phone does appear to support Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.

You can buy a UCH12W fast charger direct from Sony for a wince-inducing £44.99 (around $60/AU$80), although you'll also find it far cheaper elsewhere online.

Camera

  • Very high-res rear camera
  • Unhelpful exposure metering
  • Capable of great shots, but soft at night

The Sony Xperia XA2 has a similar camera to the older Xperia XA1. There's a single very high-resolution 23MP camera on its back, using a large 1/2.3-inch sensor.

Just as we saw in the Xperia XA1, this sort of sensor can outperform the kind of 13MP Samsung and Sony sensors used in quite a lot of low to mid-range phones. You get slightly better performance at night, and greater detail retrieval in perfect lighting conditions.

At their best, Sony Xperia XA2 photos look great, with good sharpness and contrast, although Sony's image engine does tend to favor impact over an entirely natural look.

We find you need to work around some of the camera's foibles to get top-grade results, though. Metering is the worst offender. Point and shoot without picking a focus point and the Xperia XA2's camera brain is just fine, exposing the scene reasonably well.

Tap the screen to choose a subject and it reverts to spot metering. This causes problems.

Spot metering is where the 'brightness' of the photo is judged on that focus point, ignoring how much the rest of the scene may become overexposed as a result.

Take the Xperia XA2 outdoors and pick a focus point, you almost always end up with whited-out skies. Spot metering as an option in a Pro mode? Great. Spot metering as the default in an “intelligent” auto mode? What's Sony Mobile thinking?

A brightness slider does let you customize the exposure level, but we shouldn't have to use this as much as we do.

Other issues include quite a lot of purple color noise throughout images, and unusually pronounced loss of sharpness towards the edge of the frame.

Despite being large, the Sony Xperia XA2's sensor is also not good enough to resolve close to all of its 23 megapixels of detail in anything more than low ISO studio settings. We'd take a high-quality 12MP sensor over this, any day.

However, compared with the 13MP Huawei P Smart, the Sony Xperia XA2 has clear advantages. Images tend to have higher contrast and the Sony’s reproduction of shots with low-level indoor lighting is miles better: more detail, superior color reproduction.

High ISO night shots are still just passable, though, with nothing like the detail of a stabilized or large sensor pixel camera. Almost all fine detail is obliterated to make images look smooth and low on noise.

Sony has cleaned up its image noise processing algorithms in other respects, though. Old Xperias, even high-end ones, used to make a royal mess of fine detail, making it appear ugly and scratchy. The approach is now much softer, and cropped images are much more appealing as a result.

There's more work to be done on Auto HDR processing and that exposure metering blunder, but the Sony Xperia XA2 can take some of the better shots in its class. We'd pick the Moto G5 Plus or Samsung Galaxy A5 over it for everyday shooting image quality, though.

You can shoot video at up to 4K resolution with the Xperia XA2. If you've bought one and are wondering how, there’s a separate 4K capture mode. You don't just dial up to 4K in the camera settings.

Around the front sits an 8MP camera with a very wide-angle lens. Its view is so wide that it actually works better for group selfies than Instagram pout pics as the lens has a mild geometric distortion effect.

Image quality is decent. Photos look bright, but detail capture isn’t close to the very best 8MP selfie cameras.

Camera samples

Image 1 of 8

There’s a lot of unwanted purple tint here, but it’s a good demo of how sharp the XA2’s photos can appear.

There’s a lot of unwanted purple tint here, but it’s a good demo of how sharp the XA2’s photos can appear.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 2 of 8

It’s softer than it may appear zoomed-out, but the scene is bright and clear.

It’s softer than it may appear zoomed-out, but the scene is bright and clear.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 3 of 8

We get a good account of the scene’s basics here, but the detail in the buildings has all the texture of microwaved banana.

We get a good account of the scene’s basics here, but the detail in the buildings has all the texture of microwaved banana.

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Image 4 of 8

Here’s an example of the spot metering in action: focus on the foreground and you end up with a wildly overexposed image.

Here’s an example of the spot metering in action: focus on the foreground and you end up with a wildly overexposed image.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 5 of 8

Another, less serious example of the XA2’s metering issue. By selecting the goat on-screen, we get a great shot of the creature, but the sky is severely overexposed.

Another, less serious example of the XA2’s metering issue. By selecting the goat on-screen, we get a great shot of the creature, but the sky is severely overexposed.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 6 of 8

We were fairly impressed by the detail retention and color in this mid-low indoor lighting scene from London’s Horniman museum.

We were fairly impressed by the detail retention and color in this mid-low indoor lighting scene from London’s Horniman museum.

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Image 7 of 8

Let the XA2’s auto exposure do its thing and you can get good results, although to tease the most from this image we’d need to bring out the shadow detail more.

Let the XA2’s auto exposure do its thing and you can get good results, although to tease the most from this image we’d need to bring out the shadow detail more.

Click here to see the full resolution image

Image 8 of 8

Again, the sky is overexposed, but the foreground is very clear and punchy. Check out how the lens loses sharpness at the scene’s extreme left, though: sheesh.

Again, the sky is overexposed, but the foreground is very clear and punchy. Check out how the lens loses sharpness at the scene’s extreme left, though: sheesh.

Click here to see the full resolution image