Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra review

A big screen, mid-range smartphone with great battery life

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Our Verdict

A huge screen, great battery life and a price tag that's around half of that of flagship phones makes the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra top buy for those after an affordable phablet.

For

  • Excellent battery life
  • Big screen great for video & gaming
  • Dual front cameras

Against

  • Camera poor inside & in low light
  • Boxy design is tired and bulky
  • Performance can be patchy

The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra offers up a big display and dual selfie camera to entice an audience keen on consuming entertainment on the go and snapping pics for social sharing.

If your budget can't stretch to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or Huawei Mate 10 Pro, then the Xperia XA2 Ultra may very well be the phone you need.

It inherits Sony's now tiring design, but the edge-to-edge display, which we first saw on the original Sony Xperia XA, attempts to keep the look up to date with the current vogue for bezel-free smartphones – although the effort is undermined somewhat by the chunky bezels at the top and bottom of the screen.

Arriving alongside the easier to hold Xperia XA2, the larger XA2 Ultra shares pretty much the same feature set aside from its larger screen, dual front cameras, bigger battery and expansive body size. 

Check out our video review of the design and screen

Price and availability

  • Launch price: £379, $449.99 (around AU$670)
  • Release date: February 2018
Xperia XA2 Ultra specs

Weight: 221g
Dimensions: 163 x 80 x 9.5mm
OS: Android 8
Screen size: 6 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 1920
CPU: Snapdragon 630
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 32GB
Battery: 3,580mAh
Rear camera: 23MP
Front camera: 16MP + 8MP

The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra price is £379, $449.99 (around AU$670) SIM-free at launch, pitching it below the likes of the OnePlus 5T and Honor 9, which is fair considering that its spec sheet isn't as strong at those of the two more flagship-focused devices.

It slides comfortably into the 'affordable' bracket though, considering its supersized display, and when it lands on contract (which should be soon) it won't carry hefty monthly fees.

The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra went on sale in February, but for now it's not widely available, with Amazon the only major retailer with obvious stock of the handset. We expect more retailers to pick up the phone very soon though, so watch this space.

A big screen and a big battery - is that enough to make the XA2 Ultra a winner?

A big screen and a big battery - is that enough to make the XA2 Ultra a winner?

Design

  • Boxy, bulky design feels a little tired
  • Rear fingerprint scanner can be temperamental

The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra boasts a familiar Sony design, which isn't the most exciting out there, but it is at least functional.

There's a metal frame to the handset which makes it feel solid, but the rear is plastic, which reminds you that this isn't a premium device.

It measures 163 x 80 x 9.5mm and weighs 221g, which means it's sizable, and heavy in the hand. You'll need to employ both hands if you want to do some serious typing, as it can get a little unwieldy in just one palm.

The finish also doesn't offer a huge amount of grip, and considering the size and weight of the phone there is a drop risk to factor-in here, especially if you have smaller hands.

The fingerprint scanner on the rear is relatively easy to hit, although we sometimes found that we'd hit it with a lower part of our a finger, rather than the tip, and we'd have to have another go to properly locate the scanner.

Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra hands on gallery

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We also found the scanner to be overly sensitive at times, thinking our finger was touching it when our hands were nowhere near it. It was just sat in our pocket. This led to reading errors that cause the phone to vibrate, making us think we'd received a notification – alas, we're not that popular.

Sony has shifted the scanner to the rear from its more common (on Sony phones) side-mounted location, and claims the new location makes it easier for everyone (both left- and right-handed users) to hit. However the old location was arguably easier to locate, and didn't result in unwanted in-pocket scans. 

There's a headphone jack on the top, which will please cord-preferring audiophiles, while on the base you'll find a USB-C port alongside a single, downwards-firing speaker.

The power/lock key is centrally located on the right-hand side of the phone, and it’s easy enough to locate, with the volume rocker just above it.

We found that during right-handed use the volume key was a stretch for our thumb, which meant that increasing the volume required us to shuffle the handset a little in our palm. We'd have preferred the volume key to be a little lower down, on the left side of the device.

There's no doubting that the Xperia XA2 Ultra is a Sony smartphone, with the firm's DNA coursing through its veins.

The angular rectangle still has its fans, but it's quickly becoming less and less relevant as manufacturers look to squeeze bezels, slice off millimeters in thickness and attempt to provide more futuristic-looking devices.

The design isn't anything new, but its solid and functional

The design isn't anything new, but its solid and functional

Display

  • Large 6-inch, Full HD display is great for movies and games

One of the big talking points on the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra is its screen, which measures six inches and packs in a Full HD 1080p resolution.

There isn't a huge choice of smartphones with screens of this size at this price point, which allows the Xperia XA2 Ultra to carve out a nice little niche for itself.

If you're looking for an affordable Netflix/gaming device the XA2 Ultra is a strong contender. The LCD IPS display doesn’t quite have the color punch of rival AMOLED displays, but it's still crisp and clear, providing a good canvas for video content.

We watched many hours of Netflix during our time with the handset, and can confirm that the screen is well up to the task. 

The 6-inch, LCD IPS display is bright and clear

The 6-inch, LCD IPS display is bright and clear

More discerning viewers may notice a slight blue tint to the display, but you can adjust the color temperature of the screen in the settings to counter this – although you may witness a perceived loss of brightness if you opt to tinker.

While the sizable bezels above and below the display aren't exactly 'on-trend' in the current smartphone market, they do provide a handy space to rest your thumbs when holding the phone in landscape orientation, ensuring that your digits aren't obscuring any of the action.

Sony has managed to push the display right to the edges of the phone on the left and right of the handset, redeeming itself somewhat from the aforementioned bezels, and in turn this provides a better viewing experience in landscape orientation.