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Interface and reliability
- Runs Android 8 Oreo, the latest version of Google's OS
- Relatively stock Android, with a light Sony skin and some bloatware
The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra runs Android 8 Oreo, the latest version of Google's operating system, ensuring that the phone is up to date straight out the box.
Sony has applied its own interface skin to Android, which slightly alters the look and operation of some areas of the operating system, but it’s not heavy handed and it's still easy to use.
A couple of the key tweaks are in the app drawer, where Sony has opted for a horizontally scrolling list of apps when Google and the majority of the Android phone manufacturers have now adopted a vertically scrolling list.
Sony has also added a recommended apps tab to the panel to the left of the app drawer, with suggestions based on your usage habits. We found this a little redundant, but it does stay out of the way so it’s not a big issue.
Something that's slightly more irritating are the additional applications that come pre-installed on the Xperia XA2 Ultra.
On top of Google's suite of applications – which for many manufacturers are sufficient – Sony has added its own music, album, and video apps, along with the Playstation, Xperia Lounge, Kobo Books, Amazon Shopping, Prime Video and Kindle apps.
What makes the inclusion of these apps more annoying is the fact you can't uninstall them; you can 'disable' them, which hides them from view, but they're still taking up some storage.
Our bloatware grumble aside, the Xperia XA2 Ultra works like pretty much any other Android phone, and if you're already familiar with the operating system you’re unlikely to have any real issues here.
Music, movies and gaming
- Large screen is great for movies, TV and gaming
- Headphone jack will please corded fans
The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra comes with 32GB of storage, although around 17GB is already in use by the system out-of-the-box, leaving you with roughly 15GB to play with.
If you download a lot of music and videos, you may need to utilize the microSD slot included on the XA2 Ultra, which can support cards up to 256GB in size.
As we've already mentioned, the large 6-inch Full HD display on the Xperia XA2 Ultra lends itself very well to watching video and gaming.
You get four preinstalled video apps on the XA2 Ultra, with Google Play TV & Movies and YouTube joined by Sony's own video app and Amazon’s Prime Video.
While YouTube and Prime Video offer specific services, both Sony's and Google's apps allow you to watch any videos you have on the phone's storage, whether shot with the camera or ones you’ve downloaded separately.
Playback is smooth and color reproduction is good. Movies don't look quite as spectacular as they do on phones boasting the more punchy AMOLED panels, plus there's no HDR support here, but considering this is a mid-range phone the experience is still great.
What's not so great is the sound, with the single, downwards-firing speaker on the base of the handset pumping out pedestrian-quality audio. It does go reasonably loud, but the sound becomes more distorted in the process, and when you hold the phone in landscape orientation it’s easy to cover the speaker with your hand.
The good news is that Sony has kept the headphone jack – located on the top of the XA2 Ultra – allowing you to plug in a set of wired headphones. Bluetooth is also on offer for those who don’t fancy getting tangled, but audiophiles will appreciate the wired option.
Sony's pre-loaded Music app gives you a solid music player for any tunes you transfer onto the handset, and the audio quality through headphones is very good – the less said about the aforementioned internal speaker, the better.
Gaming is another hit on the Xperia XA2 Ultra, with the large screen and decent slug of power ensuring smooth gameplay and respectable load times, while when you’re gaming in landscape orientation the bezels either side of the screen make for good hand rests.
- Capable Snapdragon 630 chipset with 4GB of RAM
- Runs games smoothly, with slick general navigation
The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra is well equipped in the power department, with Qualcomm's mid-range Snapdragon 630 chipset accompanied by 4GB of RAM under the hood.
That's more than enough power for streaming video, playing games and even excessive social media action. Aside from the slightly lagging camera app, the rest of the Xperia XA2 Ultra runs very well.
We didn't experience any erratic app behavior, and games such as Clash Royale, Micro Machines and Pokemon GO loaded and played without issue.
Running Geekbench 4 on the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra, the phone achieved an average multi-core score of 4,185, which is comparable to its smaller sibling, the Xperia XA2, which managed to clock up 4,222 in the same test despite having 1GB less RAM.
It comfortably outperforms the handset it replaces too, with the XA1 Ultra only capable of registering an average score of 3,724 in Geekbench 4.
What this means is you shouldn't experience any serious performance issues, with the Xperia XA2 Ultra capable of handling most things you throw at it.
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John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.