Saturday, 09 June 2018 16:08

Review – Sony Xperia XA2 dual-SIM selfie phone

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Sony’s new smartphone is a comfortable, yet robust, 5.2” Android-powered device which includes two SIM card trays and cameras designed to meet the most demanding of selfie needs.

The Sony Xperia XA2, model H4133, was released in Australia during April 2018 and iTWire has taken one for a test drive. It lists at RRP $549 and is available from JB Hi-Fi and Sony Kiosks.

The phone has a strong feel, in an attractive borderless design, with an IPS LCD 5.2” full HD display of Corning Gorilla Glass, metallic back, anodised aluminium sides and diamond-cut finishes on top and bottom, weighing in at 171g.

It fits into Sony’s mid-range phone segment, equipped with Android 8.0 Oreo, a 3300 mAh battery, Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 chipset, oct-core 2.2GHz Cortex-A53 processor, Adreno 508 GPU, 32Gb storage, 3Gb RAM, rear fingerprint sensor, and Sony smart-charging and adaptive-charging technologies to provide rapid charging that prolongs battery life.

John Featherstone, managing director, Sony Mobile Communications Oceania, said of the phone’s release: ”We’re excited to bring such a strong mid-range product to the market that is packed with Sony Mobile’s exceptional Xperia camera technology and impressive performance features, housed in a sleek, intuitive design.”

The new model also comes with two nano-SIM card trays allowing you to separate your work and home lives while still only carrying one phone, or perhaps for all your discrete private investigation needs, or many other purposes. One great use case scenario is travelling internationally – use your own home SIM card to receive calls and messages, and at the same time insert a cheap, local SIM card for all your data needs to avoid roaming charges.

The phone has a memory card slot, but this occupies one of the SIM card slots. Thus, if you don’t need the dual-SIM facility you can expand memory instead.

Yet, these specs aside, Sony dub this the ultimate selfie smartphone. As you might expect, it comes with two cameras definitely out of the traditional mid-range.

The first is a rear-facing Sony 23 megapixel large 1/2.3” Exmor RSTM camera with ISO 12800 sensitivity for clear low-light photography, 4K video recording and 120 frames per second slow-motion video capture.

The second is a front-facing 8 megapixel 120 degree super wide-angle Exmor R camera to capture more of your friends and surroundings.

Both are certainly unique – typically the rear camera is less-capable than the front, and certainly, the wide-angle front camera is novel. It might also be argued other — pricier — phones provide a superior photographic experience in general, but the XA2 doesn’t claim to be the smartphone for professional photographers shooting far-off scenery; its claim to fame is being the ultimate selfie phone and these cameras serve this purpose admirably. In short, it’s all about you!

iTWire found the phone comfortable and easy to handle, and its quick-charging truly provided hours of use out from only a few minutes charge when using the supplied Sony Quick Charger.

The cameras provide LED flash, geo-tagging, face and smile recognition, high-definition range (HDR) and a panorama mode.

The face recognition is pretty interesting; when taking selfie photos using the front camera the XA2 instructs you to keep your eyes on the front camera lens and lets you hold out your palm to take photos, instead of stretching your arm to try and reach the camera button on the phone.

That is, point the front camera at yourself and the XA2 will find your face and keep it focused while you check your appearance and primp and preen yourself as needed. When you’re all good to go, hold out your open palm with fingers extended – the XA2 will “see” it, indicated by displaying a circle around your hand’s image, and kicks off a timer to take your photo, allowing you to pull your hand away again.

The camera also offers augmented reality mode, letting you decorate your photos with fairies and dinosaurs, or place wigs and phantom of the opera masks on yourself, among many other creative options.

Other phone features include an FM radio, PlayStation console interoperability, Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, USB-C connector, GPS, NFC, accelerometer, proximity sensor, compass and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

All-in-all, the Sony XA2 is an admirable phone that provides a good range of features and capabilities for its price point. You can buy more expensive phones — easily double the price and more — that do more things like face unlocking, stereo speakers and are water-resistant, but for a mid-range phone, it comes with novel and above-average cameras, good battery life, dual SIM trays and fast charging. It’s certainly deserving of your consideration for any keen photographer on a budget.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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