It's a curious thing is the X, on one hand, it's clearly not pound for pound a big hitter, on the other it's been tweaked so much its optimised to hell and can keep up with the big boys without breaking a sweat.
So what is it?
It's not exactly a flagship, but it's far beyond the specs of mid range too. It's like someone got an M5 or Z3 and stuck all the premium features of Z range on to it, then optimised the shiz out of the ram, cpu and os, to make it fast, and I mean fast.
But along with the hardware aspects, the design has had a bit of an overhaul too, gone are the flat glass panels covering the front and back. Now you will find an all metal back and a curved glass front that:
1, looks awesome
2, finally gets rid of that damn digitizer grid.
The whole purpose of X is a redesign too, it's no longer "the best of Sony", now we're into a different realm, a different ideology. Simply put.. It's about you. It's no longer a case of sticking in a 23mp camera that takes 2 seconds to open, it's about optimising the software so not only does the camera open in 0.5 seconds...but by 0.6 seconds, you've already taken the photo.
And here's the rub, not only is this camera faster than Z5, it's marginally better. I do mean marginally too, at a glance you would not tell the difference, but zoom in. And you'll notice the X has a bit of sharpening in its post processing too.
But just to demonstrate how stupidly identical these cameras take pictures:
It's ridiculously close, but also not surprising either. The X carries the Exmor RS, the same one as on the Z5 series, the exact same one.. The only difference is software based, it seems it has a different post processing algorithm, and has the predictive hybrid autofocus on board too, which means it constantly evaluates the scene and (most times) predicts where the focus should be. It means that even in fast moving situations, the focus (most times) is pin sharp, like this.
Not only does it have optimised focusing, but as usual on Xperia handsets, it's stabilisation is unrivalled by anyone, it means videos are jitter and wobble free, as demonstrated here
Excuse the watermark, I'm not paying.
To finish off the camera talk, just a few more samples :
So moving on from the Xperia main point, and we take a look what else it has to offer, well thankfully almost every feature from Z has made it onto X, so we're talking hi res audio support, digital noise cancellation, ps4 remote play, dynamic image enhancements.. Basically everything we loved from Z, all moved over to X with a little bit of fat trimmed off.
To optimise this much, a few background tasks didn't make the cut, small apps are gone, as is 4k video recording (well it is there if you install a 3Rd party app) and we lost the ip68 waterproofing (hmm bad move)
But we did get a refined system that can keep up with the rest of them and is what Sony are calling a "ultra premium midrange" device.. Which is all very good... If not for the fact we aren't allowed to buy it's bigger brother through anywhere but clove... It would be nice to have the option of the performance model, but for some doolaly reason Sony are avoiding putting the X performance in uk (possibly due to spring handset updates being incremental, whilst the good stuff comes at IFA)
But and it's a big but, the X is good, I mean it's really good, it's like an advertisement for what an optimised android phone could be, no lag, no stutter, apps that open just as quick as an 8 core behemoth flagship with all the bells and whistles, and then beat the crap Outta said flagship by actually keeping apps running in background instead of restarting them..... And that screen, oh my, I know I harp on about how Sony have got lcd looking so nice it looks like led but this phone is unreal with its colour and contrast not only is it way more colorful than Z series, it's so much brighter too, from all angles.
Even in the brightest of sunlight, the display is readable too
Software wise, the optimisation runs throughout, and X has an onboard storage optimiser that will clear caches if it detects and build up causing bottlenecks or loading issues, all automatic.
Part of this optimisation and push for speed has unfortunately disabled adoptive SD card storage, it can be enabled by means of adb commands but rarely works correctly and often displays incorrect storage size, plus it's a stupid idea tbh and if anything happens to your phone, your data is toast.
Image and media enhancements are here just as on Z meaning images and videos are enhanced as you view them for more eye catching colours and contrast
As is the audio support and enhancements for DSEE HX upscale to near hi res sound, as well as support for 24bit hi res audio files.
And sonys digital noise cancellation is here too.
The refinement continues to the packaging too, now instead of a bold view of the handset on the front, the box is plain with the only colour coming from the holographic Xperia logo and from the insert sides which carry the print of the wallpaper on each side.
So... Is it worth it?
Coming from Z5, no, it's not but it was never meant to be for Z5 users, it was meant to be for Z3 or Z3+ users looking for and upgrade... And from those models it definitely is an upgrade. A lot of online reviewers are picking up on the fact that it's a tad overpriced, and I actually agree, but I tell you this, in autumn when this thing is £50-£100 cheaper. It'll be the bargain flagship it's screaming out to be.
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