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Sony Xperia X review: Is this the Xperia Z6 in disguise?

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Sony Xperia X review

Phones such as the Sony Xperia X have it tough in today’s competitive landscape. On the one hand, they’re not cheap enough to lure fans of budget handsets such as the Moto G away from their favoured brand, and on the other they’re not quite alluring enough to tempt flagship addicts away from the likes of the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S7.

One solution to this dilemma is to squeeze in as much high-end hardware as the budget allows while sacrificing a little design panache along the way. I’m thinking here of the Google Nexus 5X or the OnePlus 2, both phones with plenty of oomph, but not necessarily the polish of higher-end models. Another is to make the best phone possible, but make it ever-so-slightly cheaper. Take the LG G5, for instance, or Sony’s Xperia Z5.

That makes the Sony Xperia X something of an oddity. Given the price, it appears to be a natural competitor to handsets like the LG G5 or Sony’s own Xperia Z5. It certainly looks the part, complete with its matte-finish metal rear panel, slab-like design and smoothly rounded-off edges on the glass panel at the front.

It’s a very lovely thing, and much more so in the dark grey of my review sample than the lime gold Sony showed off at MWC earlier this year. Crucially, though, it combines good looks with great build quality: thanks to the combination of the signature Xperia design flourishes and solid feel, it’s far more premium-feeling than its principal rival, the Nexus 5X.

And yet, upon examining its specifications, it looks as if Sony has picked the wrong bits out of the parts bin. With a 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset residing at the heart of this handset, alongside 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (with a microSD card available for expansion), the Xperia X is closer to the Nexus 5X, a phone that starts out £160 cheaper, than phones in its own price bracket.

With the Nexus 5X packing in a Snapdragon 808 for less cash, things don’t look good for the X. The only consolation is that the Xperia X sports a fingerprint sensor, which, along with the NFC radio embedded in the top-left corner of the phone, allows you to take full advantage of Android Pay.

Sony Xperia X review: Performance and battery life

However, the Snapdragon 650 is a bit of a dark horse. It’s a hexa-core unit, with a 1.8GHz dual-core CPU carrying out demanding tasks and a more power-efficient 1.4GHz part taking over when the phone isn’t doing much. And with Android 6.0 Marshmallow at the helm, it feels more spritely than you might expect it to, with nippy transitions, menu animations and web page zooming and panning.

Moreover, when you look at the benchmark results, the Xperia performs at a similar level to the Nexus 5X, both in the CPU and the gaming-centric GFXBench tests. It’s a touch behind the Xperia Z5, though, and the LG G5, which comes in at a similar price to the Xperia X.

As you can see, the Xperia X is ahead or level in all the tests, which is quite something from a chipset that is nominally a rung down the ladder.

The Xperia X also has very decent battery life. Not only did it acquit itself well in our video rundown test, lasting 12hrs 4mins, but its array of power-efficiency tweaks – par for the course with a Sony handset – help it last an age in day-to-day use.

As with any modern smartphone, if you use it constantly, you won’t get much more than a day out of it. However, as I write this, the battery gauge is sitting on 19% after a day and a half of use. That’s excellent performance, and with Sony’s usual battery-saving wizardry in charge, I fully expect it to last until teatime on day two at least.

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