Sony may be facing a decline in demand for its mobile phones, but the Japanese electronics giant continues to succeed in other departments, including its gaming and sensor divisions. The company has continued to develop its smartphone lineup, and announced a new flagship “X” of smartphones this year.
This brings us to its latest flagship device. The phone has been priced at Rs. 48,990, the Xperia X Dual is firmly positioned among the bigwigs. Although the phone isn't quite as well-specified as many other more affordable options
Look and feel
From the block-like shape to the curves around the corners, the Xperia X Dual sticks to Sony's tried and tested styling, and looks great as a result.
The all-metal body helps with this, and also gives this phone a truly premium and solid build. The Xperia X Dual is also a little bit smaller than its predecessor, with a 5-inch screen in place of the 5.2-inch one on the Xperia Z5. It's also extremely well balanced, with equal heft no matter how you hold it. This makes the Xperia X Dual particularly easy to hold and grip.
The front of the phone has an unspecified scratch-resistant glass which curves off at the edges to appear to blend into the sides. There are two speakers for stereo sound. The front camera, Sony logo, and proximity sensor are all at the top.
The device has a 5-inch full-HD IPS LCD screen with a pixel density of 441ppi. It's a bit smaller than the 5.2-inch screen on the Xperia Z5, but you won't really be able to tell the difference between the two at a glance. It's naturally capable of going brighter than the Amoled screens on the OnePlus 3.
However, on its own, the screen of the Xperia X Dual is decent. It's got good black levels for an LCD screen and a commendable brightness range. Colours are clean and realistic. Sony also has some useful tweaks that help improve the picture quality, with a decent adaptive brightness mode, X-Reality engine which sharpens images, and a super-vivid mode which makes the colours more vibrant.
Specifications and software
There's dual-SIM 4G connectivity with a hybrid SIM slot, support for up to 256GB of expandable storage through microSD cards, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC. The phone has a 2620mAh battery, and supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0 technology, although our review unit came with an ordinary 7.5W charger in the box. Sony's popular Stamina and Ultra Stamina modes are also present, which will let you stretch your battery life longer in situations where you need it.
The Xperia X Dual runs on Android 6.0.1, with Sony's Xperia UI on top. The basic look and feel of the interface hasn't changed over the years, maintaining its sense of order and clean layout. The notifications shade and quick toggles menu are similar to the ones in the stock Android launcher, and the system retains a dual-layered UI that keeps things uncluttered and allows for better use of widgets. However, there are far too many pre-installed apps on the phone, and a lot of this is bloatware that cannot be uninstalled.
This includes Amazon Kindle, AVG Protection, Clean Master, Hungama Play, Sony Liv and a handful of games, which can be disabled but not removed altogether. Sony Liv was particularly bothersome, constantly pushing notifications that could only be blocked through the system settings. The impression that we get is that Sony is trying very hard to push partner apps and services to you, which can be annoying considering you've already paid a lot for the phone and shouldn't have to be subjected to this.
Sony has made a bit of a gamble with the Xperia X Dual by using the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 SoC. Although capable in its own right, it doesn't quite perform to the level of a flagship smartphone that costs nearly Rs. 50,000, and so this phone is comprehensively outperformed by less expensive options with higher-end SoCs. If we disregard price for a moment, the phone does perform at levels that are roughly comparable to the flagship phones of last year, but that's an indication of how good some of this year's mid-range SoCs are. Performance was usually acceptable, but there were some times when the Sony Xperia X Dual gave us trouble.
The biggest issues we had with the phone were heat-related. When charging, playing graphically-intensive games or shooting video, the phone heats up a fair bit at the back, near the top. This is a matter for concern, particularly when the phone forcible stops video recording due to heat issues, which we experienced on multiple occasions.
Sony's new flagship Xperia X Dual gives us mixed feelings. It's a beautiful device that's built well, has a good screen and sports a feature-filled camera that takes good pictures in most conditions. Unfortunately, there are serious flaws as well, with heating issues that cause crashes, lags and app shutdowns, as well as a fingerprint sensor that often falters. The software is a bit bothersome as well, and the UI is not the most easy to use or customisable.
Our biggest issue is with the price of the phone. While a brand like Sony definitely can command some premium, we feel that the Japanese company has gotten it horribly wrong in this case, and the Xperia X Dual costs perhaps Rs. 15,000 too much. While Sony might feel that its superior camera technology and tricks give it an advantage over competitors, the Xperia X Dual isn't quite the all-rounder it could have been.