Sony Mobile Could Be Making A Comeback

There was once a time when Sony's Xperia phones were some of the slickest, most fashionable Android phones out there, thanks to their stylish, minimalist designs and trend-setting features like water-resistance way back in 2013. Somewhere along the line, the company got stuck in a rut, and despite having phones with impressive specs, Sony's inability to fix critical mistakes caused its handsets to fall out of favour.

But at CES 2018, it seems like Sony might be finally on the path back to greatness with the new Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra. That's because despite their mid-range aspirations, changes Sony made to its new 5.2 and 6-icnh phones show how Xperia could, finally, be ready to evolve.

The first example of that is how both phones sport working fingerprint sensors, a feature that for reasons that still aren't quite clear, have been disabled on all recent US Xperias. On top of that, Sony placed those fingerprint sensors on the back, in an easy to reach location below their still class-leading 23-MP rear cameras.

Then you take a look at the size of their batteries. The smaller XA2 sports a 3,300 mAh power pack, while the XA2 Ultra features a 3,580 mAh battery, which are 43 and 32 per cent larger than the tiny batteries found in their predecessors. That's a massive improvement, especially from a company whose current flagship sports a battery that's just 2,700 mAh.

The XA2 and XA2 Ultra have even kept their handy dedicated camera buttons. I hope that's one thing that never goes away.

And lastly, both the XA2 and XA2 Ultra feature new 18:9 aspect ratio displays. That might not sound like a big deal, since at this point most phone makers have already jumped on the extra-wide screen bandwagon, but, once again, this shows that Sony is not only willing to change, but is also able to do so in a surprisingly swift manner.

Then you combine all of the above with a more than capable Snapdragon 630 CPU, Sony's signature clean lines, and new addtions like the dual-selfie cams on the XA2 Ultra, and you're suddenly looking at a pair of handsets that would be a pretty attractive alternative to a Moto G5S Plus or a HTC U11 Life.

But things really get exciting when you consider that Sony has already pledged to deliver a fully revamped design on its next flagship phone. Sony has always had the ability to make a great phone, but recently, the company could never put everything together in once device. However, the XA2 and XA2 Ultra are demonstrating that things might be different now. We could be dealing with a whole new Sony, and I can't wait to see what happens.

That said, there's one last piece of the puzzle Sony needs figure out if the Xperia brand has any hopes of actually making a comeback: getting its phones into carrier stores. Both the XA2 and XA2 Ultra are only compatible with GSM networks, which means anyone on Verizon or Sprint can't really consider these phones an option. And without gatekeepers like AT&T and T-Mobile promoting the phone, it will be incredibly difficult for these Xperias to gain any traction in the United States.

While there's no word yet on pricing, the XA2 and XA2 Ultra will be available in the US early February - no local availability details are known yet. The will XA2 feature a Snapdragon 630 CPU, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a microSD card slot. Meanwhile the Ultra will have 4GB of RAM, and either 32GB or 64GB of storage.

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Comments

    The Z3 was their Ultimate Phone in terms of design - my partner still uses my old one to this day. It was such a shame to see how disappointing they where since I have now moved to Samsung as there just wasn't a decent upgrade path from there.

    While I'm still excited to see what new features software and hardware wise Sony is bringing to the table, this round still doesn't seem like it has anything game changing or ambiguous... A Selfie camera.... Thanks but no thanks.

      I see what you mean, I rocked a Z3 for close on 4 years, but I recently (last 6 months) got myself an XZ Premium and I have to say, it's a worthy replacement. Yes, the bezels are still large, and yes, the 4K screen can be very gimmicky, but overall I've never held a phone that fit the title "Premium" better.

      Personally, I really love the industrial design of the XZ Premium and I hope that future phones don't stray too far from it. I use Google Cardboard quite frequently and the 4K screen makes it the best VR headset you can buy, even compared to the Rift and Vive. It's the first time I've used VR without the screen door effect and it's a sight to behold.

      It's not perfect by any means, to make a shortlist:
      1) There is no wired display out through the Type C port, even though the hardware supports it.
      2) The fingerprint sensor is iffy after manual labor or a particularly long shower.
      3) The phone should be thicker and have a larger battery. Battery life isn't bad, I only need to recharge well past midnight, but they could easily get 2 full days worth.
      4) A software button in settings to change the resolution and DPI scaling would be highly appreciated. I sometimes run the phone at native 4K, so absolutely everything is ultra sharp, but other times I like to eek out a little more battery life and performance in certain games, right now the only way to toggle between the two is with a PC and a few command line operations.

    They have huge bezels and on screen buttons, something no-one wants in 2018 surely?!

      I don't mind bezels as long as they have some function , and call me a dinosaur, but i still Prefer proper buttons ..... the off screen type , any day of the week .

        Yep that's what I mean, bezels are fine when they have buttons, but seem pointless without buttons! I've got an S7 Edge can't see myself getting a new flagship as they've all gone to buttonless and 18:9 ratio!

    On screen buttons are the thing of 2018/17. The s8, Note 8 and the iPhone x has on screen buttons. This phone is $300 and there is no other phone that price that I'm aware of with small bezels. Why Sony?

    No word yet on increased availability of the Compact series, either. The 4.6" screen size is absolutely perfect and my Z5 Compact beautifully kept the bezels under control unlike so many other phones including the above ones and the iPhone 8, which is outdated filler because Apple can't make a smaller X. A successor to the unavailable XZ1 Compact on a carrier plan would be a frontrunner for my next phone.

    I stopped using Sony phones years ago because their support was so damn poor, with a buggy OS that was never updated, because Sony orphans devices upon release (even TVs). Soooo happy with my Xiaomi - great phone at a stunningly low price and with tremendous support. Roll on Xiaomi, go away Sony - your day is done.

    I've been looking for a no compromise phone that is smaller for years, I always looked at Sony but things like picture quality were always to far behind their competitors for the price.... Hope they work it out... Had my s7 for a year now and I still think it's to big.

    It's much better to have fingerprint sensor on power button, reason Sony took it out of US version is because of Apple. Apple bought the right to have fingerprint sensor on power button in the US, even they aren't doing it themselves. After the court war with Samsung nobody wants to fight that battle with Apple, so only choice is to exclude the US. it shows how stupid the law is, just by paying some money, they can selfishly, and bully other companies, stop them moving forward, even they didn't do that design themselves. Is it what this copyright law is about?

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