Sony Xperia X review: A mid-range device with no clear direction

At $550, the Xperia X should have much better build quality and features. Sony is definitely off to a shaky start for its smartphone reboot in the U.S.

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User interface: Android with app ads

xperiax ui

The Xperia X’s interface looks normal at first.

The Xperia X runs the latest version of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, and you’ll notice that Sony is almost fully on-board the Material Design train. However, there’s still some work to be done with the Home screen and the app drawer, which leases some of its real estate to so-called “recommended applications.”

xperiax whatisthis

There’s no way that Google would suggest I install the Chick-Fil-A app, considering I’ve never installed anything even remotely related. Why is Sony suggesting I install it?

The app suggestions seem to be nothing more than pseudo-advertisements. I’m disappointed to see this kind of “added value” ploy bundled into a Sony phone—especially one that costs almost as much as an unlocked, all-stock Nexus 6P. Thankfully, installing any other legitimate launcher will eliminate these recommendations, but it’s unfortunate to see Sony take this route.

sony apps

Sony does bundle in a few of its own apps in hopes you’ll use them.

Scroll further in app drawer and you’ll see that Sony has pre-loaded a number of its own apps—because its 2016, and the phone manufacturers are still pushing their ecosystems. There’s an app for Sony’s Lifelog, which tracks your health and fitness; a PlayStation app that essentially takes you to the PlayStation online store; and a Music app that offers access to locally stored music files, Spotify, and even your home media server.

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Um, Sony? You’re a little behind on security updates.

There’s also a bit of bloatware, like the AVG Protection suite with 180 days of Pro service. It can’t be deleted, and includes a bogus feature that lets you see “who’s trying to break into your phone.” To make matters worse, Sony is lagging on security updates: My Xperia X review unit was three months behind on security patches at the time of review. We can only assume that retail customers will get the latest security update, but maybe this is why Sony bundled in the anti-virus suite.

Should you buy this phone?

xperiax  6 Florence Ion

The Xperia X is compact and easy to use, but its few flaws and exorbitant price tag make it less intriguing. 

It’s difficult to imagine just what Sony is expecting to accomplish with this re-imagined smartphone line. The Xperia X feels like a step backwards, but it’s billed as Sony’s 2016 flagship device. And at $550, it’s got a flagship price.

If you’re absolutely committed to Sony hardware, and are desperately aching to put one of the company’s smartphones back into your hands, I suggest you wait until the Xperia X is at least $100 cheaper. Otherwise, I would just buy a Nexus 5X or 6P, both of which have working fingerprint sensors, and promise the fastest OS and security updates in the Android universe.

You could also wait for a few other Sony models arriving later this summer. On this tip, I’ll be curious to find out why Sony didn’t lead with its Xperia X Performance model rather than this mid-range phone with a high-end price tag.

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At a Glance
  • The Xperia X is a sub-standard mid-range phone that isn't worth its high-end price.

    Pros

    • 1080p display is bright and vibrant.
    • Long-lasting battery life.

    Cons

    • Weird pseudo-ads take up space in the app drawer.
    • The phone gets almost scalding hot when it's over-processing.
    • The fingerprint sensor is there, but doesn't work.
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