Those familiar with the design on Sony Xperia smartphones will struggle to find anything refreshing at first glance. It still sports the same design as a lot of its predecessors in the Xperia range. A closer look is required to notice the minor changes that Sony has made. For starters, the body is no longer curved around the edges and has a boxy design like the Xperia XZ series. Sony calls it Loop Surface Design, which is visible when looking at the phone from the top. The sides are curved at the front and the back making it easier to hold in the hand. While this design worked with the smaller XZ Premium, the bigger size of the XA1 Ultra causes the edges to dig into your palms during use.
The Ultra branding in Sony terms denotes a big screen and the 6-inch display puts the phone in the list of big screen smartphones. We like how the screen blends into the body, it is hard to figure out how big the display is when the screen is off. Power the display on and you will find out that it is edge-to-edge with almost no bezels on the sides. While this makes you hold your breath, the thicker bezels at the top and bottom immediately start looking like an eye sore. One thing we did like about the display is that it did not register accidental touches despite the thinner side bezels. While you can see two grills on the front, only the top is utilised by the earpiece while the lower seems like just a design element. Sony could have opted for a stereo speaker setup to do justice to the big display.
We found the power button on the Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra to be well placed and the volume button may need you to shuffle the phone based on how you are holding it. It also houses a dedicated camera button just like other Sony smartphones. It is a two-step camera button which can be half-pressed to focus and pressed fully to click the image. You can also quickly launch the camera app by long pressing the camera button. The XA1 Ultra has the loudspeaker at the bottom along with the USB Type-C port. At the back, it houses a 23-megapixel camera along with a single LED flash and a 16-megapixel camera on the front with a selfie flash.
The smartphone does not sport a fingerprint scanner which is surprising given its price point. Sony told Gadgets 360 that since its fingerprint scanner location is unique (in the power button on the side), it plans to keep it limited to its flagship devices at the moment. It added that low-end and mid-range Sony smartphones didn’t sport fingerprint scanners in the past and it did not plan to introduce it this year, but that will be of no consolation to prospective buyers.
Xperia XA1 Ultra specifications and features
The Xperia XA1 Ultra was priced around Rs 31,990 at launch, a price that is used by smartphone manufacturers to launch their budget flagships. For that price, apart from the 23-megapixel camera, there is nothing that’ll catch your attention on the spec sheet. It has a 6-inch display with a resolution of 1080×1920 pixels and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top for protection. The bigger screen at that resolution manages to push out 367 pixels per inch. It is usable and did not appear pixelated. We found it to be bright enough indoors but the huge display tends to get a little reflective outdoors. It has good viewing angles and you also get the option to tweak the display output and white balance.