Once again, Sony has unleashed a monster upon the world, this time around called the Xperia XA1 Ultra. It’s the bigger sibling to the XA1, packing most of the same hardware in a larger form factor, with a couple of improvements.But besides its size, the XA1 Ultra has a few more things going for it: a couple of, as the company calls them, “high performance” cameras, a new yet classic Sony design encased within a metal frame, and an edge-to-edge full HD screen.But while its size may suggest otherwise, the XA1 Ultra’s specs put it firmly into mid-range territory, which may be a bit of a problem for all the spec chasers out there. So let’s dive in and see whether Sony’s latest phablet holds up under deeper scrutiny:


A classic Sony in a supersized form factorLike it or not, Sony’s carved its own little niche in terms of smartphone design and is steadfastly sticking to it. This is very much the case with the XA1 Ultra, which carries that classic, ultra-tall Sony look, but with a couple of extra tweaks added on top.But first, let’s address the elephant in the room – which is, coincidentally, the XA1 Ultra itself.

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This thing is absolutely gigantic, putting to shame most every other device that dares call itself a phablet. And while this isn’t a bad thing per se, the usability costs associated with such a huge device don’t entirely feel justified.

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However, one-handed use isn’t as bad as one would expect it to be – while it could never be called a comfortable experience, it’s still entirely within the realm of possible for more straightforward tasks, such as scrolling through your Twitter feed. The biggest reason for this are the XA1 Ultra’s non-slippery back and sides, a change from the smaller XA1 which makes adjusting your grip to reach the further parts of the screen a less risky experience than it would otherwise be with such a big device.But while the phone itself sits well in the hand and feels sturdy and solid, it sure doesn’t look so – there’s a ton of seams between the different panels, somewhat diminishing the otherwise good-looking design. As for the buttons, both the volume rocker and the power button did their job well enough. However, the dedicated camera key is just all-around bad – it’s mushy and way too easy to press, while also not providing enough feedback.