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Sony Xperia X Performance review: You deserve a lot more phone for $700

Florence Ion | July 12, 2016
Seriously, Sony? The Xperia X Performance performs well enough, but it's absolutely not worth its outrageous price tag.

No, you aren’t experiencing déjà vu. What you see here is Sony’s Xperia X Performance, the higher-end sibling of the Xperia X. It’s not a complete disappointment like its mid-range counterpart, but considering it only offers a minor performance upgrade, its $700 price tag should make you blind with rage.

I’m not happy with where Sony is taking its Xperia X series. I was expecting a successful reboot of the terminated Xperia Z family, but instead we got a trio of underwhelming re-entries into the Android smartphone scene. The Xperia X Performance’s higher-end components and water resistance certainly make it the most appealing hardware option among the three Xperia X smartphones, but it’s hardly worthy of its flagship title.

Sony’s version of flagship design

I can’t help but talk about how much I miss the Xperia Z series. Those phones were truly works of art, even with their quirks. They were light and thin, and came in a variety of fun colors. At their debut, they were some of the few Android smartphones that could even remotely compete with Apple’s iPhone.

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Florence Ion

The Xperia X Performance starts out looking premium...

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Florence Ion

...but its backside tells a different story.

Conversely, the Xperia X Performance feels too cheap to be a marquee Sony device. It has Sony’s sharp edges and unibody design, but it’s covered in a weird mixture of thick, tempered glass on the front, and weirdly unimpressive aluminum on the back. Sony probably would have been better served by co-opting Samsung’s design choices, and covering the entire thing in glass.

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Florence Ion

The Xperia X Performance features a volume rocker and a quick-launch camera button, which also works as a shutter button underwater.

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Florence Ion

A slot on the left side opens up to a SIM and microSD tray.

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Florence Ion

The Xperia X Performance employs a microUSB port rather than the new USB Type-C standard. 

The Xperia X Performance is water- and dust-resistant, but not particularly durable: I chipped the corner of the phone after accidentally dropping it while walking to my car. Granted, Sony’s Xperia Zs weren’t exactly the most durable smartphones either (remember when I dropped the Xperia Z Ultra?). But at least those Z phones weren’t so thick that I’d mind putting a case on them. To wit: The Xperia X Performance is a chunky 8.7 mm thick compared to the Xperia Z5’s 7.3 mm thickness (granted, the Z5 never actually made it to the U.S.).

 

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