Sony Xperia XA1 Plus

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The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus is being pitched as a ‘super mid-tier smartphone’, as it slides in above the Xperia XA1 and below the Xperia XA1 Ultra in Sony’s slightly confusing middle-market range.

Its main talking points are the 5.5-inch Full HD display and sizeable 3,430mAh battery, although Sony has offered up little else in terms of specs for this handset so far.

While the ‘super mid-tier’ tag suggests an affordable price point for the XA1 Plus, Sony is yet to confirm its price, and there’s currently no word on its availability around most of the world either, although we do know it’ll be on sale from the autumn in the UK.

We’ll be getting to grips with the XA1 Plus in more detail during IFA 2017 in Berlin, so check back here for our updated thoughts later this week.

Design and display

In terms of design the Sony Xperia XA1 Plus inherits the same look and feel as the firm’s handsets from the past few years.

That means you’re looking at sizeable bezels above and below the 5.5-inch Full HD display, with the squared-off design of old now a little more rounded on each side, making it easy to hold in the hand.

The flat rear means it still isn’t the comfiest fit in the palm, but it’s just about manageable for one-handed use – assuming you have big hands.

Sony’s side-mounted power key resides in the center of the right side, with a volume rocker switch just above and a dedicated camera shutter key towards the base.

The power key also incorporates the fingerprint scanner, giving you some biometric security, although if this phone makes it to the US it’ll likely not come with a digit reader, as Sony tends to drop the feature in that particular market.

On the opposite edge a flap covers the SIM and microSD card ports. We’re still waiting to find out the power and storage the XA1 Plus packs, but we do know it’ll run Android Nougat out the box, rather than the newer Android Oreo. 

In terms of colors, you’ll be able to choose from white or black in the UK, with the blue hue we got hands-on with apparently not getting a British airing.

General navigation around the handset was smooth enough, and looking at the two other XA1 devices in the range we expect it to have at least 3GB of RAM paired with its MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core processor.

Sony Xperia XA1 Plus hands-on gallery

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Battery and camera

The Xperia XA1 Plus has a promising-looking battery on paper, with a 3,430mAh power pack crammed into its body.

That’s bigger than the 2,700mAh offering in the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact that launched alongside the XA1 Plus at IFA 2107, and we hope it’ll comfortably last a full day on a single charge. We’ll be sure to put it through its paces during our in-depth review in the coming weeks.

Round the back the XA1 Plus boasts Sony’s 23MP camera, the same snapper found on its two XA1 siblings, and which on those handsets delivers a solid photography experience – although we have found that it can be a little hit and miss at times.

During our brief time with the phone we found the camera to be quick and responsive, and pictures were generally acceptable, although you’ll have to wait for our full review for the final verdict.

The dedicated physical shutter key on the side is certainly useful considering the size of the handset, making it easier to snap photos and grab the odd sly selfie from the 8MP front-facing camera.

Early verdict

The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus looks to be a solid smartphone, with a large screen that’s well suited to video playback and gaming, and a battery that should keep you going all day.

We’re reserving proper judgement until we’ve spent more time with the handset, seen the full spec sheet and found out the price – but it’s so far, so good.

IFA 2017 is Europe’s biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they’re announced. 

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