Devices – August 2016

Two very different phones this month. Asus has packed the best processor on the market into its new Zenphone 3 whilst Sony is aiming the XA at the lower/ mid-range buyers out there. See how they got on below.

Sony Xperia XA

Xperia-XAThe Xperia XA is Sony’s attempt at attacking the low to mid end of the market and at £229 it could be a compelling option for those on a budget.

The XA’s 5 inch 720p LCD screen is disappointing and I can’t really fathom why Sony has allowed itself to put out such a phone. Cheaper options on the market generally come with 1080p screens so the XA isn’t off to a great start. There is nothing inherently wrong with the quality of the screen, it just isn’t as good as MOST other phones on the market right now.

Sony is also using Helio P10 processors in the XA range which have proved aggravating for users of other cheap smartphones in the past. I didn’t have too many problems but there was some noticeable lag in places. However, when you compare both the screen and the processor speeds to the top end Xperia’s there is a chasm between them, the XA’s don’t even come close.

The small 2300mAh battery isn’t helping either, Sony clearly thought its light combo of processor and screen would give users extra juice during their day… it doesn’t. In fact, it won’t last a day for most people who are moderate users.

The only positive thing about this phone is its design. Sleek and sophisticated, it fits into the hand very comfortably and really does look fantastic. Unfortunately it all starts to go downhill after you turn it on. Although at the cheap end of the market I can’t even see how Sony can justify this price, clearly being a part of the Xperia range comes with a premium attached.

Asus Zenfone 3

Asus-Zenfone-3Although Asus isn’t really known for its smartphone prowess there were several compelling reasons to take a closer look at this device. Firstly, it’s the first smartphone to contain the new Snapdragon 821 processor and secondly, it comes with 6GB of RAM! So on paper at least it would seem that the Asus is packing an almighty punch with the latest handset the Zenphone 3.

Running the Android Marshmellow OS the Zenphone 3 also comes with 64GB of internal storage, which increases to 256GB if needed, and also has a 23MP camera. All of this is wrapped up in a full metal case, or unibody as Asus calls it, which is very sleek.

The 5.7 inch Super AMOLED screen is vibrant enough but is still sporting the same resolution as the previous model, 1080p, which seems a bit odd. Samsung equivalents include quad HD (2k) which are a noticeable step up. The Snapdragon 821 processor is also capable of supporting 4K resolution yet Asus hasn’t pushed for that feature.

There are rumours that Asus is working on a VR headset which may explain why the Zenphone 3 is packing a large punch, specs wise, but doesn’t appear to be utilising it.

Due to be released at the end of July the Zenphone 3 is certainly quick when navigating between apps but I couldn’t tell much between that and other top end phones on the market right now. Battery life is also in question despite the 3,000 mAh pack inside. With all that extra grunt in the phone it isn’t clear how this will perform over a day of heavy use. Much will depend on the user’s main activities.

The one thing Asus has achieved with the Zenphone 3 is that it now deserves to be mentioned alongside the likes of the Samsung Galaxy range and the iPhone. If it can manage to harness those impressive specs then this could be a real contender at the top of the market.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine