Hands-on with Sony's latest X and X Performance devices

Instead of unleashing another entry into the already overflowing Xperia Z series, Sony has used MWC in Barcelona to announce a new line – the X series.

Now, it isn’t meant to replace the Z series, but there are certainly similarities between the two. Aside from the mid-range Xperia XA, the X and X Performance are aiming to offer both impressive cameras and long-lasting batteries in a fairly compact body.

WATCH: Xperia X and X Performance hands-on

5 things you should know about the Sony Xperia X and X Performance

1) They look just like every other Xperia

Each time Sony announces a new phone, I get a little excited in the hope that it might switch up its design and produce a handset that looks different. It’s a shame to find then that the Xperia X series looks, well, pretty much like every other Xperia device. It features a flat back, with slightly rounded sides and the same elongated home button seen on the side as the Xperia Z5.

Both the X and X Performance look the same, aside from the latter's more brushed aluminium finish, and both are available in the same range of hues – white, black, plus a rose gold and a "Lime Gold".

The Performance model also has IP68 waterproof rating, so it will survive a dunking in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes.

2) Both have 23-megapixel rear-facing and 13-megapixel front-facing cameras

Cameras have always been the standout feature on the Xperia flagship phones, and this remains true of the X series. Both The X and X Performance include a 23-megapixel Exmor RS sensor on the rear of the device. It's paired with a whopping 13-megapixel selfie shooter, with a wide-angle 22m lens, on the front.

Sony has added a new feature called Predictive Hybrid Autofocus, which should make it easier to capture good-looking snaps of moving targets.

Autofocus on both devices appeared particularly snappy and the test photos displayed accurate colours and plenty of detail. Sony has updated the camera app too. It’s a little more iOS-like in its approach, now letting you swipe between modes.

3) The 5-inch display is gorgeous

At 5-inches, the display on the X and X Performance are certainly on the small side for high-end phones. However, the 1080p LCD panel is laminated close to the glass, just like the iPhone 6S, so it feels like you’re actually touching the pixels.

Colours are super-accurate and viewing angles are great. I was a big fan of the screen on the Xperia Z5, and the one featured on these models is just as impressive, if not slightly better.

4) You’ll get better performance from the Performance

The biggest difference between the X and X Performance is, well, the performance. The X is positioned more as a mid- to high-range device, with a Snapdragon 650 processor running the show. This is simply a renamed Snapdragon 618, in case you were wondering.

The X Performance has a top-end Snapdragon 820 CPU – like the LG G5 – so speed shouldn't be an issue.

During my hands-on I found that both handsets were super-fast – although I was told that the X Performance model I was using was a prototype, so might not be representative of the final product.

Both have 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, depending on your region.

5) Batteries should easily get you through the day

Another key selling point of the new X series is battery life. Sony told me that both the X and X Performance should see you through two days of use – we’ve heard that claim before – and this is made possible through the use of some nifty power-conservation features.

The X Performance boasts a 2,900mAh cell, while the X has a slightly smaller 2,620mAh version. Now, these don’t sound like particularly large batteries, so it will be interesting to see whether they match up to Sony’s lofty claims.

There’s no wireless charging, but 10 minutes of charging will provide 5.5 hours of use.

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Sony Xperia X and X Performance in pictures

xseries 5

Both phones have 23-megapixel rear-facing cameras with hybrid autofocus for reduced motion blur

xseries 19

They also have a 13-megapixel selfie camera

xseries 7

The design is similar to Xperia devices of old, with a flat back and slightly curvy sides

xseries 17

The Performance model has a brushed-metal look to its rear

xseries 15

The 5-inch 1080p display is bright, sharp and lovely to look at.

Sony Xperia X and X Performance

There's plenty to like about the new X series from Sony – but on the whole, it falls a little flat. It just seems like a rehash of the Xperia Z series – similar design, similar claims about battery and similar cameras.

Yes, the display is impressive and both phones appear to be fast, but there isn't much here to get excited about.

With pricing yet to be announced, my guess is that unless they're affordable, they'll be unable to take the shine off competing devices from Samsung and LG.

What are you thoughts on the new Xperia series? Let us know in the comments below.

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