The Album app is among the most comprehensive and feature-rich we've seen, it's fast and easy to use, too! Photos are organized by month, and you can use pinch-zoom to change the size of thumbnails (then they smoothly animate into the grid).
At the very top of the list is a slideshow, showing off your photos, lower down, the first photo of each month is shown at twice the size of other images.
You can instead browse photos on a map (you can manually add geotag info too) or by folder. This includes network storage so that you can view photos from a DLNA server (your home computer for one). Then there's integration with online albums - Facebook, Picasa, Flickr.
Image editing is handled by Sketch. It lets you fingerpaint over a photo or a paper-like texture, add text, stickers, photos and so on. If you're talented, you can share your creations on the Sketch mini-social network, and if you're not, you can just browse what others drew.
Movie Creator is similar to the Assistant of Google Photos. It automatically creates short videos from the photos and videos you've shot.
You can do it manually too: pick photos and videos, change their order, add color effects and music (you get a small audio collection to start you off, but can use custom files too). Then tap the Share button and send out your animated slideshow.
We mentioned it in the Display section, but we'll repeat it here. The Sony software uses image enhancements to make even average-looking photos pop. You can choose from Off, Mobile Bravia Engine 2 (sharpen and boost contrast) and Super-vivid.
The Music app feels like a part of the same software package as the rest of the custom Sony stuff. The contextual side menu offers much of the same browsing options - by folder, network folder and online services, in this case, Spotify (it's just a link to the Spotify app though). You can share music from the phone to compatible players.
The Infinite button as such is gone, but its functionality is still here in the menu. It can find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia and search for lyrics on Google. Gracenote is used here too and it can automatically download information about your tracks and album art.
There are presets for Sony headsets and a number of audio settings. ClearAudio+ determines the best audio quality settings depending on the track you're listening to. We liked how it changed the sound and carefully accentuated various details. You also get a 5-band equalizer if you want to do the tuning manually.
Dynamic normalizer evens out the volume differences across tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.
TrackID is Sony's trusted song recognition software, which has since evolved way past that. It can now show you music charts by country, give you live updates on recent searches across the world, and store your search history as well.
There's also an FM radio tuner with RDS. The app features multiple visualizations and integrates with TrackID to recognize the currently playing song. Of course, you would need to have your headset plugged in for the FM radio to pick up any signal.
The Movies app is gone, the Video app is more focused on TV and movies than watching local content (Movies had HTPC-like functionality). The app will insist you enter ZIP code and cable provider before it lets you into the main UI.
Then you get multiple tabs that cover what's on the air right now, browsing info about TV series, upcoming movies on TV, getting recommendations and so on.
It's only the My Library tab that is concerned with watching stuff from the Xperia XA Ultra memory.
Videos can continue playing in the background (it's an option), but you can't view the video in a small floating window. At least you get full subtitle settings.
The Sony Xperia XA Ultra did greatly in the active external amplifier part of our audio quality test. The smartphone's output was clean and its loudness was nicely high, making up for one of the better showings out there.
Plugging in a pair of headphones does cause some damage to stereo quality and adds some intermodulation distortion, but neither reading gets too bad. Yet with volume levels also plummeting to below average the final result is only decent, rather than impressive.
Here go the results so you can do your comparisons.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.