Sony Xperia X hands-on - the Z6 by any other name is just as sweet

Say hello to your new Sony Xperia Z6. Sony has confirmed that it will be discontinuing its flagship Z series and moving its focus to its newly-refreshed X series. The Xperia X is actually one of three new X series phones coming to the UK this summer, and it will launch alongside the Xperia XA and Xperia X Performance.

The X sits in the middle, although Sony was keeping tight-lipped on just how much each one will eventually cost. Either way, this is very much a high-end model compared to its mid-range cousin, the XA, which is odd when the XA looks so much more desirable. While the XA has a gorgeous edge-to-edge display, the X has a much more traditional appearance, as there are visible bezels surrounding its 5in Full HD display.

The Sony Xperia XA

The very narrow right and left-hand side bezels of the Sony Xperia X

However, you can definitely tell the X is the more expensive of the two devices when you get them in your hand, as the X's smooth metal rear feels much classier than the soft-touch panel on the XA. It's certainly a refreshing change from the rear glass panels on Sony's Xperia Z series, and it should also help make the phone more durable and less prone to getting shattered (at least on the back) if you accidentally drop it.

The rear of the Sony Xperia X

It's just as convenient to operate as the newest Z phones, though, as Sony's included its power button-based fingerprint sensor on the side of the phone. This was first introduced on the Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact and Z5 Premium, and it's easily one of the most elegant fingerprint readers we've seen so far, so it's great to see it make an appearance here as well.

The front of the Sony Xperia X

Another new feature on the X is that its 23-megapixel rear camera comes with Sony's brand new predictive hybrid autofocus technology, which the XA doesn't have. The lens itself is essentially the same one that you'll find on the Xperia Z5, but Sony said the predictive hybrid AF is able to predict the way your subject moves so you can capture the action in the moment', so to speak, without any blur.

It worked very well when we tried it out for ourselves, as it latched onto objects extremely quickly, but we'll have to see how it fares under more in-depth testing. If selfies are more your thing, then the X has a very capable 13-megapixel camera, much like the Xperia M5, as well as a 22mm wide angle lens.

The Xperia X should have plenty of speed, too, as it's powered by one of Qualcomm's new six-core Snapdragon 650 chips and 3GB of RAM. It certainly felt very quick when swiping through Sony's Android 6.0 skin, but it remains to be seen how much of a boost it offers over the current Snapdragon 615 chips.

The X will be available in single and dual SIM varieties, but each one will have different storage options. The single SIM version only comes with 32GB of storage, while the dual SIM version comes with 64GB. This isn't too much of a problem, though, as both come with microSD card slots for expanding the storage up to 200GB.

Sony was once again keen to stress that the Xperia X's 2,620mAh battery will be able to provide up to two days of battery life, but it also said that it's been working with the US-based company Qnovo to help improve its overall battery lifespan as well. Sony claimed that the X should be able to last twice as long as your typical smartphone battery over the course of its life, so it shouldn't deteriorate quite as quickly once you've been using it for a year or so.

The good news is that all this will be available on the Xperia X Performance as well. Sony only had hands-off dummy units available, but the initial pre-production models certainly look the part for sitting right at the top of the new X series family. Unlike the regular X, the X Performance has a brushed metal finish and comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 instead of a 650. Otherwise, both the X and the X Performance are identical handsets.

The metal-backed Sony Xperia X Performance

Right now, the Xperia X and the X Performance feel more like a refinement of the Xperia Z5 than a truly new handset, but the changes Sony's made are definitely for the better. There's currently no word on price or an exact UK release date just yet, but hopefully the X series might give Sony the shot in the arm it needs to help compete against the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 when they launch later this year.