Otter: Portrait of Selen
Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Sony Xperia XA2 (2020)
Initial Checkout

Jim Carter, 2020-02-07

When the new pocket computer was received, I checked out these features. Initially I used Sony's factory installed image of Android-8 Oreo, advancing to Android-9 Pie after five updates. Later I installed LineageOS-16.0 based on Android-9 Pie, and then I upgraded to LineageOS-17.1 based on Android-10 Quiche, getting almost no difference on these tests. The first column, labelled Stock, gives the out of the box experience with very little hacking; the next one is for LineageOS-16.

In summary, most of the features that the pocket computer is supposed to have, performed with no hassle out of the box. These items had issues:

Details of some of the checkout tests and other miscellaneous items may be found on the More Info page.


Box Worked out of the box, or after a clean installation of CyanogenMod.
Conf It needed editing a configuration file or running a setup GUI.
Add-On Needed additional or patched software: download it; follow instructions to compile and/or install it; it works.
Fiddle As with Add-On, but it required some workarounds in the procedure, which might seem minor to an experienced user but which might prevent a newbie from making it work.
Hack So you call yourself a guru? This one will challenge your skills. But this guru eventually got it working.
Fail I wasn't able to get this one to work, at least so far.
InProgress I'm still working on this item.
N.T. Not tested.
* A prerequisite did not qualify for the Box or Conf rating, but once that was set up, the listed component worked with no further hassle.

Checklist of Features

Item Stock LOS-16
Does it boot at all? Box Box
 Yes, no problems with the initial setup procedure related to power, the bootloader, image signatures, or basic OS functioning.
Check dimensions and mass Box Box
 Mass (measured): 169 grams. Bounding box: 143 x 70 x 10 mm. Vendor quotes it as 142x70x9.7mm, 171g (measurement matches within calibration). Density (based on bounding box): 1.69 g/cc. It will sink like a stone, and it has no IP (Intrustion Protection) rating (the Galaxy S5 was IP67).
Battery life Box Box
  Using the 1.5 amp USB charger that comes with the phone, charging took 178min (3hr, extrapolated from 0% to 100%) or 160min (2.7hr, measured 15% to 100%).
  Battery life under excessive load: With all 8 cores maxed out doing SHA512 sums, it ran for 277min (4.6hr).
  Subjective impressions are that the Pioneer is frugal with energy, even more so than the Galaxy S5. In (my) daily use it uses only 30% battery. Other people likely use more.
  Overnight standby with Wi-Fi and cell radio on, it uses 3% battery. Without its SIM, i.e. with the radio off, it uses 2%.
  See the battery detail section for quantitative test results, and here are some suggestions for power saving.
Startup times Box Box
  • To boot from power off, hold down the power button (the round one at center right) until the phone vibrates.
  • Times to boot up:
    • 40 secs (stock)
    • 120 secs (LOS-16, initial boot after wipe/installation)
    • 37 secs (LOS-16, subsequently). Holding down the power button for 3sec, booter 17sec, boot animation 17sec, until the lock screen appears.
  • Wake up: 1 sec (or less)
  • Go to sleep: 1 sec (or less)
  • Power off: 8 secs (LOS-16)
Display Box Box
  • Dimensions: 116 x 66 mm, 133mm mm diagonal. Aspect ratio: 16x9. 1920x1080px.
  • Readability tests: monochrome text; colored test pattern (for printer); Google Maps.
  • Color rendition in indoor sunlight, variable around 200 lux: Excellent in all directions even to 80 degrees off perpendicular.
  • Readability in outdoor shade, 4500 lux: Completely normal, not distinguishable from the indoor experience.
  • Readability in direct noon sunlight, 140000 lux: contrast is noticeably reduced as if a gray film were over it, but the images are completely useable and I would not be discouraged to use them, unlike some older models. The light sensor saturates at 50000 lux, but the figure of 140000 lux is from the Galaxy S5 at the same time, season and location.
  • How many dead pixels? None that I can see, using the screen tester on the service menu.
Memory Box Box
  • RAM: Mostly from /proc/meminfo (units are powers of 2)
    • Total on phone: 3Gb
    • Meminfo total: 2.67Gb
    • Non-allocatable 0.33Gb (kernel, maybe video RAM)
    • Swap total: 1Gb
    • Virtual address space: 247Gb
    • CMA: 5 Mb (expandable video RAM)
  • Internal flash:
    • Total 32Gb.
    • On the stock image, 8.3Gb was used by /system, and 6.1Gb by apps, total 14.4Gb, 0.6Gb various miscellaneous stuff. 47% used.
    • On LOS-16, 1.6Gb /system, 2.3Gb /data/app, 0.5Gb /data/data, 3.5Gb /sdcard (used), 20Gb /sdcard (total), 7.6Gb other (alternate A/B partitions, Trim area, kernel A/B, etc.)
  • SD card slot: Works; the card is provided by the user. Addressing limit is 256Gb.
  • Filesystem formats per /proc/filesystems on LOS-16:
    • Real formats: ext2 ext3 ext4 vfat msdos sdfat exfat
    • Virtual formats: fuseblk fuse ecryptfs
  • EXFAT is a proprietary Microsoft format that extends VFAT beyond 32Gb.
Processor (details tested on LOS-16) Box Box
  • Features: hardware floating point, SIMD instructions, engines for AES, SHA-1, SHA-2, CRC32.
  • Detection of multiple cores: /proc/cpuinfo shows eight processors (correct).
  • Speed test: 4.15sec CPU, 107sec elapsed to do a SHA-512 sum on 5e8 bytes. I don't know what's extending the elapsed time.
  • Are multiple cores used? Yes…
Voice chat (T-Mobile) Box Box
  • Dial a call -- Works.
  • Incoming call -- Works.
  • Partner hears decent voice quality.
  • Local user (i.e. on this phone) hears decent voice quality
  • Speakerphone audibility -- Plenty loud (with volume turned up), and the partner (an IVR robot) could hear and act on my voice.
  • SMS (text messages) -- Works, sending and receiving.
  • Available modulations (look in Settings - Network & Internet - Mobile Network - Advanced - Preferred Network Type): LTE, 3G (HSPA), 2G (GSM), no CDMA variants.
  • VoLTE (voice over LTE): Turn on Enhance 4G LTE Mode in the same menu. But there should be a VoLTE symbol in the cellular network icon in the status bar, and there isn't. In a more extensive functional test, when making a call it reverted to HSPA and streaming video paused. This means that VoLTE was not being used. Forum posts indicate that VoLTE support depends on the phone model, i.e. the baseband software.
  • What size of UICC (SIM) does it expect? 12.3x8.8mm. referred to as a nano-SIM.
Cellular Data (on T-Mobile, GSM or LTE) N.T. Box
  • Testing with Speedtest app by Ookla ( Cellular data on T-Mobile, LTE, all at one time (20:43 local time) and place. S or M means single or multiple connections. Units: Mbit/sec.
  • Download: 12.4 S, 16.9 S, 19.7 M, 12.5 M
  • Upload: 16.4 S, 27.1 S, 1.25(???) M, 24.9 M
  • The theoretical maximum for LTE is 300 Mbit/sec, never achieved in the wild. These speeds vary radically depending on unknown factors, of which competing traffic is the most likely major culprit.
  • I tried a similar test for HSPA (theoretical maximum 168 Mbit/sec), but I would have had to roam to Spectrum (EDGE), so I didn't do the test.
  • On 4G LTE, IPv6 is used with a privacy enhanced random address.
Wi-Fi Box Box
  • Does it connect to our access point? Yes.
  • What modulation revision? 802.11 a-b-g-n-ac. N is tested and works. It's talking to the AP on AC but this is a repeater and functionality is limited, preventing thorough testing.
  • On IPv6 it has a link-local address (privacy enhanced) but did not do DHCP to get a routeable IPv6 address. My net sends router advertisements but they offer DHCP, not RFC 2462 auto configuration.
  • How to find the MAC address (#1): Settings - Network & Internet - Wi-Fi - Wi-Fi Preferences (at bottom) - Advanced - 2nd item from bottom. This works on the stock image and on LineageOS.
  • How to find the MAC address (#2): Settings - About Phone - Wi-Fi MAC Address (near the bottom). The Bluetooth MAC and the IP addresses are also here. LineageOS only; the stock image doesn't have About Phone.
Wi-Fi in Master Mode (Tethering) N.T. Setup

Works (needs to be set up). IPv4 only. The phone can be in both master and managed mode at the same time, so the client's packets will go out via Wi-Fi. The Galaxy S5 with CM-12 Nougat couldn't do that. If you intend to use cellular data you need to turn off Wi-Fi. More info here.

Bluetooth Box Box

Hardwarewise, Bluetooth worked out of the box on both the stock image and CyanogenMod. Pairing worked the first time, following standard procedures for the devices. Partners tested: 66 BT Sport headphones, ThinkOutside keyboard, Linux laptop. Follow the link for details of what was tested and for how to pair with these devices.

Audio digital signal processor (DSP) N.T. N.T.

It's hard to prove that the principal audio codecs (Vorbis, MP3) are running on the DSP.

Play streaming audio Box Box
  • Internal speaker: Works. Sound quality playing music is far from audiophile quality. There is a speaker on the bottom edge, plus the phone speaker at the top front, for a stereo effect (which I didn't verify explicitly).
  • 3.5mm phone jack: Works.
  • Bluetooth A2DP: Works.
  • Volume switches: Working.
  • It switches during playback between sound sinks. It is not instantaneous but is fairly prompt. On the stock image, if playing on the internal speaker and you plug in a wired headphone, playback switches immediately, but if you unplug the headphone, the player pauses until you press play.

The test media for the above were MP3 and OGG files via Chrome's builtin player (on the stock image). Also tested: MP3 via Icecast.

  While some phones can transmit HDMI from their USB port, the Pioneer can't, according to the Sony support site.
GPS Box Box
 Does it work? Yes on the stock OS and LOS-16. Oops, there's a problem on LOS-17, apps can see the satellites but can't get the service to return a position. Research suggests that this isn't really the phone's fault; when the satellite signals are adequate, GPS works fine. Box LOS-16 LOS-17
  • Does it work? Yes.
  • Claimed position accuracy: 11 meters, with 12 (of 20) satellites and the phone not moving.
  • Stock: the first time it was used, it took only about 10sec to find the satellites.
  • LineageOS: the time to first fix is consistently fast; the majority of trials are under 10sec (after standby overnight). So far I haven't had any really long delays as sometimes happened on the Galaxy S5.
NFC (Near Field Communication)
  Connecting to Galaxy S5 which has NFC, to transfer data to the new phone: NFC worked fine. (Transfer app didn't.) Box N.T.
  Payment (Google Pay): … Details here. The problem is with paranoid security, not the NFC hardware. N.T. Not Really
IRDA (Infrared remote control) N.T. N.T.
  The Pioneer does not have an infrared transmitter.
Fingerprint Reader
  To enroll fingerprints, use Settings - Security & Location - Lock Screen & Security - Fingerprint Manager . Conf Conf
  Use fingerprints to unlock the lock screen. You don't have to press the power button first. It takes some practice to get the finger to be recognized reliably. The sensor or finger gets dirty quickly. After I cleaned both the sensor and the finger with 70% isopropanol (and let dry), in 17 trials I got 13 unlocks, 3 allegedly dirty, and 1 not recognized. Box Box
Magnetometer (compass) Box Box
  Magnetic north is underground in the northern hemisphere, quite a lot even in Los Angeles (32 degrees north), and the indicated side of the phone has to be facing north and down to produce a positive value. +X is rightward (toward power button), +Y is up (toward voice phone speaker), and +Z is to the front. The uniaxial values are around 32 uT for X, 40 uT for Y and 42 uT for Z, meaning this is the value when the phone is turned so the field is parallel to that axis and the others read zero. The Galaxy S5's magnetometer was more consistent among axes.

The magnetometer is at the upper left corner about 2cm from each edge. Iron objects, like a screwdriver or masonry reinforcement of course will affect the readings.

Accelerometer Box Box
 On the Terran surface the reported magnitude of acceleration is between 9.75 and 10.05 m/s2; correct value is 9.8 m/s2.

When I turn the device 180 degrees, the magnitude typically shows a zero offset of 0.15 to 0.3 m/s2; it's hard to be precise with this tester. Example: portrait orientation, Y=9.795, upside down, Y=-9.433, half their sum is 0.181 m/s2. The Galaxy S5's sensor was better, typically 0.04 m/s2.

The axis sensors are reasonably aligned with the chassis. As seen by the Phone Test for Android app (Dastra), +Y is south, i.e. in portrait orientation with the speaker (north) up, Y will be about plus 9.8 m/s2. Remember that gravity is downward on Terra. +X is left (left edge down gives plus) (reverse from Galaxy S5), and +Z is rearward (display up gives plus).

Proximity (face) sensor Box Box
 When you're making a voice call and the phone is close to your face, the display and touch screen are deactivated. When you take it away, they return. This seems to work reasonably and can be useful; one person with a broken proximity sensor complained of opening random apps with his ear. Proximity is recognized when you are around 3cm away from the phone; tester apps report 8cm but that's not the real distance. The sensor is at the top, the small hole between the Sony logo and the front camera. The ambient light sensor is in the same hole.
Notification LED Box Box
  The indicator LED is in the upper right corner. Some of these need to be turned on in the settings. In LineageOS-16 you can adjust the color and brightness of the battery notifications.
  Battery charging Orange Yellow
  Battery full (after charging reaches 90%) Green Green
  Battery very low (15% or below, adjustable) Red flash Red flash
  Boot and Shutdown Blue pulse Off
  SMS or similar message waiting (in LOS the default is green, but I tweaked it to match stock.) Blue flash Blue flash
Ambient Light Sensor Box Box

It works, and influences the display brightness if turned on. The light sensor is in the top row between the Sony logo and the front camera. In direct sunlight it saturates at 50000 lux, but in similar conditions on the Galaxy S5 it reported 140000 lux. In low light it reports 0 lux, 1 lux, 4 lux, and upward in steps of 3. Update: in LOS-18 it reports in steps of 1 lux at least up to 400 lux.

Rear camera with auto focus and flash Box Box
  Specs: 23Mpx, f/2.0, 84° wide angle, calculated about 5530x4150px, empirical 5984x3376px or 5520x4144px. This is about 1.10 pixel/arcmin. Photo file size: 69MiB uncompressed; the stock camera app compresses to 11.6MiB (16%, JPEG quality setting of 97%); OpenCamera compresses to 3.36MiB (4.9%, JPEG quality 75%). Both of these can be adjusted in settings. Size varies depending on how much detail is in the image.
Rear camera works? Yes. BoxBox
Subjective image quality: looks good.
Auto focus: Works effectively. Box Box
Resolution: A photo of text 12 arcmin (0.0035 radian) high is clearly readable, 13.2px high. This would have glyph elements approaching 1 arcmin. The nominal resolution of human vision is 1 arcmin (0.00029 radian). Box Box
Flash: Yes, it flashes. Also works in flashlight mode. Box Box
Color rendition: Determined by the software. Stock (Sony) camera app comes out realistic. LineageOS (AOSP) camera app does a good job. I use OpenCamera, which also does a good job.
Low light performance: Good enough for barcode scanning at 1.0 lux.
Photo Gallery, taken with the camera.
Video capture (with stock app): a 21sec video took 47Mb. MP4 codec, 1920x1080px (what frame rate?) Results were good, limited by the cinematographer's skill. If, as is likely, the frame rate is 30fps, an uncompressed image would occupy 3.92e9 bytes, so it was compressed to 1.2%. Box Box
Front camera Box Box
 Specs: 8Mpx, f/2.4, 120° wide angle. No auto focus, no flash. Calculated about 3250x2450px.
Front camera works? Yes. Box Box
Color rendition: decent.
Video capture or video chat: Testing with IP Webcam, which obtained and transmitted the image normally. Box Box
Otter: Portrait of Selen
Photo Credit