The Xperia X Performance comes loaded with Android 6.0.1 out of the box, complete with a custom skin that’s part stock Android and part visual changes.
There is a ton of bloatware on this device. There are five duplicate apps (gallery, music, email, app store, and music identification), plus at collection of completely unnecessary apps (Amazon Shopping, AVG Protection, Spotify, Xperia Lounge, and a TV guide app) that users could just download from the Play Store.
On top of that, another four apps (Weather, News, Sketch, and a fitness app called Lifelog) I suspect users won’t use over their third-party favorites.
And if you’re thinking about simply uninstalling the bloatware apps, you can’t: the best you can do is disable the app, which removes it from the app drawer. It is unfortunate to say but Sony isn't alone in this kind of behavior. Samsung tends to act similarly when it bundles apps depending on the carrier you use.
I was impressed with one inclusion on this device: SwiftKey as the default keyboard. Most first-party keyboard apps are garbage, so I’m glad Sony has opted to use what's arguably the best third-party keyboard. Needless to say, the typing experience on this handset is excellent from the get go.
Sony’s software skin is similar to stock Android in many respects. The homescreen is a neat 4x5 grid with an app drawer, while the notification pane is the version found in stock Android, complete with handy quick toggles. The style used in Sony’s first-party apps, like the contacts and messages apps, is reminiscent of Google’s design language and fits in well with other Android apps.
Of the mountain of apps included on the X Performance, only one truly adds something you can’t find on other devices: the PlayStation app. In this app, you can use PS4 Remote Play to stream games from your PS4 to the X Performance, which transforms this handset into a handy accessory for your PS4.
If someone is using the TV, this functionality gives users the ability to play their favorite console games on their phone screen.
There’s a Sony Support and a Diagnostics app included on the off chance you need help from Sony or something has gone wrong with the X Performance; handy inclusions when you need them, but otherwise not very exciting.
Sony has included a few useful features that you’ll find hidden among the settings. Miracast for screen mirroring is included alongside Google Cast and DLNA for media sharing, and MirrorLink for car head unit integration. There’s also full theming support, which is becoming a popular feature to include.
More technical features include an automatic storage and memory optimizer based on the frequency of app use, full control over system icons, great battery saver modes, and a collection of potentially useful audio features (including support for high-resolution audio).
Sony’s software update track record is poor. The X Performance is still stuck on the April security patch level at the time of writing, which is now three months out of date at the time of writing this review. Judging by past Sony flagships, I have little faith that Sony will pump out regularly security patches, or even update this handset to Android Nougat in a timely fashion. Stick to Nexus handsets or a more reliable company if you want a phone that receives frequent software updates.