• Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Sony Xperia XZ1 review - Refreshed flagship

Introduction


After the very popular “Z” lineup, which brought enormous market success to Sony with its amazing glass design on both front and the back of devices, Sony has changed the naming scheme of their premium devices. Now we have the XZ lineup, first device of which was unveiled in October 2016 – the XZ. In the meantime, we could see the XZ Premium, which boasted with its HDR10 display and crazy 4K resolution. Also, on the XZ Premium we could see the new Sony camera sensor which was capable of recording videos at 960fps. Alongside the XZ Premium, Sony announced the XZs, which was a weaker version on the Premium with a less capable chipset and smaller resolution of the display, but still capable of 960fps videos.



A lot of weaker devices which accompany the Premium one make the whole thing convoluted, but we are used to the fact that Premium devices bring the best and the shiniest, and that alongside them weaker devices are also unveiled. Similar to the “Z” lineup, Sony continues with adding the number to the name of their devices and this way we have the new – XZ1. It should be a device which should fill the gap between the XZ Premium and its younger brother – the XZ1 Compact. Inside the factory box of the XZ1 we can find: user manuals, USB Type-C cable, a Sony fast charging adapter and 3.5mm headphones with some spare earbuds. In our test we have the Black color option, but next to it Warm Silver, Venus Pink and Moonlit Blue are also available.



Water resistance, HDR display, excellent camera and well-known design, as the trademarks of the Xperia lineup, are all here. Our impressions of the XZ1? Feel free to check out.

 

Video review


Unboxing


Display


Sony has made us used to seeing excellent displays which have always stood up among competitors, at least regarding built-in functions. This is how we had a chance to see the first smartphone with 4K resolution display being made by Sony, and now we have the HDR10 support as well. The 5.2” display of the XZ1 really is of ideal dimensions, and it’s amazing. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, and it shows up to 16 million colors. This diagonal paired with FullHD resolution of the display results in 424 PPI. Aspect ratio of the display is 16:9.



We are used to seeing IPS LCD displays in Sony devices, and it is here as well. Since this device does not follow the latest trend of curved display corners and minimal side bezels, the screen to body ratio of the front panel is slightly above 68%. Brightness of the panel is pretty decent, but the contrast is on the weaker end. The general impression is very good, because 424 pixels per inch still stands as a very good number, making the sharpness of the panel very good. Visibility on the sunlight is excellent, and it leaves no room for complaints. Next to HDR support, we can also find the X-Reality Engine which serves to improve video reproduction. There is also the Triluminous Display, the mode which offers amazing brightness with vivid colors. Although this is a device which does not focus on the display, the general impression of it is rather good, especially since this device is future-ready supporting HDR content. FullHD resolution perhaps isn’t on par with the competitors, but it also has some advantages – great performances and longer battery life

Hardware and OS


This is a real treat! The hardware built into this device is, in one word – outstanding! We have the best chipset Qualcomm has to offer at the moment – the Snapdragon 835. Something that makes us particularly happy is the combination of this CPU and the resolution which we have mentioned. This is a very well-known premium class CPU: the octacore CPU with 4 cores clocked at 2.45 GHz and another 4 clocked at 1.9 GHz, and as icing on the cake – the brutal Adreno 540. The octacore CPU guarantees remarkable performance under pressure and during heavy multitasking. The CPU is, as mentioned, divided into 2 clusters, and the 4 weaker cores are focused on executing everyday tasks which extends the battery life. Adreno 540 paired with FullHD resolution of the panel. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It really is! The XZ1 offers performances which rank among the best in smartphone industry. Everything works smoothly, with no lag at all. 3D performances are outstanding, so the XZ1 supports all the newest and the greatest games while offering a big framerate. AnTuTu benchmark showed score of 163 564.



 RAM memory has the capacity of 4GB and there is only one storage option – the 64GB, which is fortunately expandable via a microUSB card up to 256GB. The fingerprint scanner is placed on a very convenient place, on the right side of the device, so unlocking the device with the thumb of your right hand feels very easy. It is also lightning fast. The XZ1 is one of the first devices which out-of-the-box come with Android 8.0 Oreo OS. You can check some of the main features of Sony made Oreo OS here : Android 8.0 Oreo by Sony.



While we were testing it, the first update to the OS was released which brought security patches for October. Everything works perfectly well. The device is IP68 certified for water resistance and dust proofing, which has become a trademark for Xperia devices. Another thing which is a big plus, and goes hand in hand with the multimedia identity of the Xperia lineup are – the front facing stereo speakers of great quality. The sound is very clear and loud, and with nice, deep basses. Way to go Sony!
 

Camera


The new Sony sensor made its debut on the XZ Premium. It is the 19MP Sony IMX400 ExmorRS sensor, which can boast in recording videos at 960fps using a designated memory buffer next to the sensor. Results are nothing short of spectacular! Phase Detection Auto-focus and Laser Auto-focus are both here, as is the electronic image stabilization (EIS). The shutter speed is great. Other camera modes are: Geo-Tagging, Touch Focus, Face Detection, HDR and Panorama. Pictures are perfectly clear, and they no longer suffer from blurry corners which were typical for Xperia devices. Color reproduction, as well as contrast, is great. Videos are captured in 4K resolution, and one of the key features are the 960fps videos in HD resolution, exactly as those made by the XZ Premium. The latest maximum was 240fps in HD resolution, but Sony has gone a step further by implementing the memory buffer next to the main camera, which allows you to record parts of videos in astonishing 960fps.



The main camera supports several modes:
Superior Auto - which automatically adjusts camera parameters
Manual - which offers a great deal of settings, similar to DSLR cameras
Video - which captures video
Camera Apps - which offers some camera applications such as: AR Effect, Creative Effect, Sound Photos and Panorama 

The new thing is “Predictive Capture” which will capture a few frames before shooting the image in order to let you chose the right moment and the most fitting photo.



Another interesting application is definitely the 3D creator, which is separated from the camera application. It is a software which lets you make a 3D model of the face using the main camera. The front facing camera is also very good, and it offers 13MP resolution and Auto-Focus for perfectly sharp photos with plenty of details. The shutter speed is great on the front facing camera as well. Videos are captured in FullHD resolution at 30fps with the addition of continuous auto-focus system. A thing which is improved compared to the earlier devices is that the 4K video mode is now placed into the resolution settings menu instead of being a separate video mode. Sony really does pay attention to reviews! A disadvantage is definitely the lack of optical image stabilization (OIS), but it’s somewhat mitigated with EIS (electronic image stabilization). Although Sony is losing the race with the competitors in terms of implementing double cameras in their devices, good sensors and excellent results fix this issue. And, of course, we must not disregard the dedicated button for taking photos on the right side of the device. It’s been a while since you’ve last seen it, right? Although it could be a little bigger, it works perfectly well, and it is far easier to use that the on screen button.

 

Connectivity


We’re used to having a lot of connection options in Sony devices, and the XZ1 is no exception. This device comes in two options: SingleSIM and DualSIM. We are testing the G8431 version which supports only one SIM card. The XZ1 uses the USB Type-C connector for charging and data transfer, which is very welcome since the market as a whole is migrating towards the Type-C standard. Every multimedia device has to have the 3.5mm headphone port, so your XZ1 can be paired with your favorite 3.5mm headphones. When it comes to wireless connections, we have:
  • WiFi 802.11 (HotSpot)
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • A-GPS (GLONASS, BDS)
  • DLNA

The device supports 4G connections, and supported frequencies are:
  • 2G GSM – 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
  • 3G UMTS – 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
  • 4G
 
 

Battery


Although it doesn’t have a huge capacity, the 2700 mAh battery showed amazing results. Well optimized software, good screen resolution and low power cores of the powerful chipset all do the trick. This device, of course, supports fast charging through the Type-C connector, and it uses Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology which will charge the XZ1 0-100% is about 90 minutes. The fast charger comes inside the factory box. Sadly, wireless charging is not supported, and the battery is non-removable. We also liked the Ultra STAMINA mode that should provide you even extra juice from battery.


Final words


Many things could be taken as a downside of the XZ1. In the time of “infinite” displays and double main cameras, Sony has made a bold move with the classic design which is familiar since 2013 and the Xperia Z (C6603). Stereo speakers are definitely a home run, as well as undisputable 960fps videos. But what exactly has the XZ1 to offer for the price which is just below far more advanced Samsung devices? Not quite that much. We are looking forward to seeing the announced changes regarding the design of Xperia devices, but until then we are left with just a partially good impression.

Do you like the Sony Xperia XZ1? We’d like to see your opinion in the comment section below. If you have any ideas or you would like to see a specific device being reviewed soon, feel free to let us know here or on our Facebook page. If you liked this review, subscribe to our Youtube channel, like us on Facebook, and sit back and relax while we make more of the same for you.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Full Specifications
 

Advantages and disadvantages

Reasons for and against it

HDR display
amazing hardware
front facing stereo speakers
exceptional quality cameras
microUSB storage expansion
2013 design
screen to body ratio is not following the trends
competitors mostly have double camera setups with amazing Portrait modes
only the 64GB storage option