Sony’s last round of devices didn’t quite hit the nail directly and it showed Sony were still unsure on the direction for their Smartphones. Their 6 month release window saw their latest devices becoming more and more stale with each new smartphone only offering subtle changes, and last year we saw even less.
The Xperia X simply didn’t need to exist and the flagship Xperia X Performance barely offered anything offer the competition let alone their previous flagship devices, but still had a fairly beefy price tag.
This time around Sony have taken steps to admit they lost their direction, and the latest Xperia XZ is an aim in a better direction for the smartphone manufacturer.
Before jumping into the design of the device, let’s take a look at the Specs of the phone.
- Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
- Display: 5.2″ Triluminos display, 1080p resolution (441ppi) with Gorilla Glass
- Chipset: Snapdragon 820 (2 x 2.15GHz +2 x 1.6GHz), Adreno 530 GPU, 3GB RAM
- Memory: 32GB, expandable with microSD cards
- Rear Camera: 23MP Sony IMX300 Sensor, 24mm, f/2.0, Predictive Hybrid AF, 4K Video,
- Front Camera: 13MP camera with 1080p@30fps video
- Networking: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, standard microUSB 2.0 port, GPS receiver, 3.5 mm audio jack
- Modem: LTE Cat.9 (450/50 Mbps)
- Other: Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic, 24-bit/192kHz Hi-Res audio, Fingerprint Sensor, Sterep Speakers, Quick Charge 3.0, USB Type-C
- Dimensions: 142.7 x 69.4 x 7.9 mm
- Battery: 2,900mAh
Much like previous Sony device, we’re only seeing an incremental change to the overall design, but the small improvements that have been made to improve the grip of the device – as we now have more rounded sides.
The top and bottom of the device is completely flat – so much so, that you can even stand the device up right on its own.
The rear side of the device contains the main camera, focus sensors, and dual-tone flash. Again, much like previous Sony flagships, the rear camera is flushed with the back of the device. The device itself is only 7.9 mm thick.
Water/dust resistance is thankfully in tow, and so we have the typical Sim/MicroSD tray on the left side of the device.
Lastly the power button/fingerprint reader, volume rocker, and dual-press camera button are all located on the right side of the device.
Thankfully Sony are again keeping the UI pretty much vanilla Android. There are some Sony apps included, with some non-removable.
The camera UI has always been somewhat of a let down when it comes to Sony devices. Mostly because the camera’s themselves are always top notch.
The layout seems very messy at times, and while that wasn’t much of an issue in the past: we had hoped that Sony would find a better way after adding so many new features.
Picture and video modes are separated, along with all of their settings. 4K is also another serperate mode altogether and isn’t an option under video resolution.
The app does notify that sometimes if the phone gets too hot a few features won’t work until the devices cools. Thankfully we didn’t notice the device getting too warm or actually lost any functionality on the camera.
While navigating the menu doesn’t take long to get use too, it can become a chore after awhile.
Photos and Video
The included 23MP sensor isn’t just good on paper and gives some incredible photos. Quality isn’t something Sony are lacking when it comes to the picture taking side of things, and the Xperia XZ is no different. They have included a top notch sensor that will provide some of the best quality photos you can expect from a smartphone.
Full size images
The above images are resized for viewing on the website. If you wish to check out the full size images, you can do so with the link below.
Now let’s take a look at some videos taken with the Xperia XZ. The phone supports 1080p/1080p@60fps and also includes a dedicated 4K mode.
Performance is important on any device, and even more so when it’s a flagship, as ultimately you want to be certain that the expensive device you shell out for can perform perfectly.
The Xperia XZ includes the Snapdragon 820 chipset that we have seen quite a few time already and are already pretty sure it’s up to the challenge.
|3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited||29627|
|3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme||2627|
|Geekbench 3 Single-Core||1600|
|Geekbench 3 Multi-Core||3617|
|Vellamo Browser (Chrome)||4570|
Sony have done a lot of software tricks in an effort to extend battery life on their devices for the past few years, and the Xperia XZ is no different. The biggest factor is power saving as the battery life becomes low, but ultimately battery life is more important before reaching low levels. The included 2,900mAh battery isn’t as high as we have seen from similar sized devices, so in future we hope to see Sony fit bigger batteries in their devices.
Below is our battery test with our usage aimed at medium-high over a 12 hour period.
|Phone Calls||20-30 Minutes|
|Text message/Chat/Emails||Throughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent|
|Video recording||20-30 Minutes|
|Internet browsing||Throughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)|
|Connectivity||WiFi and 4G; mostly 4G|
After our 12 hour period, we had just under 40-percent battery life left, which is great and means we can easily get a full day of medium-heavy usage. The included stamina mode can easily take 15-percent battery life for an extra day or so, but mostly because it limits a lot of functions on the device.
We have reached the end of our review, and now it’s time to wrap up our thoughts on the Xperia XZ and the direction Sony have taken with their latest flagship device.
Sony have only ever made subtle changes to their devices the last few years, and while their new devices have always carried a very similar design to previous devices, that could be said about most manufacturers when it comes to flagship devices; all but a few.
The Xperia XZ takes a similar approach with curved/rounded sides, which always offered a comfortable grip and Sony have kept the device nice and thin without a protruding camera sensor on the back.
Ultimately it’s hard for a design to change all that much without getting into curved displays or intricate designs that we feel mostly increase the cost of a device, and lack any benefit. Thankfully Sony have continued their water/dust resistance efforts and again include MicroSD slot.
While Sony have only made subtle changes to their designs, they have kept the important aspects/features that matter, and that’s something we’re glad to see. Perhaps they can take more risks in the future and bring something different/new to the table.
We have seen a lot of devices with 2,560 x 1,440 resolutions and while Sony have released the Xperia Z5 premium with a 4K display, they have mostly kept to 1080p resolutions for their initial flagship devices. Unless your going to be doing something VR related, we feel they have made the right choice, as a really good 1080p display is indistinguishable from a good 1440p display most of the time.
The Xperia XZ offers great brightness, colour reproduction, and overall quality. We doubt anyone would think otherwise.
Sony have always been one of the top contenders when it comes to Smartphone cameras, and mostly because they make the sensors for themselves and a lot of other manufacturers. The Xperia XZ offers a great 23MP sensor that Sony have engineered to include extra focusing/color sensors to really give the overall camera better photo quality.
Thankfully we can confirm that the Xperia XZ offers one of the best cameras on the market, and the only real let down is the less than stellar Camera App that could really do with some UI improvements. That’s not to say it doesn’t get the job done, but ultimately navigation could be a little better.
The Xperia Xz includes the Snapdragon 820 chipset, which we have seen many times before and have no problem recommending as it provides amazing performance and still dominates the market today. The XZ handles everything that we threw at it, and were glad to see that nothing slowed down or became laggy.
Battery life has mostly been somewhat of an issue for Sony in the past, and mostly because their devices never included batteries as large as their competitors. However, Sony have always managed to include extensive software features for extending battery life when needed.
The Xperia XZ does thankfully include large enough battery to give us a full day of heavy usage, with 2-days medium-heavy usaage possible with lower brightness and perhaps less gaming or camera usage. The software features will easily take 15-percent battery life for an extra 20+ hours if needed, but of course without most of the main functions of the phone.
We’re please to see a strong offering with Sony and the Xperia XZ. Over the past years Sony have released more flagship devices than any other competitor, but never really offering much over their previous devices, and mostly bringing incremental updates and extremely subtle design changes.
The Xperia XZ is proof that Sony haven’t lost it just yet, and are definitely moving back in the right direction. We’re happy to see the XZ tick all the right boxes, bar pricing, which is something Sony are going to have to work on if they wish to compete in the sim free/pay as you go market.
We have a great display, amazing camera, solid performance, and great design with water/dust resistance in tow. If you can get a good price from your mobile provider, than we can easily recommend the Xperia XZ for anyone looking for a great smartphone with top class camera, and on that note we award the Xperia XZ with Gold.