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Sony Xperia XZ1 Review: Loads of Fun and Creativity with the Finest of Android

Vinu Varughese Oommen
Technology Reporter
Editors Rating
While Apple forays into augmented reality with their latest iPhone series, Sony’s 3D Creator application lets users create 3D avatars of their friends or families and use them with loads of AR fun and creativity. The Sony Xperia XZ1 is perhaps the best Xperia made till date in a slim and light form-factor. Read our review of Sony Xperia XZ1 to find out more.

8.5
overall
Very Good
Pros: Very slim in design with premium construction, Dual front-facing speakers, Impressive image quality with fast autofocus, 960fps slow-motion and 3D scanning is fun to use, Performance is fast and snappy, Decent battery life
Cons: Large bezels are becoming a thing of the past, Aperture of the main camera is still the same as previous generations, Slow-motion videos at indoor situations generates a lot of noise.

Sony Xperia XZ1 main image

When it comes to slim and light smartphones with stellar cameras, Sony still stands as some of the best in the market. With the competition picking up the pace, Sony recently launched the Sony Xperia XZ1 flagship in the UAE with a camera that can capture 3D scans. We review the smartphone to find out its capabilities. 

Design and Features of Sony Xperia XZ1

While most of the smartphone makers are now focusing on bezel-less design, Sony continues to refine its existing line of Xperia smartphones with a thinner and lighter body profile. Without checking the official specification sheet, we could immediately notice that the Xperia XZ1 is thinner and lighter than the previous Xperia XZ. In terms of dimensions, the new smartphone is 7.4mm thick and weighs only 155g. On the contrary, the previous Xperia XZ has a thickness of 8.1mm and weighed about 161g. However, both the smartphones pack the same 5.2-inch IPS display with a pixel density of 424ppi. I really wish that Sony had reduced the bezels on the top and bottom of the display. Had Sony reduced the bezels of the screen, the Xperia XZ1 would have been a tough competitor towards the likes of Samsung, LG and Apple’s latest flagships.

Holding the Sony Xperia XZ1

The display produces crisp colors and vivid colors, thanks to Sony’s TRILUMINOS image enhancements and the outdoor visibility of the screen is good enough even under the sunny weather of Dubai. However, I should mention that in our review of Sony Xperia XZ1, we found the whites and other colors appear to be a bit warm. That said, the display offers support for HDR10 content for Netflix and YouTube streaming.

There are also the dual front-facing stereo speakers that sound pretty good. Our review teram love the way how the metal edge of the Xperia XZ1 is seamlessly curved towards the rear side of the device. You can see the phone bands on the upper end of either side. That said, the fingerprint scanner/home button, the volume rocker and the dedicated camera shutter are located on the right side of the device.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Fingerprint Scanner

I liked the part where the fingerprint scanner on the Xperia XZ1 is also painted in black that goes along with the overall look of the device, although, we hope that the paint doesn’t wear off in course of time and usage. The rear metal panel of the Sony Xperia XZ1 is completely flat and plain, except for the top portion that holds the Motion Eye camera. The flash module and the NFC sensor are shifted and aligned horizontally at the upper middle portion.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Back Panel

Despite the slim body profile, the Xperia XZ1 holds a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. The USB Type-C port is located at the bottom edge as usual. While Sony was one of the few that always produced waterproof smartphones in the past, it’s evident that the company will not be on the sidelines with the likes of Samsung, LG, and Apple. The Xperia XZ1 is certified with IP65/IP68. It means that the device is resistant to dust and water up to 1.5m deep underwater for a duration of 30 minutes.

Sony Xperia XZ1 water test

Performance

The Sony Xperia XZ1 comes armed with the fastest Snapdragon 835 processor. The chip consists of eight Kyro cores in total, four of which are clocked at 2.35 GHz for high performance and the other four at 1.9GHz as low-power cores. The processor is supported with 4GB LPDDR4 RAM under its hood for fast multitasking and the 64GB of internal storage is based on the fast UFS memory. While these specifications are the same as other Android flagships in the market, the Xperia XZ1 is currently the only high-end smartphone that comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. This is a good selling point for all those Android enthusiasts who want to get their hands on the latest software.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Benchmarks

About the real-world performance of the device, the Xperia XZ1 performed really snappy during our review. Unlike other companies, I’m glad that Sony uses a near-stock UI experience for all its smartphones with minimum bloatware. The software smoothly transitions between different menus, apps and page settings without any lags on the Xperia XZ1. In our camera review centre, we ran benchmark software like Antutu and Geekbench, so check out the scores on the image above.

Camera and Image Quality

Sony Xperia XZ1 Camera

Since Sony excels in making professional cameras, it’s quite obvious that their flagship smartphones will pack the latest in mobile camera technology. The main USP of the Xperia XZ1 is its 19MP Motion Eye camera, featuring a powerful memory-stacked image sensor for generating great images and handling content that needs high-speed processing with the BIONZ mobile image processor. The redesigned G lens for mobile helps to capture details and colors accurately. The autofocus is really fast on this camera and the continuous burst mode is great if you’re trying to capture fast action movements.

While the competition has gone ahead to offer apertures up to F1.6, Sony still continues to offer an aperture of F2.0 for its main shooter of the Xperia XZ1. We really hope that Sony steps up their game and offers brighter apertures from next year onwards. The same goes for the 13MP front-facing camera with F2.0 aperture. This doesn’t mean that the current F2.0 aperture is bad by any means. The image quality of the camera has noticeably improved over its previous generation (The Sony Xperia Z5 series was rather quite disappointing at certain instances despite the hype back then, especially in low-light conditions). That said, the Sony Xperia XZ1 performed very well while we captured images during day and night. We wouldn’t say it’s the very best, but it’s there at the top among the big leagues.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Camera Manual Controls

Before we go ahead to check out the samples, let me remind you that the main camera can go to a maximum of ISO 12800 for low-light images and up to ISO 4000 for low-light videos. There is also the triple image sensing technology that’s capable of analyzing, adapting and capture the right moments in tough situations, thanks to the sensor that predicts the movements of your subjects, the laser AF system to calculate the distance and the RGBC-IR sensor for adjusting the colors and white balance. We shot all the images with Superior Auto mode, although, you can use the manual mode that lets you control the ISO, shutter speed, white balance, Ev and focus. However, it seems you can’t tweak the aperture of the camera in manual mode. Also, you only get to control the white balance and Ev for the front camera manual mode.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Day time shot

Sony Xperia XZ1 Day time shot

Sony Xperia XZ1 Day Macro shot

Sony Xperia XZ1 Day Night shot

Sony Xperia XZ1 Day Night shot

During our review of Sony Xperia XZ1, we also tried out the 960fps super slo-mo technology, which was very impressive. However, we did notice some grains while capturing in indoor situations and at night. Click here for a good sample. But the latest feature is its 3D Creator app that lets you scan an object or even a face (you will need to go through some basic training to scan a face, which won’t take long).  After the scans are complete, you can upload the scan to social media, Sketchfab, save as a file, make it your live wallpaper, or even create 3D avatars to play them in AR mode. While using the AR mode, you can select the type of costumes and different postures before recording a video or snapping the image (these videos can be shared on social media too). Other features include 4K video recording at 30fps and SteadyShot 5-axis stabilization to reduce the shakes.

Sony Xperia XZ1 3D app and AR

Battery life of Sony Xperia XZ1

Sony Xperia XZ1 USB Type-C

It seems for some reason, Sony decided to go for a smaller battery than its predecessor. While the Xperia XZ packed a 2900 mAh battery, the latest Xperia XZ1 houses a slightly smaller 2700 mAh power source and supports fast charge support with the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology. After continuously using the Xperia XZ1 for making some phone calls, a lot of slow-motion recording, 3D scans with AR and web browsing, I can conclude that the device can last for almost a day at best. However, I did notice that the camera-centric features such as the slow-motion capture do indeed eat up the battery life at a fast pace.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Review Verdict:

While I’ve come across many reviews of Sony Xperia XZ1 which point out that Sony doesn’t bring anything new to the table and uses the same old blocky design, that isn’t really the case this time with the latest Xperia XZ1. The smartphone is noticeably slimmer than previous generations and its metal construction with its seamless curves makes the device look beautiful, although, the rear metal panel does attract smudges and dirt easily. Apart from its top-notch performance, the device comes preinstalled with Android 8.0 Oreo as a bonus. The camera has definitely improved over previous generations and the slow-motion is still fun to use since its introduction with the Xperia XZ Premium. That said, the 3D Creator application pushes Sony’s development in the world of mobile augmented reality. Perhaps we will see better and creative AR innovations in the future.

The Sony Xperia XZ1 is priced at AED 2199 in Dubai, UAE

Tags:Mobile Phone Electronics Android Sony