Sony’s Xperia phones are well-recognizable without a doubt. When you see one you know it is a Xperia as Sony has done very little to change the overall design aesthetic of their phones in years. The latest flagship phone from the tech giant is the Xperia XZ1 and at a glance, it may look like an average run of the mill Xperia phone but it is actually not. Packing a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 19MP rear-facing camera, HDR and one of the first phones to come with Android 8.0 Oreo on it. There is much going on inside as the outside lacks.
Sony Xperia XZ1 Tech Specs
- Weight: 155g
- Dimensions: 148 x 73 x 7.4 mm
- OS: Android 8.0 Orea=o
- Screen Size: 5.2-inch, 16:9 Ratio
- Resolution: 1920×1080
- CPU: Snapdragon 835 4×2.25 GHz Kyro
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 64GB expandable up to 256GB
- Battery: 2700 mAh
- Rear Camera: 19MP laser autofocus 2K
- Front Camera: 13MP
Sony’s Xperia phones are starting to feel dated and the same can be said for the Xperia XZ1. When you have edge-to-edge phones on the market with glass backs and stainless steel trims, the standard becomes much higher and unfortunately, the Xperia XZ1still bears the same old design as the range has for four years now. It does have a slimmer design and the metal finish feels premium but with thinner bezels being all the rage especially with LG, Samsung and Apple’s iPhone X moving into the future, the XZ1 big black bars on the bottom and top of the front display feels very stuck in 2016.
While Sony is not the only company to keep bezels, it would be great to see a Xperia in 2018 lose them as the phones would greatly benefit from this design movement. We also see a 1mm reduce in thickness compared to the XZ and unlike the past device, the XZ1 seems to be made out of one chunk of aluminium that wraps beautifully around the back of the device. We reviewed the black model and the antenna bands are well hidden on this shade thanks to them being darker in colour too. There are also much less of them present on the XZ1 with a thin band coming out of both the left and right side that loop around and go back into the phone. Sony’s signature sim card tray is back and the SD card slot is easier to remove too thanks to the flap. The unlock button has not been moved staying on the side of the device for easy access. The camera button is nicely placed too that makes it easy to take photos when holding the device in both the horizontal and verticle position. The Xperia XZ1 is also water-resistant and uses the USB Type-C charging port. Yes, it does have a headphone jack too. One new feature that we loved was the stereo speakers. One at the bottom and one at the top. Sony’ys S-Force technology also boasts a better sound quality and it was an overall pleasure to watch Netflix and YouTube on the device as the sound was great.
Overall, the design of the XZ1 is the same with a few added tweaks here and there. Still, we cannot help but feel that Sony needs a massive redesign to place the Xperia devices on the same level as its competition. Those who loved the past devices will love the look and feel of this one but once you have used a bezel-less smartphone there is no going back.
Display and Performance
Sony has had a couple of fantastic displays on their devices. The Z5 Premium had a stunning 4K display, and with so many phones moving to QHD and up, you would think Sony would too but this is not the case with the XZ1. Instead, Sony put in a 1080p display on this model. While it is a full HD display, it at least boasts HDR support that means the display is extremely bright, colours are clearer and streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix look amazing on supported content. Overall, Streaming is great thanks to the HDR display and the stereo speakers. Yes, it is a 1080p display but it does its job.
When it comes to battery life of the XZ1 is it as average as phones can get. We cannot expect a two-day charge on phones anymore especially at the size of the XZ1. While devices like the iPhone 8 Plus can deliver much better life than most phones due to its size and more capacity for a battery, the XZ1 does a great job with what it has. A full charge makes it through a day without a problem but a nighttime charge will be necessary to repeat the same process the next day. You can always top it up a bit in the morning if you have not used the battery much during the day thanks to the rate which the device charges.
Out of the box, the XZ1 comes with Android Oreo and it is one of the first phones to do so. The operating system combined with the Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM makes for a smooth and fantastic user experience. Multitasking is flawless and opening apps general use of the phone is great. No lag or stuttering between what you are doing at all. Android Oreo also marks one of the of the most redefined and smoothest Android experiences we have ever used and it goes hand in hand with the Xperia’s great custom UI.
The camera on the Xperia XZ1 is the same one found on the XZ Premium in which it struggles in low light but delivers fantastic daylight shots and can record that super-awesome 960fps slow-mo video. The camera does boast a few extra features such as Sony’s predictive phase detection that lets you capture burst shots while still keeping the focus on moving subject. This is possible due to the device’s laser autofocus.
With general use, the Xperia XZ1 is great. It could handle low-light better and daylight is where it truly shines. The low-light, however, is the issue we had since most phones, yet again, beat the XZ1’s camera when it comes to snapping at night.
One of the exclusive features on the XZ1 is the new 3D Scan app that lets you use the rear-facing camera to build a detailed 3D model of anything you could dream of. We loved using it but at the same time, it felt a bit gimmicky. There is also the option to take your model and print it using a 3D printer thanks to the fact that the phone saves the model as an OBJ file. We did not have one to test this out on. The process is quick and easy and we were impressed at the speed and overall rendering of the scan. The 3D Creator also lets you edit your creations too such as adjusting the scans exposure, and morphing it as you wish with your fingers. This way you can increase your smile, neck, or even the overall size of the object. You just need good lighting and you are good to go ahead and start scanning your object.
With that being said, we feel as if this whole 3D Creator mode is similar to the slo-mo cameras of the day. You never really use any of the features but it is cool to have it anyway. Sony does seem invested in the technology so we can only hope it grows from here.
The Sony Xperia XZ1 is a great device but for it being a flagship we just want more. With phones doing more, looking better, handling stunning photos in low-light, and of course offering more screen space the XZ1 is just not there. There are better phones on the market that have moved away from the gimmicks which make the XZ1 a hard sell. If you are a Xperia fan then this is without a doubt the model to buy but if you want a phone of the future then perhaps give this one a skip and hope that Sony moves onto something new in 2018.