Sony Xperia XZ Review

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium might be arriving in the next few months, that means we will see their flagship from last year drop in price. So why not take a look and see what you might get for a modest price.

Looking around the device. On the top, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a larger than normal microphone hole. This is of note as for when I unboxed the phone there was a little piece of packaging lodged in the hole.

On one side there is nothing other than the Nano sim and MicroSD card tray.

The other side is pretty busy. Midway is the power button, this doubles as the fingerprint sensor and it’s a fine location. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect location for a fingerprint sensor and we all either have our own preference or are happy to take it where the manufacturer decides to put it.

Below this is a volume rocker, and this feels like a mistake. The rocker is exactly where you naturally pick up the device and whilst pressing it when the screen is off has no effect there is still a mild concern that this is a button you are pressing and therefore might have an effect sometime.

Towards the bottom is a small, dedicated camera button. Holding this button in activates the camera when the screen if off. An annoyance the odd time as I have lifted it only to have the camera open before I got to the fingerprint sensor. However, there is a fail safe if you were to accidentally hit is as the camera when putting the phone in your pocket as it exits the camera app after 20 seconds. Again another annoyance if you are looking a quick shot and you might have been a little premature activating the camera is you might have to open the app again as it has timed out. A no win situation for the button, however, it’s good to have a dedicated hardware button.

At the bottom beside another larger microphone hole is the USB Type-C connector. A great addition for an older phone, the connector adds ‘Qnovo Adaptive Charging’ technology, which Sony claims will help to extend the battery life of the smartphone, and fast charging using Constant-Current, Constant Voltage charging (CCCV). More on this later.

 

Under the fingerprints on the back is the simple and elegant Xperia logo on the “Loop surface” made from “alkaleido” metal. Loop is designed to give the phone the appearance of a seamless unit. To the top is the 23Mp sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, 24mm lens, phase detection autofocus and an LED flash. Sony has deployed triple image sensing technology comprising of three individual sensors. First is an imaging sensor for movement, seconds a laser autofocus for measuring distance and third is an RGBC-IR sensor for accurate colour reproduction.

The front has the 5.2in IPS display in previous Xperia models over the years. This Full HD screen displays bright and vibrant images however as a 4K smartphone the screen would have benefited from a Quad HD screen.

Above this is a 13Mp camera featuring a generous 22mm wide-angle lens. Above and before the screen are two front facing speakers to enhance your video consumption.

All this is wrapped up in that “alkaleido” metal and given a water resistance of IP68, allowing the phone to be submerged in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes.

Under the hood, the XZ has a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 with 3GB of RAM, for its time this was about as good as you could get. Now, it seems a little dated however it’s more than powerful to handle Android 7.0.1 Nougat and all the demands of the modern mobile. Putting the phone through its paces showed no signs of slowing down and ran multiple tasks and some of the latest game with ease.

Compared to other devices, the XZ is still pretty nippy. Running it through the obligatory benchmarks sees reasonable scores, beaten by newer devices with more up to date chip-sets.

With the triple image sensing technology mentioned earlier, it’s a surprise that the camera isn’t amazing. I fully expected Sony to have some phenomenal results as with the Z5 the year prior, however with the 1/2.3in Exmor RS sensor, 24mm wide-angle G Lens the results were good, but not excellent. Certainly, the shots as far from poor, however, there is an annoying amount of grain in the images and the night sensor worked well in very low-level light, didn’t quite push the envelope. This is certainly a serviceable camera for the majority out there, however, there are better options out there, unfortunately.

There are a number of pre-installed apps like Facebook, Sony News Suite, Xperia Lounge and Movie Creator, Lifelog and Sketch, however, these are added fluff that might be of use to a few, but certainly not the majority.

The Xperia XZ has a fairly large 2,900mAh battery and this keeps the device alive for around 2 days of light to medium use. For charging the “Qnovo” technology here seems to have been surpassed by other rapid, fast charging solutions as the XZ feels slow. Charging the device from 5% to 100% took a little over 90 minutes.

All in the Sony Xperia XZ is a great phone. If you can get it at a low price you will be going well. There are flaws however a lower price tag makes them very easy to overlook.

Thanks to Vodafone UK for the loan of this device.

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