Sony Xperia XZ review
The new X series flagship smartphone
This Sony Xperia XZ review takes a look at the phone’s innovative new tech, such as triple image sensing technology, Battery Care software and ALKALEIDO metal.
The Sony Xperia XZ is set for a UK launch in October 2016 and will be Sony’s latest flagship smartphone.
Design - ALKALEIDO metal
The Sony Xperia XZ stands apart from previous Sony smartphones, by its use of ALKALEIDO metal, which has high purity, brightness and shine. The metal back is part of a unified design loop surface, created for a good fit in the hand and inspired by a monolithic form.
The uncluttered design has a soft rounded form and is coloured in either the new Forest Blue or Platinum and Mineral Black, which we saw in the first round of Xperia X smartphones, such as the Xperia X, Xperia XA and Xperia X Performance.
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For weight and thickness, the Xperia XZ sits right in the middle, weighing 161g and being 8.1mm thick.
Durability - Gorilla Glass and IP certification
The 5.2" Full HD (1080p) TRILUMINOUS display is protected against bumps and scratches by Corning Gorilla Glass. This is married up with IP certification for dust and water resistance, which is something that Sony has been offering for years, and has done so very well.
Phone Set Up
Getting started - Xperia Transfer Mobile
It is very easy to transfer content from an old Android, iOS or Windows smartphone, onto the Sony Xperia XZ. Xperia Transfer Mobile is pre-loaded and takes care of this, bringing over photos, videos, contacts, text messages and other data.
This Sony smartphone has a 32GB internal memory and 20GB of this is available for the user, to store new apps, videos and photos. In the rare case that this isn’t enough memory, then a microSD memory card be inserted of any value up to 256GB.
A quick orientation with the Sony Xperia XZ finds the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge, a volume button and dedicated camera button on the side edge, along with a fingerprint sensor power button. Sony has integrated the fingerprint sensor into the power /wake-up key, so that the display can be activated and unlocked in one touch.
OS - Android Marshmallow
The operating system is Google’s Android Marshmallow OS and this brings with it a number of innovative features. If the user has used the Chrome browser before then saved bookmarks will be already be available.
Likewise, if the user logs into their Google account, then YouTube will readily show search history and recommendations based upon what has been viewed previously. Other apps that come with Android includes Maps, Gmail and the Play Store, for downloading new apps.
Entertainment - Hi-Res audio and Sony apps
Sony products are well known for their exceptional sound and the Xperia XZ continues this trend with Hi-Res audio, Clear Audio+ and S-Force Front Surround. This brings to life the music and movie experience with rich and deep audio.
A selection of Sony apps are pre-loaded and these includes the Music, Movie Creator, Spotify, What's New and Sound Photo apps. PS4 Remote Play is also ready to go, for serious gamers.
Performance - Self learning
The Sony Xperia XZ has been optimised by self learning and adaptation takes place based upon the usage habits of the owner. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with 3GB RAM is powerful, out of the box, and Smart Cleaner automatically maximises performance, by cleaning the cache of certain apps, based on usage patterns.
The battery also employs self learning but we will discover this later on, in this review.
Camera & Video
Photography - Triple image sensing technology
The main 23MP camera uses Sony’s triple image sensing technology and this is something new that we have never seen before.
The existing image sensor (Exmor RS for mobile) uses fast autofocus (AF) with Predictive Hybrid AF, which predicts and tracks subjects or items that are in motion, ensuring blur free results, even when the subject is in motion.
The two additional assisting sensors that have been added includes a Laser AF, with distance sensing tech that captures blur-free photos in low light. The RGBC-IR sensor with colour sensing tech, adjusts the white balance based upon the light source in the environment. This enables the camera to capture incredibly accurate colours, no matter whether the shot is taken indoors or under bright sunlight.
Camera features - Image stability
The shaky hands of a photographer can be a curse but the camera on the Sony Xperia XZ uses 5-axis stabilisation for video, to overcome this. Along with Sony's SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode, the effect of camera movement is negated, even if the photographer is walking.
From standby, the camera can capture a shot 0.6 seconds, with a simple press of the dedicated shutter release button, that sits below the power and volume keys. Sony has used its award winning 24mm G Lens for shooting 4K videos.
The camera user can zoom in without loss of quality with 5x Clear Image Zoom and can manually adjust the focus controls and shutter speed, in order to create photographic effects.
A 13MP selfie camera has also been built in, with ISO6400 sensitivity. The 22mm, 90-degree wide angle lens also caters well for taking group selfies.
Power - A battery with up to twice the lifespan
The 2,900mAh battery can be charged using the symmetrical USB Type-C cable and port, making it far easier to insert that the older microUSB cables and ports, which had a right and wrong way up. As with all Sony phones, STAMINA mode is on hand to make the most of dwindling battery reserves, should the user get caught short.
Battery Care and Qnovo adaptive charging have been employed to enhance the lifespan of the battery, giving up to twice the lifespan. Qnovo adaptive charging monitors and adjusts the charging current to avoid damaging the battery. Battery Care uses information on the owner's past usage habits, which it has learned, to pause charging at 90% and Battery Care then only completes final charging just before the owner needs it, ensuring excessive charging doesn't take place.
Written by: Michael Brown