Sony Xperia Z1 review
- Stylish and well-built
- Superb 20.7MP camera
- It’s waterproof
- Too big for some
- Not cheap
- Speaker is average
This has been a great year for classy, cutting-edge mobiles. It began with the Sony Xperia Z. Since then, we’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, HTC One Mini, BlackBerry Q10, Nokia Lumia 925 and Nokia Lumia 1020, and now the iPhones 5s and iPhone 5c. How DO you choose? Well, there’s one more premium handset in the mix, the Sony Xperia Z1.
Sony Xperia Z1: Size and build
The new handset builds on the success of the Xperia Z, with the same 5-inch display and similar metal frame and front-and-back glass design language.
It’s even marginally bigger than the Xperia Z, an already hefty handset. The dimensions, for those who like stats, are: 144 x 74 x 8.5 mm. That’s taller and wider than the Xperia Z, but a touch thinner. It’s not light, either, at 170g.
But the benefit here is that the corners are smoother. The Z’s edges were slightly sharp but this is much gentler so it makes it much more comfortable to hold. It’s a more sumptuous, confident build quality than the Z.
It’s still pretty big and those with small hands should probably look elsewhere or be prepared for pained hands caused by stretching fingers across the glass.
The aluminium frame is demure and understated – you barely notice it but for the carefully-detailed power button, the same as the one on the Xperia Z. And further down the right hand edge there’s a new button, a dedicated camera shutter, hinting at the photographic focus of this phone.
The Z1 is available in three colours – white, black and purple. Black is the subtlest, white gleams and purple is gorgeous. Sony says the purple was arrived at because it’s a combination of red which is warm and reassuring and blue, which is a colour that excites. Whatever, it’s a very nice purple, which should be enough.
This is a well-built, beautifully styled handset. Only the iPhone 5 and HTC One better it in the design stakes.
Sony Xperia Z1: Features
Like the earlier Xperia Z, this phone is waterproof. Like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, the massive phone-tablet hybrid with its 6.4-inch display, this one has a clever headphone socket that keeps the water out without the need for a flap on it – the speaker on the bottom of the phone is the same and though it’s okay, it doesn’t sound that great.
There’s also no flap on the magnetic charging socket, a slightly more noticeable unit than on the Xperia Z. If you don’t have the charging dock you’d need for that, you’ll have to peel back the flap on the micro USB slot. Which is also what you need to do for the sim card and microSD memory card.
These little flaps are annoying but a waterproof phone is highly desirable – it’s one of Sony’s most useful innovations, as anyone who has ever texted in the bath and dropped it will ruefully admit.
Since so many extra features these days are of questionable value (is the humidity sensor on the Samsung Galaxy S4 really a must-have?) Sony is right to stick with one that’s as appealing as this.