Sony Xperia Z1 review

Sony Xperia Z1 review

T3 4
  • This Android smartphone is big, beautiful and stuffed with features – but is it enough to compete? Find out in our Sony Xperia Z1 review

    Sony Xperia Z1 review

    Love

    • Stylish and well-built
    • Superb 20.7MP camera
    • It’s waterproof

    Hate

    • 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.

  • Introducing the Sony Xperia Z1, the model that Sony hopes will better the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Nokia Lumia 1020

    Sony Xperia Z1 review

    Love

    • Stylish and well-built
    • Superb 20.7MP camera
    • It’s waterproof

    Hate

    • Too big for some
    • Not cheap
    • Speaker is average

    Sony's swelling its Xperia ranks with the Sony Xperia Z1. It joins the Sony Xperia Z and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. With a 20.7-megapixel camera and some nifty snapping features, it's got the tech to take on the best camera smartphones out there - including the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Nokia Lumia 1020, but how will it fair?

    Sony Xperia Z1: Size and Build

    The Sony Xperia Z1 is thin and Sony has added a touch of aluminium to the bezel that gives it a more premium feel, compared to the Xperia Z. Buttons are kept to a minimum, you'll find an on/off button, dedicated camera button and a volume rocker. There's also a magnetic charging port and no need to worry if you tip this in the drink, it's waterproof to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes.

    Sony Xperia Z1: Features

    The stand out feature on the Sony Xperia Z1 is its camera.  On the rear there's a huge 20.7-megapixel back camera with an EXMOR R Cybershot sensor for low light conditions and a F2.0 wide angle 27mm Sony G lens. 

    During our short time with the snapper, the pics it took were easily some of the best we've taken on a smartphone. The lag was non-existent and the details and colours in the pictures were excellent, even in lower light conditions.  

    Added to the camera are some nifty features. TimeShift is an app that lets you take a picture at 61fps and then allows you to jog through them to pick the best one; InfoEye overlays information on an item you take a picture of; AR effect add dinosaurs or cartoons to your pics and finally Social Live live streams from the Z1 to Facebook.

    On the front you'll find a 2-megapixel camera offering that also serves-up HD video recording.

    Sony Xperia Z1: Screen

    The screen on the Xperia Z1 remains at 5 inches, like the Xperia Z before it, but the tech inside the screen has been updated. As with the camera using EXMOR tech, the screen ports over BRAVIA tech. The result is a pin-sharp screen whether it's watching a video or browsing the web.

    Sony Xperia Z1: Performance

     

    Keeping that camera and the phone ticking along is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800-series processor with 2GB of RAM. It's lightning fast and multitasking was a breeze.

    Sony Xperia Z1: Verdict

    At first glance, the Sony Xperia Z1 is an impressive phone. The camera spec alone is enough to tempt a photography enthusiast. Add to that the nifty creative features, the speedy processor and the pin-sharp screen and it seems Sony has again served up a smartphone to look- out for and one that can take on the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and Nokia Lumia 1020.

    Keep your eyes peeled for a full review soon.

    Sony Xperia Z1 release date: TBC

    Sony Xperia Z1 price: TBC

    Hands-on review by Rhi Morgan

    • Sony XPERIA Z1 hands-on
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