Tuesday 6 December 2016

Sony Xperia XZ

I’m sure you’ll be struggling to recollect the last Sony mobile device that was a head turner.They’re not dead though, yet. Sony’s come out with their new Xperia XZ in the Premium segment being in line with their other launches and completely ignoring the budget, low cost flagship segment. Let’s see if the XZ does better than their last flagship Z5.

Design & Hardware

The in-hand feel of the XZ is premium no doubt thanks to the back, made almost entirely out of Alkaleido - a custom alloy designed by Sony. The metal back is surprisingly smooth but doesn’t slip out of your hand. Alos, the corners are more straight than rounded contrary to what is mentioned by Sony .At 161 gms & 8.1 mm it’s not thin or lightweight but doesn’t feel bulky. It’s available in 3 colour variants Forest Blue, Platinum, and Mineral Black.
The Corning Gorilla glass 4 protected 5.2” full HD screen on the Sony XZ won’t be a match to the Z5 4K screen but it’s still better than most displays in the market right now.
At the top of the screen you find the Sony logo with the front camera & notification LED to the left of it , the earpiece cum speaker in the centre & sensors to the right.There’s also a speaker at the bottom of the screen for the stereo effect.On the right edge is the power button with the integrated fingerprint scanner very different from the ones you usually see now at the front or back of the phone. Some people might like it but I personally don’t since I have to use my index finger if the phone is in my left hand to unlock it and it’s not very accurate for some reason.The volume rocker and dedicated camera buttons are also place below on the right .
On the left top edge is the dual hybrid nano SIM slot which can take up to 200GB on an SD card.
The top edge has the noise cancellation mic & a 3.5mm jack while the Type C charging port is at the bottom edge .The Alkaleido back meanwhile has the camera and dual LED flash below , both placed on the top left corner with only the Xperia engraving is at the centre.
In terms of display, visibility outdoors wasn't a problem thanks to the 2 modes, X-Reality for mobile (sharper & real) and Super-vivid ( maximise colours), or simply leave both off and live with the default settings. The Xperia XZ also has a Glove Mode that can be switched on to let you use the touchscreen with your gloves on.

The processor on the Xperia XZ is the Snapdragon 820 SoC with 3GB RAM (Really!? Not even 4? For that price!) , 64GB ROM (200GB SD card support) , 13MP front camera , 23MP on the rear with a 2900 mAh battery (which is less on paper but does the job well) & Adreno 530 GPU. Both SIM slots support 4G & VoLTE.
The phone is also IP68 certified for dust and water protection which has been used in older Xperia devices as well. Take your phone for a swim !

Software -

Android 6.0.1 out of the box & Sony’s UI on top without any bloatware . The UI has not had any major changes for the last 5 yrs and has become too boring for my liking. I use a custom launcher from the Play Store.There are some pre installed games & apps like like Asphalt 8 and Facebook etc. which can be uninstalled.Features like swiping down to get a search box for apps and recent apps are still present.

Camera -
The rear camera is supposed to be the highlight of the phone and it doesn’t disappoint . Sony is obviously known to have one of the best camera modules in the industry and sells them to quite a few competitors. The 23 MP Primary camera comes with Triple image sensing technology, 5 Axis image stabilisation, 4K video recording, 0.6 sec Quick Launch and Capture, Low-light photo: up to ISO 12800.
The camera has three different sensors - the CMOS sensor, to track and predict movement of objects in a frame, reducing the chances of blurred shots; the laser autofocus sensor, to make the camera better at locking focus on objects, especially in low-light conditions; and the RGBC-IR sensor, which aims to deliver accurate colour reproduction.There's also a 6-element Sony G Lens with an f/2.0 aperture and five-axis stabilisation for videos, the "world's first in a smartphone", i.e. Sony Xperia XZ detects and compensates for yaw & pitch angle shake, roll shake, and also X & Y shift shake. All this is backed by an improved Sony Bionz For Mobile image processor. Bottomline ? It take’s badass photos in daylight, so you can say bye bye to your low budget DSLRs! Lowlight shooting did’t disappoint as well and were better than most other 20MP camera photos I’ve seen.
The 13MP Exmor RS front camera has Gesture shutter & can take superior low light selfies with wide angle with an ISO up to 6400.
While recording videos on 4K, the phone heated up quite a bit and you get a pop up saying the app will be closed if the temperature of the phone keeps on increasing! You should just limit the 4K videos to 5 mins if that’s the case and it should be mentioned before the recording starts, not mid way! Full-HD videos didn’t have any issues though.
The camera app is pretty similar to what you see on most smartphones and with all shooting modes like panorama , HDR , Manual etc. All in all, the camera on the Sony Xperia XZ is right at the top with the S7 Edge and iPhone 7 Plus.

Gaming and Music are a breeze on the phone and you can throw any graphic intensive games at it like Fifa Play or Asphalt 8. The Xperia XZ supports Hi-Res Audio (bit rate 9,216 kbps ) playback, which is 7x higher than CDs (1,411 kbps) and almost 29x higher than MP3s (320 kbps). Also it has DSEE HX to up-scales any content to Hi-Res quality delivering rich, studio-quality audio experience. Additionally while on calls digital noise cancelling function detects ambient noise using the built-in microphone and output anti-phase sound to reduce the noise.
Coming to the 2900 mAh battery  that has features like STAMINA mode, Quick Charging, Smart Battery care for Adaptive charging which learns from user's charging habits to optimise battery health.
Advanced battery care and Qnovo Adaptive charging adapts to your habits to keep your battery healthy for longer, it learns from when you charge and how much you charge. Stamina Mode enables you to choose for how long you want to keep your smartphone running, very helpful while travelling, camping or when you need more time till you reach to a charging point. The Smart cleaner makes sure that your smartphone runs faster & smoother, without stuttering or lagging performance by keeping the unused files/apps closed.
The battery only lasted close to 12 hours on a single charge & there’s no fast charger in the box , so couldn’t test Sony’s claim of 5.5 hours of talk time in a 15 min charge. Again, major failure considering the price point.
Finally, with  a massive AnTuTu score of 123250, the Xperia XZ proves it’s mettle with the best in the business closing in on the S7 edge, Note 7 ( how I miss you ! ) & One Plus 3.

If you’re not someone who likes budget flagships and are bored of the Samsungs & Apples you can consider the Sony Xperia XZ. It’s price might pinch for the hardware but there’s no compromise on the quality.  
I’d give the Sony Xperia XZ a 4/5.


Pritesh Khilnani

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