Sony Xperia Z1 Review

Sony announced their latest flagship in the form of the Xperia Z1 – a 20 megapixel-packing smartphone that runs 5-inch full HD display and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 CPU. Certainly a beast but does it have enough to lure people away from competition. Let’s find out by reading our Sony Xperia Z1 review below.


Design and Construction

As mentioned during our first impressions, the Z1 poses as the better-performing and better-looking brother of the Xperia Z. It also has a waterproof and dustproof body but this time sports an an aluminum frame with rounded edges and slapped with tempered glass on the front and back. All these give the Z1 an impression of durability, sleekness and functionality.


Found on the front of the device is the familiar 5-inch Full HD TFT Triluminous display, along with the earpiece which also doubles as the notification light, and the 2 megapixel front-facing camera. No capacitive buttons here so the rest are all glass.

Take a peak on the left side and you’ll see two flaps that cover the microSD card slot and microUSB port. Also found here is the magnetic port for the dock. On the right is another flap for the micro-SIM slot along with the power/lock button, volume rocker, and dedicated camera button.


Right on top is the headset jack, while at the bottom is the wide speaker grill and provision for a lanyard. Flip it on its back and you’ll see the 20.7 megapixel camera with G Lens, LED flash, and another microphone for video recording purposes.


At 8.5mm thick and weighing at 170g, the Z1 isn’t exactly the thinnest or the lightest of smartphones but it is certainly one of the best looking out there.


The Z1 retains the 5-inch Full HD display of its predecessor which includes the TFT screen. However, Sony included their Triluminos display technology which, according to Sony, gives the Z1’s display a wider color range. True enough, the Z1 was able to deliver a relatively vibrant viewing experience with very rich colors.


Yes, it’s still TFT.

The Xperia Z1 uses a TFT LCD which means that color reproduction and viewing angles aren’t as good as to one with IPS. But this is not to say that the Z1’s display is bad. As mentioned earlier, Sony’s Triluminos technology and X-Reality for mobile seem to be working as advertised as the display is crisp and vibrant.


However, as expected, it is not without flaws. Sunlight legibility is poor, blacks are not that deep, and colors fade when you start viewing from different angles. This could be a downer especially when you’re watching a video with a bunch of friends.

OS, UI, and Apps

The Z1 comes with Android 4.2.2 Jellybean right out of the box. It is skinned with Sony’s UI which doesn’t differ much from the other members of the family. It starts with five active homescreens, three navigation buttons at the bottom, and an app drawer to bring up the installed apps which you can navigate by swiping to the left or right.


Sony also added a shortcut menu here which you can access by swiping from the left edge to the right. From here you can easily uninstall an app or arrange them in different categories. Everything is pretty much straight forward and easy to use.


Speaking of apps, the Z1 is preinstalled with your usual Google suspects with the addition of Sony’s own apps like the Walkman, Socialife, Reader by Sony, TrackID, TrackID TV, Sketch, and PlayStation Mobile. The unit we received comes preinstalled with third-party apps as well like McAfee Security, Office Suite, Pixlr Express, and a demo version of Temple Run 2. All of these can be uninstalled except for TR2 which is weird.


As for your app needs, the Google Play Store and Sony Select are there to provide you with good selections. The Z1 has a total of 12GB of usable storage which should suffice for those who are heavy on apps.


Sony is also leveraging on the Z1’s 20.7 megapixel camera which is a significant improvement over the Z’s 13 megapixel. The company is also careful not to appear as to be playing around with the “megapixel” numbers and equipped the Z1 with a 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS sensor and a wide angle 27mm f/2.0 G Lens.


With the help of the BIONZ image processing engine, the Z1 is capable of shooting sharper, clearer, and brighter images even in low light. Or so they say on paper. But having tested the camera, I can definitely say that it is one of the best we’ve used so far. It is fast and captures a lot of detail with great colors especially in bright conditions.


In low light, the Z1 can handle itself well even without the use of flash. Noise is evident but the camera’s image processing engine was able to tone it down to acceptable levels.

Shot indoors (without flash) during a rainy afternoon.

As with the use of flash, one might expect some improvement in image quality given the light source but prepare to be disappointed. The tiny flash often times washes out the main subject and leaves the rest peppered with noise.

Shot indoors (with flash) during a rainy afternoon.

In addition, the light coming from the LED sometimes makes images appear yellowish. If we were to suggest, better set the flash to OFF and only use if there’s virtually no light source available.

Take a look at more sample photos below:
[fancygallery id=”44″ album=”47″]

Camera apps

Sony didn’t stop in just making an impressive camera for the Z1, they also developed very useful apps to go along with it. Just tap the mode button on the lower right-hand side and it will bring up a total of eight camera modes/apps:

Superior Auto – will shoot photos and videos in automatically optimized settings.


Manual – manually adjust your camera settings. HDR works here but only at 8 megapixel.


Timeshift Burst – captures 61 frames within just 2 seconds (starting even before you press the shutter) then lets you scroll back and forth to select the perfect image.

z1_timeshift burst

Picture Effect – select an artistic effect to apply to photos

z1_picture effect

Sweep Panorama – take panoramic photos


AR Effect – choose from 7 virtual scenes to add to your photos.

z1_ar effect

Info Eye – shares relevant information on your subject through your camera viewfinder.


Social Live – broadcast images and videos live via Facebook


Sony mentioned that there are more camera apps being developed so expect more features to arrive over time.

As for its video recording capabilities, the Z1 is capable of shooting 1080p videos at 30fps. Take a look at the sample video below which includes underwater and low light shots:


As expected of a Xperia flagship, the Z1 is a multimedia powerhouse. Sony’s WALKMAN, Movies, and Album app provide both eye-candy and rich experience.


The WALKMAN and Movies app organizes your songs videos properly and downloads extra info with the help of Gracenote.


The Album app on the other hand makes it easy for you to browse neatly through your galleries and allows integration with Facebook albums, Picasa and Flickr.


Like what was mentioned in the Display section, the 5-inch Full HD display makes it a great partner for watching movies especially of 1080p resolution. If you’re lone watcher, you’ll surely appreciate the bells and whistles of the display but if you’re with other folks, those watching from the sides won’t appreciate the limited viewing angles.

As for the speaker, at first glance you’d think that the whole grill is the speaker itself when in fact it’s only the right side that produces sound. The left side is saved for the mic, similar to that of the iPhone.


By default, the speaker’s power feels weak so you might want to activate ClearAudio+ from the settings to give it some boost if you want to fill a small room. But if you really want a better listening experience, a good set of headphones or external speakers are still recommended.

Performance and Benchmarks

Powering the Z1 is a Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 CPU clocked at 2.2GHz coupled with 2GB of RAM. This immediately takes the Z1 into the ranks of the Android elite. Together with Android 4.2.2 onboard, lags should be a thing of the past.

With more than a week of use we did not experience any slow downs, crashes or random reboots. A good sign that everything is very much stable.


As we have posted in our first impressions, the Z1 scored 34,625 in AnTuTu and 21,578 on Quadrant Standard.


NenaMark 2 maxed out at 60fps while Vellamo gave it a score of 2,914 on HTML5 and 1,144 on Metal.

Call Quality and Battery Life

Call quality on the Z1 is okay and worked normally as expected as everything is loud and clear granted that the network’s signal is good.

To ensure that quality, Sony provided some extra features in this department like Micrphone noise suppression, Equalizer, Speaker voice enhancement, and Slow talk which slows down the speech of the other calling party.

z1_call features

As for the battery, the Z1 is equipped with a non-removable 3,000mAh battery which shows an estimated battery life of 19 hours with mobile network and WiFi on. On Stamina mode it will show an estimated battery life of 2 days and 14 hours. With our regular use which consists of constant WiFi connectivity, heavy browsing on SNS, light texting and calling, the Z1 was able to last between 9 to 10 hours.

z1_battery life

We placed the Z1 in our usual battery test and played a 1080p movie at 50% brightness and 0% volume in Airplane mode. The result is 8.33 hours worth of continuous movie playback.


The 5-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2GB of RAM, IP58-certified body, LTE connectivity, healthy 3,000mAh battery, and feature-packed 20.7 megapixel camera, makes the Xperia Z1 one of the best Android smartphones to date.

It is not perfect in some aspects though like the reflective TFT display and weak LED flash performance. And there’s the slow OS upgrade rollout that’s been bugging Sony for quite some time. Let’s just hope that the company has improved in this department now that Android 4.4 KitKat is on the way.

Still, if you’re one of those on a look out for a top-performing flagship smartphone with a “premium” build, the glass and aluminum-bodied Xperia Z1 should be on your top list to choose from.

Sony Xperia Z1 specs:
5″ TFT Triluminous display (1920 x 1080), 440ppi
2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 CPU
1/2.3-inch 20.7MP Exmor RS CMOS image sensor
27mm wide angle and bright F2.0 aperture
BIONZ for mobile image processing engine
16GB of internal storage
up to 64GB via microSD
WiFi a/b/g/n, WiFi Hotspot
ANT+ support
Bluetooth 4.0
MHL support
IP55/58 dust and water resistance
3,000mAh battery
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
144 x 74 x 8.5mm
170 grams
Available in Black, Purple, and White

What we liked about it:
*Great camera
*Great build
*Very snappy performance
*Good battery life

What we didn’t like about it:
*Reflective TFT display
*Weak flash

68 Comments on this Post

  1. yes TFT ang screen niya. pero hindi yung TN TFT na ginagamit sa mga lowend phones. may madaming type ang TFT lcd. kasali na jan ang TN panel (cheap lcd with limited viewing angle) , IPS and VA panel.

    then tama kayo na ang ibang Xperia z1 may mas magandang screen kesa ibang xperia z1. explaination jan is hindi lahat ng Xperia Z1 pare pareho ang panel na ginamit. yung ibang xperia z1, IPS TFT(yung sobrang IPS panel ni xperia z ultra) ang screen na ginamit ni dahil kunti lang ang IPS panel nila, yung VA panel naman na gawa ng SHARP ang ginamit ni SONY para kay Xperia Z1. at kapag tataas ang demand ni xperia z1, yung PLS panel ng samsung ang gagamitin nila kapag nauubusan sila ng panel.

    just search on google if you want to know more about xperia z1’s panel :)

    • Sir @john, panu namin (possible buyers) malalaman kung yung magandang quality ba ng panel yung nasa xperia z1 na bibilhin namin? thanks!

    • @john can you please provide a link here…kasi kung iisipin natin na ang sony gagamit ng screen mula sa ibat ibang manufacturers ay hindi totoo.kasi imposible naman na maubusan sila ng panels…alam nila sa sarili nila na nagmamarket sila ng phones kaya di pedeng magkashortage sila sa isang brand…syempre kung ako ung magbebenta magoorder ako ng panels na hindi ako mapipilitan na magpalit ng iba….kasi katangahan un

    • @wew – kumukuha sila ng panel from sharp, idk pero and alam ko di lang si sony ang kumukuha sakanila.. someone from sharp ang nagsabi sakin nun.. sana lang malaman natin kung yung magandang quality yung mabibili natin, ok din na magbigay si @john ng link para makatulong.

    • Nerissa Agbisit

      Guys I work at Foxconn China. Ang Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM ang kumukuha lahat ng spare parts from different parts manufacturer na ginagamit sa pag assemble ng electronics equipment. Example, ang mga lcd display ng apple ay sa LG at Samsung galing. Sila lang kasi ang gumagawa ng mga non high definition panels. Gumagawa din ang Foxconn ng Sony. Sa case ng sony, toshiba ang gamit namin sa high end models nila. Sa lower end models at all the rest ng brand kung saan Foxconn ang isa sa mga OEM, mixed bag na iyan LG/Phillips, Sharp, Samsung, Sanyo, Matsushita. GaNito lang iyan, kelangan kumita ang OEMs kaya normally mixed bag ang kinukuhanan at yes sa pinakamurang supplier. For example, sa kaso ng iphone5c ung plastic, pinapa subcontract ng Foxconn iyan sa India para mas mura pa ang pagawa. 40 dollars normally ang kuha ng apple sa iphone sa Foxconn so kelangan nasa 30 dollars ang gawa non to make profit. Ang iphone 5s ung tin can, nasa 120 dollars ang total cost to make. Ang htc one nasa 200 dollars. Ang Samsung S4 nasa 250 dollars ang gawaan ng Foxconn nian. Nasa 300 dollars ang gawa ng xperia z. Nasa 400 plus naman ang z1.

    • Nerissa Agbisit

      Mas mura na malayo ang pag gawa ng apple iphone kumpara halimbawa sa samsung, dahil ang mga ibang parts na pinaglumaan ng samsung, halimbawa sa isang model, samsung galaxy s2 halimbawa ay iyun na ang ginagamit ng Foxconn pra gumawa ng iphone 5 halimbawa. Kalimitan na dito ay ram, camera, wifi, bluetooth, radio, speakers, memory cards, led backlights, at iba pa. Walang nasasayang sa stockpile kumbaga. Chinese pa ang galing mag recycle.

    • @wohohoi although magkakaiba sila ng panel i do believe naman na superior naman sila parepareho. kasi yung VA panel ng sharp sobra namang ganda nun. parang upgraded yung VA panel ng sharp kung ikukumpara mo sa iba :)

      @wew hindi ka pala naniniwala pre? mag research ka nga. alam mo ba na yung Apple magkakaiba yung suppliers nila ng LCD panels? Samsung, LG ang even Sharp ang suppliers ng LCD nila para sa kanilang ipad ang iphones. pero at least pare pareho silang IPS panel. kaya nga si Sony hindi nila mailagay sa specs ng phones nila kung ano talagang panel ang gamit nila sa phones nila kasi nga magka iba ang panels nila. yung iba ay IPS, yung iba din ay VA panels :D kaya TFT nalang ang ilalagay nila sa specs :)

  2. Still not Water proof :(

    • Dre try mo muna kaya basahin ung article bago ka magcomment…kaya marami kayong napapahiya dito eh anjan na nga ung sagot sa harap nyo nagkakamali pa kayo.

  3. Battery results from gsmarena:

    Video playback: 6 hrs
    Web browsing: 6 hrs


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    ??? +7 (495) 797-2726
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  6. Excellent phone. I’ve been using it for a week now and I found nothing wrong with it. The camera is brilliant and the design is just wonderful.

  7. Spetledreal

    ? ???? ????????? ?????. ???????? ? ?????? ? ???????????? ?????? ?????????: ????? ???????? ??????, ??????????? ??? ????????? ????? ????????? – ??????? ???? ??????. ????????? ?????????, ???????? ?????? ? ??????????? ?????? ??????. ????? ???????

  8. Rekownent

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    http://??????-???.??/ ??????????? ???
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    ??? ?????? ??????? ?????? ??????? ???????? ? ??????, ??????? ? ??????. ??????????????????. ????????????? ????????? ? ????????????? ??????. ??????????? ???????????? ? ? ????????.
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  11. jabligwalanjo

    gagana ba xperia z1 f so 02f sa pinas? ung z1 so23 au kaya?

  12. Mnycclung

    ????????? ??????????? ? ??????. ?????? ?? ?????.
    ??????????? ?????????? ????????? ??????????? ? ?????? ? ??????? ?? ?????. ???? ?????????? 1 ????. 6 ??? 4000, 1 ??? 6000, ????????? 14 000. ?????? ???????? ??. ?????? ? ??????????? ???? ??????? ? ??????????. ??? ? ?????? ( 846) 267-21-85, 8-927-728-34-57 ?????? ????????????.

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  14. Last November kumuha ang wife ko ng Sony Experia Z1 sa Abenson Cubao after 3 weeks marami ng nangyari sa phone. Umiinit ito na akala mo ay sasabog na at nag blockout pa at ang sabi ng Sony service center ay marami lang application kaya nireformat nila sa pag aakalang totoo kinuha uli ng wife ko at after few days ganun uli kaya ibinalik na namin sa abenson. Tumawag ang abenson at pinakukuha ang item na kesyo wala naman daw problema…oh really!!!
    Nagreklamo na kami sa DTI kaya wait na lang kami within 15 days.
    I hope guys na walang ganitong mangyari sa experia z1 nyo. Share ko lang ang nangyari.
    thank you

    • Wala naman problem yung unit. Pero yung freebie na headset, hindi pa binibigay ng abenzon. Jan. 26th pa ko bumili, hanggang ngayon, wala pa rin :(

  15. Hindi ba talaga pwede mag file transfer from Samsung phones to Xperia Z1 through NFC? pero nakakatransfer naman from Xperia Z1 to samsung (both note 3 and s3).


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