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Highlights

Sony Xperia XZ Review




Sony has had an amazing year so far especially with the release of their entry level XA series smartphones. Today we have the Sony Xperia XZ – Sony’s latest flagship phone that is an aimed competitor to other flagship phones such as the Galaxy S7, and the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe.

Unlike its smaller brother – the Xperia XA, the Xperia XZ is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820 processor running at a base clock of 1.6Ghz and a max clock speed of 2.15Ghz that is paired with an Adreno 530 GPU. Let’s see how the XZ will handle as an everyday device in this review.

Design and Construction

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The Xperia XZ sports a full metal body with a very simplistic but eye-pleasing design. It flaunts a 5.2-inch display and is fitted with a Full HD panel at 1920 x 1080 resolution. It is reinforced with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 so it should have improved resistance against scratches and the like. The 2.5D screen also makes it smoother to hold and appear a bit more sophisticated.

From this angle we see the on-screen buttons for Back, Home, and Recent Apps. Meanwhile, at the top part of the display, hides the front-facing 13-megapixel camera along with its sensors.

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The back panel is the same as the XA Ultra which has an all matte finish and the printed ‘Xperia’ name that makes the phone feel more premium. Although, it easily attracts smudges and fingerprints every now and then.

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Tucked at the upper left corner is the main 23-megapixel rear camera which includes a f/2.0 aperture, phase-detection and laser autofocus, and LED flash. Sony also added an RGB-C sensor in order to help capture the correct colors and hues of its subjects.

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Up top, we have the mic and, thankfully, a headset jack. Unlike the rest of the sides, the top has a concentric matte finish that gives texture to the device and exudes a more premium look. Because of this design, smudges are less likely to occur unlike at the back and the sides.

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The Xperia XZ is connected via USB-Type C (a first for any Xperia smartphone) which is located at the bottom of the phone with the same concentric matte finish as the top.

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Located on the right side are the dedicated power button, volume rocker and, as seen on most Xperia Phones, a dedicated camera shutter button. The main power button also doubles as a fingerprint sensor for an extra layer of security.

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At the left side, we have the flap which reveals the dual SIM. This is also a hybrid for the MicroSD card that accommodates up to a 256GB. Inserting an SD card, however, will render it incapable of dual SIM connections so you have to choose one over the other. Unlike most phones, this phone doesn’t require a sim ejector to open the card slot.

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The Xperia XZ, with its 5.2-inch display, makes handling a joy as it’s not too big to require two hands, yet it’s also not too small that you sacrifice screen space. Its display and body are right for one-hand use and with a weight of 161 grams, isn’t too hefty to hold.

A staple feature for Xperia devices is its dust- and water- resistance and the XZ inherited this trait and received an IP65/68 certification. This allows for it to be submerged up to 1.5 meters for as long as 30 minutes.

Display and Multimedia

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While other flagships pack a Quad HD (others even 4K) screen, we would say that those are not needed on the XZ since its 5.2-inch display doesn’t require a lot of pixels for it to look packed. Its 1080p panel already looks detailed and we especially liked the way the colors are produced. They are vibrant but not too overly done and the company hit a good balance with its contrast. On the other hand, blacks are dark, but not as dark as we’d like them to be.

The implementation of 2.5D screen that curves outward to meet the chassis makes swiping from the edge more enjoyable and fluid.

Featuring dual front-facing stereo speakers, the Xperia XZ gives out above average audio quality as the sound is thrown directly at the user. When holding the phone in landscape mode, the two hands on both ends of the device bounce the sound straight to you so you hear more details and a slightly louder volume.

OS, UI, and Apps

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The Xperia XZ is running on Android’s 6.0.1 Marshmallow and is slated for an upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat. This brings a drawer to house all your apps with the icons looking flat and neat. Carrying a 64GB worth of internal storage, there’s ample space for your media but if there is a need to expand, users may do so with the use of a microSD card which allows up to 256GB of extra space.

It comes with certain pre-loaded apps like Xperia Lounge, PlayStation app, Lifelog, News, Movie Creator, Sketch, and Amazon Shopping.

Overall, UI navigation is a smooth sailing affair for the Xperia XZ and jumping from app to app is speedy with no lags.

Camera

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Sony used a 23-megapixel main shooter for the Xperia XZ which is accompanied by a f/2.0 aperture, phase-detection and laser autofocus, and LED flash. The tandem of PDAF and Laser AF indeed makes focusing fast and reliable. This also minimizes blurred shots when shooting still images but focusing on moving subjects is still a hit and miss. Taking care of selfies is a 13-megapixel front camera which also delivered satisfactory shots. Check out the samples below:

Shots taken during the day shows a well-balanced color saturation and good contrast. Details are very distinguishable, too, but we’re not super impressed with how it handles exposure. What it does is get the exposure right for the majority of the area but there are times that we had it focused on the bright part to get more details as possible but it could only do so much so we still end up with overexposed areas.

As for shooting at night, it does give users distinguishable photos even in low light but it’s at the expense of having noticeable grain. Basically, there is digital noise present even in not-so-dim instances once the camera is shooting on night mode.

Here are some video samples during the day and at night:

Performance and Benchmarks

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The Xperia XZ comes equipped with a Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820 processor clocked at 2.15GHz and uses an Adreno 530 GPU for the graphics. While several phones already offer 4GB-6GB of RAM, the XZ is still at 3GB but it proves to be a capable component as we didn’t experience any major lags while using the device as an everyday workhorse. We also had it run graphics-heavy games once in a while and further proved that the device has a swift and responsive performance in general. During out entire time with it, there was no single crash and didn’t even hang on an app which is pretty impressive.

Below are the results for comparison using our usual benchmarking tests:

  • AnTuTu: 142,596
  • Quadrant Standard: 42,296
  • Vellamo: 3,205 (Multicore), 3,466 (Metal), 5,555 (Chrome Browser)
  • 3DMark SlingShot ES 3.1: 2,456
  • PCMark 1.0: 6,478

Connectivity and Call Quality

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Our review unit is single-SIM but the official retail will have dual-SIM.

Connectivity-wise, there’s 4G LTE present along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. There’s also NFC for wireless pairing and is placed up front near the 13-megapixel camera. Using it for calls is also what you’d expect with good call reception for both ends. Our review unit for now only has a slot for a single SIM, but the upcoming units that will sell here in the Philippines have dual-SIM functions.

Battery Life

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Carrying a Lithium Ion 2900mAh non-removable battery, the Xperia XZ only lasted for 6 hours and 18 minutes when subjected to PCMark’s Work 2.0 battery test. Although when we ran our usual video loop test on Airplane mode and 50% brightness and volume, we got a result of 9 hours and 39 minutes before its juice ran out. On an average usage that involves data streaming on LTE, it was able to last a whole day. Charging the devices take about two hours and 17 minutes from 0-100%.

Conclusion

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The Xperia XZ has a nice, sexy form factor with its premium metal body and 2.5D glass implementation. Its 5.2-inch Full HD display is appreciated and makes operating with one hand fairly easy. One of my personal favorites is its dust- and water-resistant body that I could take with me on beach trips and the like. Performance-wise, we don’t have much complaints on the XZ as it was able to keep up with us during the entire week of using it as our primary phone. The implementation of USB-Type C is also well-appreciated as a sense of future-proofing the device.

Focusing is also one of the strong suits of this handset. Its camera captures decent shots during the day, but come nighttime, expect some grains while shooting using its Superior Auto settings. This is probably the only gripe we have about the XZ.

The Xperia XZ is now available for pre-order with an SRP of Php37,990.

Sony Xperia XZ specs
5.2-inch IPS Display @ 1920 × 1080 resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass 4
2.15GHz Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820 quad-core
Adreno 530 GPU
3GB LPDDR4 RAM
64GB internal storage
Expandable up to 256 GB via microSD card
4G/LTE
WiFi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.1
NFC
GPS with aGPS support
23MP rear camera with f/2.0, 24mm, phase detection and laser autofocus, LED flash
13MP front camera
Dust and Water resistant up to 1.5 meters and 30 minutes (IP65/68 Rating)
Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
Fingerprint Sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Proximity Sensor
Barometer
Compass
Color Spectrum
Li-Ion 2,900mAh battery (non-removable)
Android v6.0.1 Marshmallow
146 x 72 x 8.1mm (dimensions)
161 grams (weight)

Pros:

  • Premium body
  • Displays vibrant colors
  • Shoots lively photos during the day
  • Fast autofocus
  • Snappy Snapdragon processor
  • USB Type-C
  • Water-resistant body
  • Physical camera shutter button

Cons:

  • Camera produces grainy photos and videos at night



Kevin Bruce Francisco is the Senior Editor and Video Producer for YugaTech. He's a Digital Filmmaking graduate who's always either daydreaming of traveling or actually going places on his bike. Follow him on Twitter for more tech updates @kevincofrancis.

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4 Responses

  1. Roni says:

    What great year? Sony new X series phones are a disaster. Except for the XZ all the X series have very bad reviews and the biggest complaint are the price. They are way over priced. All of them.

    • Miko Puracan says:

      I agree with you po. The other brands are already on par with their smartphones in terms of build quality, design and power at a lower price.

    • Mark says:

      I agree that Sony’s Xperia line hasn’t really been doing well all this time. Other than what some call the “Sony tax”, Sony has not really pushed a lot of weight in marketing these to the US crowd. I have no idea why is that the case. So we get the effect of high prices because of either they are not being produced in large enough quantities or they sell so low in volume that they’re ramping up the price to recover development cost.

      Another effect is that the US people gets less enthused even though these are really great devices and so they don’t get a lot of coverage from big name review and tech sites. So it becomes somewhat of a vicious cycle but Sony can definitely break out of it if only they stop being so lazy and not ignore the US market.

      Some will say that the Sony Xperia line is focusing more on Asia, and that may be true, but Asia only has so much buying power compared to the US/EU. Also our market is quite saturated already, from low to high-end.

  2. It should always be a con about their pricing… Great phome fpr a terrible price.

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