The smartphone competition is ruthless in India and around the world. Manufacturers want to acquire a lion's share with new and worthy devices, and 2017 has seen some of the greatest smartphones in the history all at once. From iPhone X to Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and many others, we've witnessed a significant change in the trend of flagship smartphone race.
Sony, which made itself familiar with the tricks of the trades with the launch of Xperia XZ Premium earlier this year, is at it again. This time, the Japanese tech giant launched the XZ1 smartphone to compete against the biggest smartphone flagships in the industry.
We reviewed the Sony Xperia XZ Premium in June and found it to be extremely fascinating and full of surprises. Everything from its design to camera and performance, Sony Xperia XZ Premium impressed us. A few months down the line, we had the chance to test its sibling, Sony Xperia XZ1, which comes at a lower price tag than the Premium model.
Sony Xperia XZ1 was launched at Rs. 44,990, whereas the XZ Premium cost buyers Rs 59,990. With a difference of Rs 15,000, Sony wants to bring a choice to consumers who'd want the flagship Xperia experience without spending a lot. So, we started testing the XZ1 to see how well it justifies the price tag.
The Xperia XZ1 is a toned down version of the XZ Premium in many aspects. Let's start with the design and move on to other aspects of the phone.
Sony Xperia XZ1 doesn't feel as premium as its predecessor, mainly because it lacked the full glass design. The display, measuring 5.2 inches, had the Gorilla Glass 5 protection, whereas the sides and the back panel got metal construction. The Xperia XZ1 Premium was appealing mainly because of its full glass design, even though it had thick bezels.
The Xperia XZ1 has thick bezels as well as the metallic unibody design, which quite appealing. But the overall usage of the phone is quite compact and realistic. We had no issues with the single hand use and the smooth finishing offered a solid, non-slippery grip.
Moving on to the display, the Xperia XZ1 features a Full HD HDR TRILUMINOS display for mobile X-Reality, and we found it quite bright and rich compared to most Full HD smartphones. The screen is designed for gaming and even binge-watching movies without straining your eyes. But if you take the Xperia XZ Premium into consideration, which had a 4K display, you'll see the difference favouring the former flagship.
In terms of design and display, the Xperia XZ1 does well on its own but takes a hit when it meets competition from rivals and one of its own. The IP68 certification, dual front-facing speakers and integrated SmartAmp is certainly a plus point for this handset.
Even with such differences and indifference, the XZ1 tries to stand out in the crowd with its eyes set on the future. The handset comes with an integrated 3D scanning feature that helps users create images in 3D in less than a minute. We had the chance to test a few 3D scans, and the result is fascinating if you get the scanning right.
Accurate details of objects, faces and people can be captured using the XZ1's 3D scanner camera. For those unaware, 3D scanning usually requires a premium and an advanced setup and it cannot be done without professional help. Sony changes that with its new phone.
Sony is exploring deeper into the futuristic technologies with its new XZ1. By allowing 3D scanning, the company allows you to print those scans with professional help. But printing is not affordable yet, so digital 3D scans should suffice many.
In order to get the 3D scanning right, you'll need to make sure there is sufficient lighting or forget about capturing the details of the features. You'll end up getting a distorted figure if the scanning isn't done right, under the right lighting conditions.
The process of 3D scanning is pretty simple, as the camera inside the 3D Creator app will guide you through step-by-step. You won't need any professional help on this one.
But that's not the end of it. Sony is planning to dive deeper into the future and the XZ1 is just the first step in that direction. Augmented reality or AR holds a dear position inside the Xperia XZ1. You can use the 3D scans of your face and integrate into games. Be advised that this tech is still in beta and we couldn't test it out during our review.
As much fun as the 3D scanning feature is in the Xperia XZ1, the question of practicality gets in the way of its future. And yes, it is futuristic and something we haven't seen in any other smartphone, so the Xperia XZ1 targets a specific audience with its 3D creating tech.
But not everything about XZ1 is irrelevant for normal users like you and I. Thanks to the impeccable camera in the smartphone, you'll be spellbound with what the XZ1 has to offer. The 19MP Motion Eye camera with the capability of shooting in 960fps does wonder. It's not something we haven't tested in the past, but it's always exciting to see how the ultra-slow-motion camera can be used to capture the unseen.
Your normal photos using the 19MP primary camera are just as good as well. Due to the Full HD display, the colours may seem washed out, but there's excellent attention to detail. The selfie camera, which houses a 13MP lens with f/2.0 aperture does a commendable job at capturing desirable selfies in challenging lighting conditions. Check out some of the samples below:
Now that we've covered the camera, design and display, the next aspect of sheer importance is the battery. There's a 2,700mAh battery with Qnovo Adaptive Charging and Quick Charge 3.0. Since that's what it says on paper, users will find it suitable for a day's use with mixed usage at best.
Sony Xperia XZ1 packs a smaller battery, but the optimisation is done right so it can give you a reliable battery life. In our daily tests with the phone, it easily lasted us about 8-10 hours with use of messaging, calls on 4G, music and social media browsing with videos. That's decent if not extraordinary.
However, if you are considering using the new 3D Creator app or 960fps slow-motion recording, expect the battery to die down sooner than expected. The fast charging in the smartphone isn't as great, but the low capacity of the battery allows it to charge sooner than other phones. So spare at least an hour for you to be able to use the phone throughout the day. To push it further, Sony's Stamina mode can be of great use.
As a part of the performance, Sony did not compromise on the XZ1 as it packs a Snapdragon 835 chipset paired with 4GB RAM – same as the Xperia XZ Premium and many other flagships. Combine that with Android Oreo in the XZ1, and you've got yourself a winner.
Performance of the phone was glitch-free and as most of you might be wondering – there is no heating issue in the XZ1. There is a fingerprint scanner located on the power button on the right, which we find extremely useful, practical, accurate and fast. That's an odd place to have a biometric sensor, but Sony doesn't make you feel like it.
Sony is certainly trying out unique things, unlike most OEMs. The Xperia XZ1's 3D Creator, Android Oreo integration, a slow-motion camera with exceptional image quality and optimum performance make a good selling point, but the thick bezels on the phone are giving away bygone vibes.
If Sony can make its new smartphone a bezel-free handset, even if it is with similar specs, there's a winner right there. But that's something we will have to wait for until next year. For now, the XZ1 is a device that will impress Xperia fans, but make a hard-sell for those switching from an iPhone or a Samsung smartphone.