The Sony Xperia XZ is out now in Ireland and we’re getting down to the both nitty and gritty with a fully review.
Sony Mobile has ditched the Z range, replacing it with the X series of phones from this year, and their latest flagship has a subtle nod to the old and a look forward to the new right there in the name.
The changes start with the look, which features edges that fold into softly rounded curves. The pack panel is made from high purity ALKALEIDO material which brings a cool touch of brushed metal that’s also tough enough for everyday wear.
The XZ features a 5.2 inch screen with Sony’s patented extras including Triluminous and X-Reality tech. What that means for you is highly detailed images no matter what you’re looking at. You can also opt for different profiles to punch up your colours or leave them more natural looking.
Sony continues to include helpful elements for users, like the microSD slot which expands available storage by as much as 256 gigabytes. And the physical shutter key for the camera is always welcome.
Speaking of which, the camera continues to be one of the standout features of the Sony range. There’s a huge 23 megapixel sensor on the back and a 13 megapixel shooter on the front. Numbers aren’t everything, but they’re a good place to start.
Together with fast specs inside, the cameras use laser guided and predictive autofocus technologies to help you lock on pretty much instantly. These systems even work well in low light, so you won’t be left searching for focus during those party shots.
Low light performance in general is strong, with the phone working to get the shot no matter the conditions. That gives you more time to relax rather than worrying about missing a moment. Or you could just throw on 4K video and record the whole thing!
The selfie camera features a wide angle lens which lets you fit more in and high sensitivity, though it’s not quite as capable in darker conditions as the back camera.
We were very impressed by the overall speed of the phone and that can easily be seen in the camera. Opening the app takes a fraction of a second and you can set it up so that pressing the shutter key fires a shot as soon as its ready. Writing photos to memory is swift and you’re ready for another snap in no time.
This speed is also great for everything else you want to do with the phone. Apps and games load quickly and we didn’t notice any slowdown, even in graphically demanding titles. That’s no surprise given the 3 gigs of RAM and Snapdragon 820 processor.
On the security side, Sony continues to mount its fingerprint scanner on the sleep/wake button on the right hand side of the phone. This solution is becoming a matter of personal preference, with other manufacturers opting for the front home button or a panel mounted on the back.
For what it’s worth, the scanner is quick and easily accessible with the thumb (or forefinger for lefties). You can set up several different prints, and you’re always urged to have a backup screenlock pattern or password too.
Music fans will be well served by a variety of features including Hi-Res audio decoding and configurable software to enhance your tunes. We don’t understand every bit of technology here but there’s no doubt that the music sounded better with them turned on, though these extras will only work through wired earphones.
Waterproofing is also back for this model, with the official rating of IP65/IP68 for dust/water. This means you’re safe from rain or the odd unfortunate spill but you really should take care not to put the phone in a situation where it could get totally submerged as that’s a good way to end up without a functioning handset.
Gaming fans will be pleased by the return of PS4 Remote Play which we feel isn’t used by as many people as it should be. Streaming from your console to your phone actually works really well, especially with the Gamepad accessory.
Battery life is always a worry for smartphone users and Sony says that the Xperia XZ can last for up to two days on a single charge. With moderate to heavy usage it’s more realistic to expect a day, but it should keep going until you get home.
The included Stamina modes do make a difference - the regular level restricts certain functions when the battery life hits a specific level, or it can be on all the time. This makes a real difference to usage, without really compromising on speed.
The other options is Ultra Stamina Mode which basically turns the clock back to simpler times. That means no Wi-Fi or mobile data and only a couple of functions, including the camera. Your battery will last much longer and you can still get voice calls so it’s actually kind of refreshing. Maybe one for going on a long photo trip when you don’t want to be disturbed.
The Sony Xperia XZ is a fittingly premium device to take over as the new flagship for the range. It features a fast and capable camera, an attractive design and blazingly fast performance and is one to watch out for if you’re in the market for a new Android smartphone.
Available in Ireland now, exclusively with Eir.