The "1-Minute" Review
- Low contrast 1080p LCD panel
- Poor low-light photos
- Huge bezels
Sony has struggled to maintain a foothold in the smartphone market. But the Xperia XZ1 proves they haven’t given up.
While the XZ1 has a dated look, some might like the boxy design and larger bezels. It’s a matter of personal preference. Still, when compared to similar flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or iPhone X, it looks a bit behind in terms of styling.
Similar in design to the original, Sony has made some subtle changes for the XZ1. It’s thinner measuring in at 0.3 inches. It also sports an aluminum unibody. This brings more durability and an IP68 water-resistance rating.
Sony has called this new styling the infinite loop design. Despite rounds out the sides a bit compared to earlier models, reviewers noticed a slight jab from its edges when carrying it in their pants pocket.
If you’re looking for the sharpest screen, look elsewhere. The 5.2inch, 1080p LCD panel falls short when compared to phones like the Pixel 2 or Galaxy Note 8. It doesn’t provide the dark blacks or contrast ratio of OLEDs.
Still, the screen is good enough for most people. It has excellent color accuracy, good legibility in bright lighting, and great viewing angles. Still, as Tom’s Guide notes, “... the XZ1’s screen still feels like the best of old technology, rather than where the industry is headed.”
While the screen and design might seem so 2016, performance is top-notch. It comes equipped with an octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM. Real-life testing shows it’s very fast. Critics were pleased with how quickly apps launched and had no issues with lag or stutters even when multitasking or playing graphically demanding games.
A 2,700mAh battery might not seem like a lot, but reviewers could get a full day’s worth of use out of a single charge -- even with heavy usage. For more moderate use, they could get a day and a half.
Despite their innovation in the mirrorless camera world, the camera on the XZ1 didn’t particularly impress experts. Sony skipped out on the dual lens craze in favor of having a 19MP rear sensor with 5-axis image stabilization.
On paper, this sounds amazing. In practice, it produced solid results but didn’t wow reviewers. In good lighting situations, the camera captured detailed pictures with accurate colors. However, in low light, they could not produce many usable photos despite the image stabilization.
Some also had issues the finicky standard focus shifting focus between various objects. To combat this, Sony included a feature called “predictive phase detection autofocus”, which keeps focus on a moving object and takes bursts of pictures.
Overall, reviewers enjoyed the XZ1, but have a hard time recommending it. Android Authority states, “Sony hasn’t done enough to make the Xperia XZ1 stand out from the pack… there’s simply better options that offer better values at an equal or lesser cost.” TechRadar adds, “The Sony Xperia XZ1 has a good camera, display, power and software… but apart from the odd flash here and there it doesn’t do anything to really stand out…”
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