Sony Xperia XZ Review: Another Solid Xperia

by Reads (3,954)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Service, Warranty & Support
      • 7
      • Ease of Use
      • 6
      • Design
      • 9
      • Performance
      • 7
      • Value
      • 5
      • Total Score:
      • 6.80
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Great design and finish
    • IP68 certificated
    • Decent battery autonomy
    • Fluid performance
  • Cons

    • Low-light pics noisy
    • Fingerprint reader is not active in USA
    • No FM radio

Quick Take

The Sony Xperia XZ doesn’t match other flagships on paper, but it does in user experience.


The Sony Xperia XZ smartphone is eye candy thanks to its credible build and recognizably square design. It’s Sony’s latest flagship, which is a touch more advanced than previous Xperias, and nearly in line with other flagships from HTC, Samsung, and Apple.

Looking at the specs, it has a Full HD 5.2-inch display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 3GB RAM, 2900mAh battery, nearly pure Android OS 6.0.1, and waterproof body, as well as a 23-megapixel rear camera and 13-megapixel selfie camera.

Sony Xperia XZ Build & Design

Sony Xperia XZ

Sony Xperia XZ

All Sony Xperias look the same thanks to a modern and minimalist design, characterized by very sharp edges. The Sony Xperia XZ is no exception, and this model is one of the most attractive flagship smartphones on the market, thanks also in part to its finishing materials.

The entire front surface of the Xperia XZ is covered in glass with slightly rounded edges, which naturally fuse to a frame crafted out of polycarbonate plastic. The back sports the so-called ALKALEIDO metal.

This is a very smooth aluminum created by the Japanese Kobe Steel. It provides an exceptionally pleasant feeling in hand, and an elegant reflection. Unfortunately, this metal is also a fingerprint magnet.

The last few Xperias lacked IP68 certification, but it’s fortunately back with the Sony Xperia XZ, meaning it’s both dust and water proof. It also has USB Type-C connector and a power key that contains a fingerprint reader. Interestingly, it’s not active on the US versions.

The Xperia XZ is a bit chunkier than other flagships, measuring 5.75 x 2.83 x 0.32 inches. It weighs 5.68 ounces, which is identical to the HTC 10, and somewhat more than the Galaxy S7. Both have similarly-sized displays.

The phone sports speaker and microphone perforations above and below the display, while the logo, front-facing camera and ambient sensors are also located above. There are no capacitive keys. The rear camera lens rests perfectly flat and in line with the device’s back surface, LED flash and laser autofocus sensor.

Sony Xperia XZ top

Sony Xperia XZ top

Sony Xperia XZ bottom

Sony Xperia XZ bottom

The sides are minimalistic and the bottom includes just the USB Type-C connector, while the upper portion has the 3.5mm audio jack and the secondary ambient microphone. The left side includes the nanoSIM and microSD card case with a waterproof cover, while the right side holds the Power key at thumb’s height and the volume rocker under it, which has been placed rather unnaturally. The designated camera key is even lower.

Sony Xperia XZ side

Sony Xperia XZ side and buttons

Sony Xperia XZ SIM tray

Sony Xperia XZ SIM tray

Sony Xperia XZ Display

Sony Xperia XZ back panel

Sony Xperia XZ back panel

With a Full HD resolution (1080 x 1920 pixels), the Sony Xperia XZ has less pixels than other flagships with QHD panels, but it still manages an impressive 424 pixel-per-inch density thanks to its relatively small 5.2-inch display. That’s plenty sharp, and though the Sony Xperia XZ trails behind others on paper, it’s near impossible to spot the difference in real life.

Its best characteristic is the above-average contrast, particular in the darker portions of the spectrum. It delivers a highly credible black. This contrast is also sustainable at wide viewing angles, and combines with the display’s immaculate brightness to cut through sun glare as well as any other high-end smartphone.

A closer look at the display reveals a tiny issue with color interpretation, present in the colder portions. Blue tones seem insufficiently saturated and seep into colorlessness, meaning that light blue looks white and dark blue looks gray. It’s tough to notice at a glance, mostly because the warmer parts of the spectrum draw more attention and are used more often in games and media.

Sony Xperia XZ Performance

The Sony Xperia XZ sports the Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 820 chipset, which has two Kyro cores running a 2.15 GHz clock and two Kyro cores running a 1.6 GHz clock, with Adreno 530 graphics.

The same can be found in the HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. Unlike those, the Sony device has 3GB, not 4GB of RAM, while some newer flagships sport 6GB. It ships with a nearly pure version of Android 6.0.1.

Sony Xperia XZ Android 6.0.1

Sony Xperia XZ Android 6.0.1

It’s debatable whether all that extra RAM adds any tangible benefit at this point. For Sony’s part, the difference isn’t all that apparent in the benchmarks.

Looking at GeekBench 3, our Sony Xperia XZ review unit scored 2140 in the single-core test. This is approximately the same as Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, and a bit less than the HTC 10.

It scored 5398 on the multi-core test, which is much more than HTC 10, and less than Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. When everyday experience is considered, this chipset configuration is more than good enough.

The Sony Xperia XZ supports LTE Cat.9 standard and offers maximum download speed of 450 Mbps, and 50 Mbps for upload. The device does not come with FM radio activated, which is odd, given that most Sony Xperia models have it.

Sony Xperia XZ Battery Life

The Sony Xperia XZ has a 2900mAh battery, and tests show above average sustainability for this type of phone. At times, performance is better, and poorer at other times, compared to the competition.

For example, talk time on our Sony Xperia XZ review unit is double the iPhone 7’s. But streaming Full HD videos over Wi-Fi kills the batter in about 7 hours and 31 minutes. This is slightly less than what iPhone 7 offers. Continuous web browsing drains the battery in a little more than 9 hours.

The Xperia XZ supports Qualcomm’s latest quick-charging standard, Quick Charge 3.0, as well as Sony’s Qnovo Adoptive charging, which cleverly assesses the user’s habits and times the charging process accordingly. According to Sony, this prolongs its life for a few hundred cycles.

Sony Xperia XZ Camera

Sony Xperia XZ camera

Sony Xperia XZ camera

Sony improved certain elements in its 23-megapixel sensor, previously seen on Xperia Z5, Xperia X, and Xperia X Performance. The camera features a 24mm ultra-wide lens (in units equivalent for 24mm film) with f/2.0. Instead of optical imaging stabilization, it uses the Active SteadyShot technology, with five-axis balancing, but only when shooting in Full HD resolution. Otherwise, it has three-axis balancing.

The camera has the so-called laser autofocus, which is in fact based on infrared (not laser), and is particularly useful for quick focusing in the dark. In addition is has predictive autofocus, which fixes on subjects in motion, and the standard hybrid contrast/phase auto focus. It also has an infrared RGBC-IR sensor for environmental light color temperature, intended for precise automatic white color balance.

Our Sony Xperia XZ review unit took above-average pics. They have great detail, mostly due to the big resolution, which brings some noise with it, evident when zooming in.

Software noise reduction is automatic in night shots, and is unrealistic and/or surreal at times, again, evident when zooming in.

Ultimately, the Sony Xperia XZ takes stellar daytime images, which measure up to those by any rival flagship. Its night images are a shade poorer.

The 13-megapixel offers a speedy 22mm wide angle selfie lens with f/2.0. This alone is enough to snap some of the best output for a front-facing camera, rivaling other flagships.

Sony Xperia XZ Review Conclusion

Sony Xperia XZ

It costs between $650 and $700, unlocked, for 32GB. As we’ve noted, that’s expensive considering the excellent options available for half as much. But expect to pay the same for a 32GB Galaxy S7 and 32GB iPhone 7.

The Sony Xperia XZ doesn’t match those phones on paper, but it does in user experience. This is a fine phone with an outstanding design, as well as decent performance, battery, and imaging quality.

Pros:

  • Great design and finish
  • IP68 certificated
  • Decent battery autonomy
  • Fluid performance

Cons:

  • Low-light pics noisy
  • Fingerprint reader is not active in USA
  • No FM radio



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