Sony Xperia Z1 Review
Sony Xperia Z1 Hands-On Video
The Sony Xperia Z1 is Sony’s latest smartphone, featuring a 20.7 megapixel camera and a host of other features, as Sony looks to compete with some of the top dogs in the mobile phone market.
But can the Z1 compete with some other flagship smartphones on the market, or is it just a more expensive version of the Sony Xperia Z?
Available in three colours, the Sony Xperia Z1 looks sleek and elegant; it’s perfectly suited to those who don’t want to have their phone stand out all of the time, whilst looking extremely smooth.
Nearly the entire phone itself is glass, with just the edges of the phone made of aluminium, giving it a real premium look. One issue with this design is that the glass shows fingerprint marks incredibly easily; we barely had the phone for 10 minutes and it was covered in fingerprints, so you’ll almost certainly have to invest in a case to avoid this problem.
The handset is also pretty bulky as well; it feels sturdy in the hand, but also slightly hard to manage. The edges of the handset almost seem to stick out, and you feel like you are reaching all the way around the phone at a stretch, which is a shame considering how good the handset looks.
The phone also weighs a full 170g, so isn’t light either, but if you don’t mind a slightly larger but heavier phone then it could be ideal.
The design is pretty simple; the right side features the volume and camera buttons along with a strange looking power button, which is a silver colour, whilst all the other buttons are black. We aren’t sure if this is to make the button more obvious, but as it’s a different colour and shape it looks slightly out of place for me.
Other than that it’s all simple, and it’s good to see the USB slot covered with an easy clip-on case cover.
The display is nice a sharp, displaying 441 pixels per inch, in a 5-inch screen, using the same tech as Sony’s phenomenal BRAVIA TVs.
Despite the pone’s apparent downfalls, there’s one feature which makes the Xperia Z1 stand out; its dustproof and waterproof (for 1.5m for 30 minutes) capabilities, so long as the phone’s clips are all shut around the ports, turn the device into a hybrid phone- half way between stylish and rugged. You can even take snaps when you’re underwater which is obviously a great feature.
Phone Set Up
The Z1 runs on Android 4.2, which can be upgraded to 4.4 easily, and runs really well. Like with most Androids, you can quite simply get everything you need first on the front screen whether it’s football scores or YouTube.
You can add a series of widgets to the lock screen, meaning that you don’t need to unlock the phone to see some of your apps, as well as accessing the camera easily from the lock screen.
The touch screen is really responsive, and we couldn’t fault it. Even when running multiple apps, the phone kept up well and showed us loads of little features we didn’t know were there.
The phone even reacts to the amount of light in the room and adjusts its own brightness to suit you perfectly, often saving battery as well.
Obviously featuring a 20.7 megapixel snapper, the Z1 aims to blow all other smartphone cameras out of the water. It offers several ways of utilizing the camera, with a handy camera widget which allows you to take photos, create dynamic fantasy photos and take pictures which are instantly shared with your social media accounts.
Besides this you have all the apps you would come to expect built into the phone along with Sony’s own brand of apps including Walkman, Album, Movies and Sony Select, which allow you to view your media library easily and buy more media.
The phone also comes with TrackID built in, which is a built-in Shazam app that identifies songs quickly and easily without long loading times. This app can also be installed on the home screen or lock screen, meaning you won’t need to go through the hassle of finding it before the song ends.
It’s all easy to personalise on the Z1, and it’s definitely a well-designed piece of kit under the hood.
Camera & Video
The Z1 has a great camera for sure; 20.7 megapixels is a true testament to the time Sony has put into the snapper, and the results are easy to see.
Photos come out incredibly sharp and vivid, whilst the zoom is also a great feature, with the camera zooming 3x using Clear Image technology, keeping images sharp and avoiding blur even when zoomed in to the max.
The camera even adapts to the conditions you are taking the photo in, giving you the best settings for every single shot, no matter what weather or climate you find yourself in.
HD recording is aided by the phone’s Steady Shot feature, which avoids blur and shaky shooting, resulting in steady and stunning videos, no matter who the director happens to be.
All in all, the camera is a stunner and separates the Z1 from many other smartphones on the market right now, without altering the phone’s build in any major way, unlike some of its competitors such as with the Nokia Lumia 1020.
Always a constant struggle for smartphones, as technology improves; battery life has never been able to keep up.
We were surprised by the Z1 though; it seemed to last an age on standby, and even when we were playing around with it more or less constantly, it continued to run well. After playing with the phone for the evening and leaving it on standby overnight, I was shocked to see the device still had a healthy chunk of battery lifer remaining (approximately 50%).
The phone comes with an option to use battery saving mode, and even gives you a nice rundown of exactly how long the battery should last on your current usage rate. The Z1 also gives you the option to turn on STAMINA mode or low battery mode, by reducing the use of apps and even wi-fi and mobile networks to save your battery for as long as possible, which is a nice touch.
The power usage area in settings also gives you a chance to see what is burning the most energy and an option to help you lower its usage. To this end, it’s a really impressive collaboration by Sony and Android in my eyes.