Not being able to move away from their previous flagship Xperia 'Z' series, the company, at the IFA 2016 launched a new smartphone- the Xperia XZ.
At the end of September, the same Xperia XZ came to India with a hefty price tag of Rs. 51,990 (best buy Rs. 49,990). Sony has been aggressively promoting the Xperia XZ in India. The highlights of the smartphone will be its design, 23MP rear camera, and the flagship Snapdragon 820 chipset.
We were at the launch event of the smartphone, and Sony has offered us a black review unit of the smartphone. The smartphone is available in two more colors as well- Platinum and Forest Blue. Here's what we think of the smartphone after using it extensively ( for a week).
Sony's trademark design language!
Starting off with the design, the Sony Xperia XZ is a good looking smartphone ticking all the right boxes. We must say that it's a rectangular slab, same as the Xperia X with a polycarbonate frame around the sides and metal plate on the back.
The Xperia XZ comes with traditional Sony's Omni-balance design language measuring 146 x 72 x 8.1mm and weighs at 161grams. This time, the company has added a loop surface design in XZ, where it comes with attenuated edges between the frame and adjacent surface, giving us comfy hold.
As said earlier, the rear panel is made up of metal. Sony used a new material called 'Alkaledo' to make it more premium, and boy, it looks superior than the previous Sony smartphones.
Up front, there is a 5.2-inch display with curved 2.5D glass and the Xperia XZ's fingerprint sensor is embedded into the power button itself. Rounding the device to its sides shows us the volume rockers below the power button on the right side and a dedicated camera shutter button below the volume rockets.
The hybrid nano- SIM card tray slot is present on the left side of the smartphone and the 3.5mm headphone jack on top leaving the USB Type-C port on the button portion of the device.
As always, Sony is keeping on improving themselves as the best smartphone designers in modern times and the Xperia XZ is one more beautiful addition to their well-designed product portfolio.
Gorgeous 1080p display
Sony has their unique style of manufacturing smartphones. While every manufacturer is looking for a bigger screen smartphone these days, Sony just sticks to the basics and included a 5.2-inch display, which is a 1080p panel.
Devices released with Full HD panels such as the OnePlus 3; Xiaomi Mi 5 impressed us a lot. And the Sony Xperia XZ is no exception. Sony has done a great job with the LCD panel on the XZ as it is vibrant and text appeared punchy all the time.
It has got great viewing angles, and the sunlight legibility is far from better on any 1080p screen. All the Sony's traditional features such as the 'X-Reality,'; Triluminos' are present in the XZ as well.
Poor Flagship Performance
The Sony Xperia XZ is powered by the flagship Snapdragon 820 chipset with 3GB of RAM. With the top-notch hardware, we expected that the smartphone would blow away all the tasks with ease. However, that isn't the case. The smartphone fails to handle the processor-intensive tasks such as the Snapchat, Asphalt 8, Nova 3, and several other pre-loaded camera apps.
We have also seen noticeable lag while browsing web using Google Chrome browser and the phone starts overheating even after continuously using WhatsApp for more than five minutes. Furthermore, the lag increases when an application is installing from Play Store. Several times, we switched off the phone and turned it back due to the responsiveness.
At first run, the phone ran the Asphalt 8 with no issues. However, we faced some frame drops in the 'Tokyo Drift' level. Speaking about other hardware specifications, the phone comes with 64GB of internal storage with support for expandable storage via a microSD card slot.
As said earlier, the phone has a fingerprint sensor embedded into the power button, which unlocks the device quickly. But, most of the time, when we tried to lock the device, we ended up with unlocking the phone as the button doesn't offer that much of tactile feedback, which is weird.
Great Camera With Sony Add-ons
Sony' smartphones always provided great camera setup, and the Xperia XZ is no exception. The XZ comes with the same setup as the Xperia X but has undergone a subtle changes under-the-hood. Sony, for the first time, has used a 5-axis stabilization in any smartphone. Moreover, the Xperia XZ also has laser autofocus system and a dedicated color sensor for capturing real life images.
We are looking at the 23MP sensor on the rear with the company's Exmor RS sensor along with large f/2.0 aperture and LED flash. As expected, the camera performance on this phone is top-notch, depending on the situation. With the 5-axis hardware stabilization, the device performs well in the low-light conditions.
In bright sunlight conditions, the rear camera captures great images. However, we observed some blue hue around the corners. Apart from this, we haven't faced any issues with the camera, and the colors appeared punchy, and they are right to the real image as well.
Sony's camera app hasn't changed for a while now. I have used almost all the Xperia Z flagship phones, and the camera UI is the same till now. There are some dedicated Sony's modes such as the AR mode, 4K video, sweep panorama, Time-lapse Mode, Light Painting Mode, etc. and they are hilarious to play around.
Up front, there is a 13MP front-facing camera, which captures some excellent shots in good lighting conditions, but fails to inspire confidence in low-light conditions. The images shot under darker conditions are on the warmer side with less color gradient.
Now, coming to the camera's biggest problem, the Xperia XZ heats a lot while using the camera app. Although, many Sony phones in recent past are plagued with the same issue. Besides this, the camera performance of the phone is top-notch and matches with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10.
The Sony Xperia XZ runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with the company's own Xperia UI on top of it. Unlike Samsung's TouchWiz UI, Sony's Xperia UI doesn't feature many changes to the native Google's stock OS.
Diving into the OS, the notification panel is almost same as that of stock Android with quickly customizable toggles. The inbuilt app drawer comes integrated with Google Now feature, which is a good thing to see. The phone comes with Sony's gallery and music apps along with little bloatware such as the Facebook app, TrackID, etc.
Also, there are some additional display tweaks such as double tap to wake, double tap anywhere on the home screen to sleep. Features aside, the software on the Xperia XZ is a little buggy as we have noticed some lag while browsing through the apps, under the multitasking menu, etc.
Noticeable lag can also be seen while switching between two apps from the multitasking menu. At the time of our review, the phone picked up a software update, but that didn't fix any of these choppy bugs.
Mediocre battery life
The Sony Xperia XZ comes with a 2,900mAh battery, which barely runs a day with continuous 4G usage. We used the phone with Reliance Jio 4G SIM card, and the phone has support for VoLTE as well. The device offered us a screen-on time between three hours to 4 hours, which is average. Do make a note that, we used the device with 4G LTE all the time.
When used the phone with Wi-Fi network, it offered us a screen-on time just above four hours. Sony included some battery saver options such as 'Stamina mode' and 'Ultra-Stamina Mode' which extends the battery life little more.
An Over-Priced Product
After using the Xperia XZ for more than a week, we came to a clear conclusion that the smartphone is heavily overpriced and doesn't justify the price tag at all. The underwhelming performance, mediocre battery life, and buggy software are the major letdowns of the phone.
Finally, we won't recommend a smartphone with these many issues. There are several other options such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge and the HTC 10, which recently received a price cut. And, more importantly, the Huawei P9 with a slightly better camera. If you can spend a little more, the Google Pixel is coming in next few weeks as well.
The Sony Xperia XZ is another disappointment from the already struggling smartphone vendor.