Thursday, 13 October 2016 16:21

Sony’s Xperia XZ flagship (first looks)

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Sony has started accepting pre-orders for its new Xperia XZ which will be available from 20 October.

iTWire had a private briefing with John Featherstone, managing director of Sony Mobile Communications, Oceania, and a close look at the new Xperia XZ – its new flagship model that sits above the Xperia X Performance (iTWire review here).

In my Xperia X Performance review I said it was a good flagship that could be even better given the basic hardware ingredients are there, but it lacked that je ne sais quois. Software and firmware updates will make a difference (it was an early review sample).

So starting from that base, Featherstone made sure to point out the evolution and revolution from the older Z series and the newer X Performance. They come down to camera, battery and design.

What follows is not a full review, but rather observations based on first looks.

Sony says it builds on a long tradition. Its camera is better, the phone’s battery life is better (due to Smart Assist and Sony’s new Qnovo charging), and it has Sony's superior quality – built in a Sony owned factory ensuring Sony’s brand, quality and pride is firmly stamped on each handset. 

Telstra is the sole Telco launch partner for the XZ and has plans from $80 to $195 per month depending on data and free SMS/Calls. It is also including a set of Sony’s noise-cancelling “buds” valued at $79.95 that really do work. Details here.

The phone has a recommended price of $999 from JB Hi-Fi and Sony online store.

So what do you get?

Sony Xperia XF, model F8331

  • Screen: 5.2”; 1920 x 1080; 424ppi; Triluminous; IPS display, Gorilla Glass;
  • 70.9% screen to body ratio (there are largish bars top and bottom);
  • Qualcomm, quad-core, 820 – 2 x 2.15GHz and 2 x 1.6GHz;
  • 3GB RAM; 32GB; micro-SD slot up to 256GB;
  • Rear camera: 23MP; f/2.0; IMX300; predictive hybrid laser/phase-detection/contrast autofocus; digital image stabilisation (X and Y direction and yaw, pitch, and roll shake); HDR; RGBC-IR white balance sensor; single LED flash; 4K record; hardware shutter key;
  • Front camera: 13MP; f/2.0; HD record;
  • Wi-Fi AC dual band, 2 x 2 MIMO; Bluetooth 4.2 LE - A2DP, aptX; Hi-Res audio; NFC; fingerprint reader; 3.5mm audio; ANC mic; stereo speakers;
  • LTE Cat 9 450/50Mbps (not sure of number of bands – assume most);
  • 2900mAh battery; Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 charger); Qnovo battery care; 72-hour endurance rating; Stamina and Ultra Stamina modes; USB-C (older USB 2.0 spec lacking Thunderbolt);
  • Android 6.x – update to 7.x soon. Sony’s UX is a light touch over stock Android with most mods supplied as apps;
  • IP65/68 rating – dust and water resistant, not water proof;
  • 46 x 72 x 8.1mm x 161g ALKALEIDO alloy construction;
  • Colours: Mineral Black, Forest Blue;
  • PS4 Dual Shock controller connectivity and PS4 remote play; and
  • Sony Assist – a machine learning app that monitors how you use it over a four-week period and adjusts parameters accordingly.

To position this – where the X Performance was below the Samsung GS7 or LG G5, this is up there with the best. In theory, it should have a superior camera although it is missing the higher res GS7 AMOLED or G5 IPS screens. Its IPS LCD is not a deal breaker in any way.

This will be reviewed over the coming weeks. As Featherstone said, “You can’t really appreciate the phone unless you are Xperienced.”

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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