Sony announced two new flagships this year at Mobile World Congress this year including the Xperia XZ Premium and the Xperia XZs. While the Premium will launch in a couple of months in most markets, the company has launched the XZs in India.
The Xperia XZs is a bumped up version of the Xperia XZ which was launched last year including a new camera and more RAM. While most of the features remain the same, I was tempted to try out the new camera features. So here is a quick look at the new Xperia XZs.
Body and design
Sony is probably one of the few companies that try really hard to be different when it comes to designing their smartphones. There aren’t any prominent changes. The design and looks are exactly the same as the Xperia XZ. This means you get Sony’s new Loop design language which honestly looks impressive. It’s a flat design with rounded edges, giving you a nice grip.
Sony has used its patented Alkaleido metal for the back which just a fancy term for a kind of aluminium it uses. It gives off a slight plastic feel, just like the XZ, but it is definitely a premium handset.
The front is all glass with the 5.2-inch display sitting underneath it. The front also has a loudspeaker slit, the earpiece, front camera and the usual light and proximity sensors. At the back is the new 19 MP camera with an LED flash, an RGB light sensor and laser AF. The curved right edge houses the power-button with an embedded fingerprint scanner, the volume rocker and a dedicated camera shutter button. The headphone jack is at the top, the hybrid SIM tray is on the left edge and the USB Type-C port is at the bottom.
Sony has got new colours. While the XZ came in Mineral black, Platinum, Forest blue and Deep pink, the new XZs comes in Black, Warm Silver, Ice Blue. Of course it is also dust and waterproof with IP65/68 certifications.
There is no change in the display. You still get a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS LCD panel with Sony’s Triluminos display and X-Reality Engine technologies. The resolution is Full HD (1920×1080) with a pixel density of 424 ppi. The display is quite good and sharp. Colours look excellent and even brightness is good even while using it outdoors. Even the glass on top of the display has a nice finish and the touch response is on spot.
Chipset, Storage and RAM
The Xperia XZs borrows most of its hardware from its predecessor. So you get a 64-bit, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (MSM8996) chipset clocked at 2.15 GHz, but there is 4 GB RAM on this one compared to 3 GB on the last one. An Adreno 530 GPU takes care of the graphics. Internal storage remains at 64 GB which is expandable up to 256 GB via the hybrid SIM slot.
We are moving from Snapdragon 821 to the 835, and I know sometimes specifications don’t matter, but there is a population which just ignores a smartphone if it has older hardware. Something to think about.
OS and Software
The Xperia XZs arrives with the latest Android 7.1.1 Nougat update with Sony’s light skinning on top. The UI runs smooth. Sony has added new ‘Actions’ feature which basically automate certain features by learning the user’s habits. For instance, it can turn on ‘Do not disturb’ mode when you are at a certain location, or at a certain time of the day, or turns on/off roaming when you are going abroad.
Sadly, Sony still has loaded the OS with a lot of bloatware, which can be annoying for certain users.
Here is where the real changes are. Sony has got a brand new camera which is also loaded on the Xperia XZ Premium. It’s a 19 MP sensor (1/2.3-inch) with a 25 mm f/2.0 lens, a dual-tone flash, predictive and laser auto-focus and an RGBC-IR sensor for natural colour rendering. This new sensor which the company calls ‘Motion Eye’ comes with super slow motion video recording at 960 fps, which is a first on a smartphone. This lets you shoot slow-mo videos that are four times slower than traditional smartphone cameras. Apart from this, there is predictive capture, which can shoot a moment and three frames right before you hit the shutter button.
I tried out these features and they are actually good. The super slow-mo can get tricky as it requires a well lit environment. The predictive capture feature is pretty good and I managed to get some moving subjects without missing the moment. However, the overall quality of the pictures was not as good as I expected from a flagship smartphone. I still need to test the camera thoroughly.
The primary camera can also record 4K video with SteadyShot 5-axis digital stabilisation. The front camera is the same as last year, a 13 MP (1/3.06-inch) sensor with a 22 mm wide-angle lens.
Battery and connectivity
The smartphone still gets a 2,900 mAh battery with support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and Sony’s Qnovo battery tech which elongates the battery’s life. There is also Sony’s Stamina mode that lowers performance to increase the battery time. I need to properly test the battery before I can comment about its performance.
As for connectivity you get a dual-nano SIM hybrid tray, 4G LTE with VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, FM radio, USB Type-C with OTG support.
Sony has been struggling with its smartphones even though they seem to offer an interesting handsets. The updated Xperia XZs doesn’t seem like a game changer to me and I think it would take a beating from most of the flagships out there. I am not saying this is a bad smartphone and I need to test it thoroughly to come to a conclusion, though. My initial few hours with the handset have been decent but not as good as one would feel with a flagship phone.
And then there is the price. At Rs 49,990 it isn’t cheap. Considering its package, it sounds at par with a few flagships, but can it match up to them? Stay tuned for my full review.
Publish date: April 3, 2017 9:00 pm| Modified date: April 4, 2017 10:15 am