It’s simple, isn't it? To write a review every six months, recycling the same kind of blatantly biased opinion on the latest release from X manufacturer. I mean I can quite happily sit here and throw praise on Sony for creating the best phone to date and begin to list the features and specs we all already know… but, but it's kind of cheating in a way because I know, come six months time I'll probably be here again, writing the same recycled stuff once more. And to be perfectly honest, XZ Premium deserves more than this.
I mean the thing is crammed full of technological wonders and worlds firsts I'm still fully amazed it's actually made it to the shelves.
There’s so much going on beneath the display that some youtube commenters have referred to its power as Sony somehow acquiring some kind of black magic, and it's kind of an understandable statement when you see it working. Yeah sure it has the top line Snapdragon 835, it has 4GB of DDR4X, it has 64GB of the fastest UFS2.1 storage paired with USB 3.1 C…. But so do others, and for some reason, this thing is leaving them in its wake.
The largest reason could be that Sony is working closely with Google to help optimise Android and work on features, it could be that Sonys UI is as close to stock as you can get outside of AOSP, it could be none or all the above, but the fact remains… XZ Premium is the fastest Phone in the world right now, and that includes iPhones. But power is just the engine, the system is what you cannot see, only feel in use, so it's only a part of what makes XZ Premium special... The real story is what the put on top of the system board… a 4K HDR10 (high dynamic range) panel, and this time, Sony wants you to fully use it.
Here’s ya box
(its white and is plain, you don’t need pics to fill the review pointlessly.)
Here's what's inside
(stuff, same stuff as usual from your retailer of choice, so MH750 earbuds, UCH12 Quickcharge3 Charger, Cable, paperwork no-one reads)
And here is Xperia XZ Premium in Luminous Chrome
(don't judge, this thing is evil to photograph)
Specs (as always from Sonymobile uk site)
SIM CAPABILITY Single SIM, Dual SIM, Nano SIM
ON THE INSIDE Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 processor
MEMORY AND STORAGE 4GB RAM, 64GB (Single SIM)/64GB (Dual SIM) UFS internal memory
WEIGHT 191 gm
DIMENSIONS 156 x 77 x 7.9 mm
DISPLAY 5.5'' 4K HDR Display, TRILUMINOS™ Display for mobile, X-Reality™ for mobile, Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, sRGB 138%
CAMERA 19MP Motion Eye Camera, 1/2.3” Exmor RS™ for mobile memory stacked sensor, 960 fps Super slow motion videos, Predictive capture, Anti-distortion shutter, Triple image sensing technology
Sony doesn’t like "change" much, instead, they find a formula they like and let it roll for a while. For Z range we had "Omnibalance" which became almost iconic with Sony and although very simplistic, actually won Sony a shedload of design awards. Then came X, and everything got a little muddy design wise. I mean it was Omnibalance but not quite how we knew it, flat display glass was replaced with thicker, rounded glass. The back glass panels were replaced with curved edged Alkaleido metal panels, with curved sides to match. Holding mine now, it still feels so much better than old Omnibalance, but still missing something.
And then came, Xperia XZ.
We'll skip this one though, as it looks, design-wise, pretty much the same as...
Xperia XZ Premium. (like I said, they find a design ideal, and roll with it..)
Loop surface...that's what they call it, having the screen curve round to seamlessly meet the sides that, again, follow the loop onto the back which also loops at the end to meet the sides, an endless loop of a single surface that feels great in your hands (although XZ Premium is stretching the one handed use thing a bit). Unlike its hobbit brother though, the XZ Premium doesn't have a panel of Alkaleido on the back, instead it has a super polished piece of Gorilla Glass 5 matching the same glass on the front. These are met with the same excessive levels of polished sides made out of coated Nylon (yes Nylon but more on why later) and the top and bottom are capped with sizeable chunks of diamond cut aluminium which match the curved shape of the design. It really is a thing of beauty, i say beauty because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and by christ you’re going to see a lot of the eye of the beholder because the XZ Premium is possibly the most reflective surface on earth. It’s stupidly shiny, chrome is a bad, bad choice to anyone who hates fingerprints on stuff, after 5 minutes it resembles the stuff of nightmares for the finest CSI Detectives, luckily though i don't care and will take that -1 point as even with the fingerprint magnet in full swing, it still looks the dogs nads.
A lot has been discussed about the viability of 4K on mobile displays, many say you can't see the difference between 1080 and 2160 on a phone screen. You can, if your eyes are all tickety boo, you definitely can, if you can't see the difference, Vision express have a sale on at the moment and can help you. Insults aside, it's true. Human eyes can detect many things that people long thought not possible, many used to believe we can only detect 36fps, when it's very clear many, almost 100% of us can see 60fps or higher videos. What i can tell you, is that loading up a 4K HDR video on youtube(yup, youtube now works), the experience is amazing to look at, and the colours and vivid lighting really pop out from the screen in the most fluid way i've ever seen. The same experience can be found by watching your favourite 4K HDR streams on the Amazon Prime video app, thanks to HDR10 built in the display you can get the full HDR 4K quality on Jeremy Clarksons face, and for added lols, play counts the wrinkles with the kids, what joy. Netflix is also going to be updating their app soon allowing access to their 4K HDR content on the device, which I'm looking forward to more as some netflix series are personal favourites of mine. The key point is, unlike Z5 Premium, the content for streaming is actually here or coming this time.
Colour rendition has also had a bit of an overhaul. On previous models, the display enhancements were only applicable on image viewing and whilst watching videos. Not with XZ Premium, the variable options of vivid, standard and now Professional mode are on the whole time, allowing you to control what you see all the time.
So like most other manufacturers, Sony has realised that upping the megapixel count doesn’t necessarily mean a better camera, in most cases it actually increases noise in images (more pixels on the 1/2.3 sensors mean closer together, smaller pixels, less light etc) so what Sony has done is simply put less pixels in, but also made them bigger.. Win/Win.
So this camera named the “Motion Eye” is a 19mp/17mp multi-aspect 21mp sensor, you can see my Z5 Premium review for a very boring explanation on why the sensor is all three of those sizes and why only two are usable. What isn't boring though, is the tech inside this camera and how it's used. So bear with me as this section is gonna be the boring bit of the review, full of techy stuff. to those that are truly uninterested in losing these 5 minutes, the camera samples are below innit…
So, the Motion Eye is a triple layer stacked cmos sensor with the third new layer being embedded memory, this tech is currently only available on this phone (and XZS in other parts of the world) and in stupidly priced DSLR cameras.
So what does it do and why should you care? Well, put simply it eliminates the bottleneck in image processing by having an enormous buffer for image storage whilst waiting for the Bionz image system to process the captured data. In fact, it can capture so much data, it can take images before you've even pressed the shutter, and I'm not talking the 1080p timeshift burst style, I'm talking full resolution 19mp best capture options all based on predictive capture and predictive focus, it's that good!
One other thing you may have seen talked about, is possibly the biggest ace for Sony this time, is that it can also record slow motion, in bursts of 960 frames per second… that's 40x slow motion video. Now a truth is that it can only do this in small portions of 5 second segments, but for creativity purposes, it's really really awesome to watch a bee landing on a flower, or a speeding trains wheels slowly turn, etc etc, in fact I'm spending so much time messing around with slowing stuff down I'm pretty impressed with just how much use I am finding for it, and I never really thought I'd use it that much tbh.
Along with the new sensor, it seems sony finally got bored with the old G lens on Xperia handsets, the G lens on XZ Premium is redesigned to capture more detail and gather light more evenly, and i personally think it’s damn good, another part of the design is to clear up the corner distortion and blur that you’d normally find on wide angle lenses, I'm happy to find edges and corners definitely have better sharpness and clarity.
Along with the new camera, you can also find the triple image sensing tech from XZ (Laser autofocus, RGB sensor) please feel free to check out my XZ review for details on these imaging assistance sensors, and how they work. And we also see the return of the 5 axis image stabilisation, a welcome return i might add as Steadyshot EIS trumps OIS every time on video recording.
More samples at end of Review.
Power and battery life
“Only 3230mah battery?!!” they cried, of course they didn’t realise or acknowledge that a 10nm SOC will actually use less mah than a 14nm SOC doing the same thing… 30-40% less to be precise. So when you increase raw power by 35% and put that power on 10nm chips, you actually get 5-10% more battery life, and in my experience, it actually feels longer.
I'm solid getting 5-7 hours screen on time on auto brightness and that includes a bit of streaming and music use too. It handles power REALLY well. Which brings me onto power...
Power and speed are a given these days, but with XZ Premium it feels different, I don’t know how or why, but personally I feel it’s like Sony just sat there in a boardroom whilst designing the specs and just got tired of sacrificing this or that and said “screw it, put the best of everything inside it” and it all gelled brilliantly. There is no faster system, there is no faster RAM, there is no faster storage, there is no faster data transfer, there is no faster cellular, there is no faster Bluetooth, there is no faster autofocus, there is nothing, NOTHING on this phone that could have been made faster, heck… even the 835 CPU runs faster than other 835’s due to the new graphite cooling sheets inside instead of cooling pipes.
Sony threw everything in this, and created a beast! And it’s not even a hot beast, I've never noticed mine get beyond what i’d call “warm” and certainly nowhere near levels of 810 and 820 systems, nowhere even close. This is due to the new cooling sheets that sit behind the display, they take the already reduced heat from the 10nm cpu, and spread it all over instead of pipes that contain localised hotspots. and thankfully, it works.
Another gem is how they've managed to get constant 4G speeds without messing with the external design. now most phones now have multiple antenna that meets on outer casing, separated by a thin band of non-conductive rubber, on XZ Premium what Sony did is have multiple antennas in the top, bottom, and both sides (as well as one connected to a speaker) these work seamlessly in switching whether you are in portrait or landscape, making sure you can get full bandwidth as possible and never will you be "holding it wrong" Again, it just works.
Aside from a speaker volume increase, the audio and audio features are much the same as XZ. To be honest, the audio quality on Xperia is probably the best it is available. When using a good pair of Hi-Res headphones, there is no better listening experience, and that must be true... What was once called a pointless Sony fad on a phone has once again been adopted by many other manufacturers on recent models, not such a fad after all then.
Again, I hate to do this but previous reviews break down the audio features in better detail, i really don’t want to rehash the same information just to add filler.
Xperia + Playstation = Remote play, nuff said.
Although worth mentioning that the Adreno 540 will play anything thrown at it that is a current Android game, it also plays all available emulators with ease too.
Yaknow, last year after X was released, I sold my Z5 Premium to fund a drone…. I deeply regretted it, no lie. X didn’t fill the void at all, XZ didn’t either. Yeah sure they were cool and “new Sony” but… they just weren’t… I dunno… they weren’t natural successors to my previous phone of Z5 Premium.they were to Z5 and later X, but not to my beloved Z5 Premium (and boy o boy, I loved my Z5 premium). When we first heard about this phone's existence (it was leaked last year originally) I knew i would want it and love it, I'm that biased it’s almost a forgone conclusion when they announce them.. But strangely I don’t, I don’t just love “it” I love what it represents and the potential it offers me as a whole package.
If you remove my bias, my openly admitted bias, and put forward my usage, how would I choose?
I need Hi-Res capability
I need power for image editing on the go
I need compatibility with my connected devices
I need the power and display to render and play my drones 4k 60fps files natively
And I need a battery that satisfies all the above for the day on one charge.
There is only one choice, and it’s XZ Premium.
The void has been filled.
Note* Some of the following images have had colour enhancement using Snapseed on Android.
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