- Specification matches top tier mobiles
- Graphically heavy and demanding apps launch with ease
- The design looks a little dated compared to the more curved handsets available
- Slow motion camera mode is fiddly to capture a good shot
As we all know, the battle for the mobile top spot is a difficult one to win. Samsung have recently released their S8, and Apple’s iPhone 7 is completely smashing it. Even smaller brands like OnePlus with their new OnePlus 5 are sneaking their way ahead of the pace. So Sony really have to pull something out the bag with the new Sony Xperia XZ Premium. Phones generally concentrate on one or two areas where they shine, and Sony has always been about the camera, which to tell you the truth, is pretty awesome on the new XZ.
First thing to notice about the handset once it’s in your hands is it’s size, and very harsh blocky edges. Sony have strayed away from the current curvy market trend that we’ve seen in the new Samsung S8 and iPhone 7 alike. It’s very square, and gives off this business like impression, as if it was the go-to phone for a typical office worker to have. The issue here is that it looks pretty dated when put next to the more modern curved handsets.
There are two colours to choose from, which are of a deepsea black, luminous chrome and a bronze pink variation. We were sent the black coloured phone, and its incredibly shiny, and sensitive to finger prints. The XZ is covered in glass, giving the phone a premium finish. The top and bottom parts of the handset are strangely made from plastic, which does ruin the aesthetic somewhat. There is Gorilla Glass 5 present to give the phone some protection as well. I have no doubt that you would want to get this into some kind of case as quickly as possible. Finger prints alone will quickly turn this handset into a greasy nightmare. The bezel that surrounds the screen is quite thick too, which I feel is a little unforgiving in this day and age, considering Samsung and Apple are coming out with sleeker looking handsets.
Holding the device I had no problem. The square shape isn’t enough to put me off. The only problem is the physical size of the handset. There’s no way that even someone with the largest of hands are going to be able to reach to the top of the screen while using the handset with one hand. The lock/unlock button on the right hand side of the handset doubles as a fingerprint scanner, which does give the phone a sleek look as there are no physical buttons present. It’s easy to reach too and reacts pretty quickly to your thumb. The volume rocker is just above and again, looks sleek.
The jack plug for headphones is placed on top, which I love. It means wired headphones can lead away from your pocket nicely if stored upright. The USB-C port has been placed on the bottom in a standard fashion. The whole device has an IP68 rating, which means it’ll survive a dunk in the bath if you’re like me and knock your phone off of the side on a regular basis.
The screen is a selling point too. Coming in at 5.5 inches, with a 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160. However, most of the time you’re going to be seeing a 1080p downscaled version. 4K resolutions only activate once 4K resolutions have been detected in the media you are watching. So this means anything streamed from Amazon Prime or even something recorded from your video camera. The reason Sony has opted to do this is because running a 4K resolution on a mobile will destroy battery life very quickly. Downscaling the resolution ensures the battery life will continue to be spent over the course of a day rather than a few hours. Even still, because of the Triluminos screen and 807ppi, colours still looked pretty amazing.
The specifications are pretty standard for a flagship handset. Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, paired with 4GB RAM. There’s even 64GB storage that’s available as standard, no other sizes though. It’s a decent size but this phone advertises its 4K screen pretty heavily. If you’re going to be storing a lot of 4K content, then be prepared to have to invest in an extra microSD card. It supports cards up to 256GB. After running a Geekbench 4 session we can give it a final score of 1914 on a single-core processor and 6467 on a multi-core processor. Pretty quick considering the Samsung S8 gave us a score of 2015 on a single-core processor and a 6413 on a multi-core processor.
Performance was as expected. Launching graphically heavy apps were a smooth quick process and didn’t give us any issues in things like dropped frames or even stutter. The Android 7.1 version that comes with the handset is only littered with minimal Sony bloatware, and didn’t really get in the way of my overall experience.
The main feature that Sony seems to be using to draw people in is its slow motion capture. One notable change is the increase in frames per second during the slow motion action shots. Usually phones increase their rate to 240-frames per second, but Sony gives you a seriously impressive 920-frames per second. That means this phone is able to capture so much more detail and quality in its slow motion shots. Pair this with the colourisation and impressive sharpness, and you’ve got yourself a blinding shot.
However, the way you capture a slow motion shot is extremely fiddly and could be enough to put some people off. To activate slow motion you first have to be recording a standard video. From here you need to click the dedicated slow motion button to activate the feature. Comparing this to say the slow motion timeline feature on my Samsung S7, capturing certain shots can be a little difficult, especially if they’re impromptu. You really need to plan the slow motion shot before actually capturing it.
Megapixel count is slightly behind the older Z5, but because of this, it means Sony is able to deliver much better performance in low light settings. I wasn’t too impressed with the still photos however, as indoor shots seemed a little noisy compared to the camera on a Samsung S8 for example. This camera for still shots does sit on par with something like the older OnePlus 3T or even an iPhone 6. Colours though are still vivid enough to produce some good looking shots.
The Sony XZ Premium is a pretty solid phone. My only issues with the device is all in its design. There’s nothing really wrong with the handset’s specification at all, and definitely sits on par with other flagship devices in terms of speed, camera quality and even screen resolutions. It just looks very dull compared to other handsets on the market. But for those wanting a phone that looks very business ready, then this is the handset for you. The sony Xperia XZ Premium is available through Vodafone for as little as £36 a month.