Sometimes discussions about great mobile phones devolve the Samsung vs Apple battle. Which is kind of unfair in light of other brands which offer models just about as good, often at lower prices. I have a real soft spot for the Sony Xperia range, largely because I love the bold styling. And as I discovered some months ago, its $999 premium model, the Sony Xperia XZ, was pretty much a match for the others.
But that phone is no longer the premium model. The new premium model is the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. No mistaking its position in the lineup then.
The first thing that makes the phone stand out as a premium model is the display. This is 5.5 inches and with a frankly astonishing resolution of 4K. More specifically, 2160 by 3840 pixels, which is technically Ultra High Definition rather than 4K. Either way, that’s a big step up in resolution. Peering carefully though my reading glasses and a big magnifying glass, black text on white still continued to look like super smooth high resolution print on paper. Only by using a jeweller’s loupe could I (barely) make out the pixels.
It doesn’t matter in the slightest, but the pixel density of this phone is 801ppi, compared to 570ppi for the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and 401ppi for the iPhone 7 Plus.
The display also supports high dynamic range images and uses some of Sony’s TV picture processing to improve the colours and so forth.
Covering the display – and the rear of the phone as well – is Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The phone is IP65/68 rated, which means dust proof and safe against water jets and immersion into water more than a metre deep. All that is, of course, for safety and security in case things go wrong, not an invitation to take it swimming. As Sony says in its web page footnote, “You should not put the device completely underwater; or expose it to seawater, salt water, chlorinated water or liquids such as drinks.” That’s good advice for all phones.
The Sony Xperia XZ phone keeps with the uncompromisingly rectangular lines of many of Sony’s recent models. Its left and right edges are rounded, allowing it to be picked up easily (and in any case, it’ll likely end up in a case, as most phones are). I guess whether you like the styling is all a matter of taste. I glanced at another review where they clearly hated it. I really like the simplicity. Each to their own.
Inside it runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which is about as fast as things get. It has eight cores, four running at up to 2.45GHz and the other four 1.9GHz. It supports Cat 16 LTD downloads of up to one gigabit per second and Cat 13 uploads of up to 150Mbps.
As always, those figures depend on the phone actually implementing the full functionality, there being locations where the cell towers also support that functionality, and the load on them. This phone has these features implemented. Telstra – you can get the phone from Telstra on a plan – has Gigabit LTE available in a small areas in the centre of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Sony says that “Typical speeds for Gigabit capable devices are in the range of 5 to 300 Mbps in 4GX areas”.
The phone also has Telstra’s Blue Tick, which means Telstra reckons it works well in more remote areas.
The processor has 4GB of working RAM, while the phone packs 64GB of storage (using the new high speed Universal Flash Storage specification).
The camera backs off on the resolution a little from the non-premium XZ, down to 19 megapixels maximum (although it starts in a 17MP 16:9 mode). A 1/2.3 inch Exmor RS sensor is used. Amongst the features are five axis image stabilisation, Sony’s f/2.0 G lens, predictive hybrid autofocus, 4K video and a super slow motion video mode with 960 frames per second shooting. There’s also a dedicated camera button which starts the camera from standby, and acts as the shutter button. When the phone is held in landscape position, the button is located in the place where you’d find the shutter release on a camera.