So far, it hasn’t been Sony’s year in the smartphone space. Some serious cost-cutting plagued the success of the earlier launched Xperia X. Neither was it equipped with the top-drawer specs nor did it boast the premium metal and glass build like last year’s Xperia Z5.

Though, it seems the Japanese giant wants to propel itself and get back in the game with the new Xperia XZ. It has all the makings of a real flagship — with the latest Snapdragon 820 processor, an upgraded 23MP camera with OIS, fully water-resistant, alongside an all aluminium unibody. So is the new Xperia XZ a flagship phone worth recommending? Priced at Rs 49,000, we try to find out if it has enough to take over the likes of the Galaxy S7, LG G5, or the Huawei P9.

Build and Design

While Sony did make some compromises with the Xperia X, though there are no signs of that undersaturated budget vibe with the Xperia XZ. This one looks like a flagship from every angle. The outer chassis uses an aluminium alloy called ‘Alkaleido’, which lends the phone a rather clean, elegant look. Also, it makes it less prone to fingerprints

The Xperia XZ still retains that flat-slab rectangular look of its predecessors but fits nicely in hand thanks to its subtly curved edges. The power button on the right also doubles as a fingerprint scanner. While it may take time getting used to its location and feel, but once it’s in your muscle memory, it super fast and easily accessible.

Overall, I was impressed with the Xperia XZ’s design. It’s probably Sony’s best-looking phone till date. That said, its bezels still seem broad and chunky, which spoiled the party for me. It’s not exactly a snug fit in the palm compared to the likes of Samsung Galaxy S7 or the Huawei P9.

Display

The phone packs a 5.2-inch Full HD display, which makes it feel a bit behind times when Android flagships like the LG G5 and the Galaxy S7 come with 4K screens. That said, the phone’s Full HD display is no slouch. It’s vivid, sharp, and visually stunning. Colours pop-up whether you’re watching HD videos or playing games. If you’re into vibrant and punchy colours, the Sony Xperia Z should be your go-to device. It boasts excellent contrast ratios and colour saturation levels. Besides, the screen has enough brightness levels to deal with sunlight effortlessly.

Hardware and Performance

Under the hood, the Sony Xperia XZ packs Qualcomm 820 processor bundled with 3GB of RAM and Adreno 530 GPU. As expected, everything seems super-smooth from web browsing to multitasking. Apps open in no time, and there are zero lags or stutters as you navigate through the phone’s UI. Even high-end games like Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 5run flawlessly on the Xperia XZ, with no loss in frame rates or stutters whatsoever.

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In our synthetic benchmark tests, the Xperia XZ bagged an impressive 143596 on Antutu, which is pretty close to the OnePlus 3. While in Geekbench 4, it racked up single and multi-core scores of 1653 and 3778 respectively.

Besides, the Xperia XZ also gets Sony’s trademark IP68 water resistance feature. So you can check your mail or your Twitter feed in the shower, with no hassles.

The Xperia XZ also supports high-res audio playback. Also, it’s packed with built-in audio features that significantly enhance sound quality. Just make sure you’ve a good pair of headphones, and be enchanted by the phone’s aural experience.

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Besides, even the fingerprint scanner integrated with the power-button is quick, responsive, and I faced no issues unlocking the device.

The phone’s 2900 mAh battery is nothing outstanding but easily manages to eke out one full day of usage. It’s certainly on par with most Android flagships like the Galaxy S7. It juices up quickly well with the bundled charger that supports Quick Charge 3.0. You can comfortably get through half a day after just 30 minutes of charge. The phone can also learn and adapt to your charging habits. The Qnovo-equipped battery charging software ensures you don’t overcharge the battery, which is one of the leading causes of battery damage.

The Sony Xperia XZ isn’t a radical change but has all the traits of a true flagship.

As far as storage, the Xperia XZ comes with 64GB of built-in storage which is expandable up to 128 GB via microSD slot. Connectivity features on the phone include 4G LTE, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, A-GPS and GLONASS.

Software

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The smartphone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the company’s Xperia UI skin. It’s pretty much the same user experience as previous Xperia handsets. Thankfully, it hasn’t been victimised by some heavy Android skinning. You get the same drop down notifications panel and quick access to settings. Overall, the phone’s UI feels snappy and responsive and doesn’t intervene with the overall stock Android experience. Besides, Sony has added a nifty comprehensive interactive guide for users to get the most out of the device, such as how to improve battery life, use gestures, tweak colour settings and more.

Camera

The Xperia XZ gets an upgraded 23MP rear snapper with a large 1/2.3-inch Sony IMX300 sensor. Apparently, the phone’s rear camera packs three sensors — the image sensor itself, an RGBC-Infrared sensor along with Laser Autofocus. Images shot in broad daylight look exceptionally good, full of details and vibrant. There are no signs of blurriness even when you zoom right into a photo. Photos look visually stunning, crisp, and the phone’s rear camera is certainly on par with the likes of the Galaxy S7, if not better.

And thanks to its 5-axis image stabilisation, the Xperia XZ also captures motion shots like a pro. I was taking a few sample shots of my pet while he was and about, and rarely came across any blurry shots. The feature also comes in handy while shooting 4K videos. Yes, the device can also shoot videos in 4K which look impressive as well.

Images shot in broad daylight look exceptionally good, full of details and vibrant.

Though it does struggle in low-light conditions — but so does any smartphone owing to their smaller sensor sizes.  That said, the Xperia XZ still performs admirably in dimly-lit environments. Barring some noise-levels creeping in, you still see a lot of details.

Besides, the Xperia XZ also offers a lot more controls. The manual control mode lets you tweak the white balance, colour balance, object tracking, photo and video resolution, along with storage options.

The phone’s 13MP selfie shooter is a great performer as well. In the right conditions, it can easily outclass its competition. Selfies captured turn out sharp, clear, and full of details.

Pros:

  • Looks premium
  • Solid overall performance
  • Great set of cameras
  • Supports high-res audio
  • Fully water-resistant

Cons:

Still chunky for one-handed usage

Wrap-Up

The new Sony Xperia XZ isn’t a radical change but has all the traits of a true flagship. It’s crammed with a lot of power, its design aesthetics are almost Zen-like, and boasts one of the best smartphone cameras. Besides, it’s ideal for multimedia consumption with its vibrant Full-HD screen, hi-res audio support, and a reliable battery that gets fast-charging. The phone offers a top-notch Android experience, and the overall performance in every area makes it one heck of a flagship worth considering.

My only minor gripe would probably be its chunky bezels, as it doesn’t fit as well in the palm compared to the Huawei P9 or the Galaxy S7. If you can make amends with that, the Xperia XZ has everything you’re looking for in a flagship Android smartphone.    

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Build and Design
8
Display
8.5
Performance
9
Camera
9
Battery
7.5
Features
8
Value for Money
8

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