Review: Sony Xperia Z1 – Zip Through

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Introduction:

Original Xperia Z marked the beginning of the Sony’s new top-end phones segment. Since then Sony has launched the variations of the Xperia Z. Xperia Z Ultra was the biggest in the series. And today here we’re with the Xperia Z1. It’s been hardly six months and Sony is seen advertising their latest handset Z1 which is supposed to take the flagship position from the original Xperia Z.

The original one is far from being aged but the flaws needed to be patched. Z1 exactly tries to do that. Xperia Z1 isn’t only improved or patched but also carries an upgraded specsheet. On paper it sounds too good, let’s see what story reality has to tell.

Design:
Xperia Z1 carries the same design from Xperia Z1. It’s the same ‘Omnibalance’ design which Sony keeps tauting since the birth of Z and glass and aluminum for its construcion.

Xperia Z1 has the 5 inch Full HD (1080p) screen just like the Z. It’s the regular LCD panel.Compared to the original Z which had compact bezel, Xperia Z1 has rather thick bezels especially above and below the display. Sony’s explanation is it was needed to accommodate the bigger sensor. Some might argue that Sony could have reduced the bezel and put the little bigger display on Z1. For example, at the similar dimensions LG G2 has 5.2 inch display. But the bigger chin has its own benefits. It lets you hold the phone more comfortably and at the same time you can reach the bottom row in the interface without losing the grip. So it’s all up to how you view it.

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Above the display there is Sony logo in the middle. To its left there’s a 2MP front camera which is also capable of 1080p videos. Further above Sony logo, there’s a notch which holds both the earpiece and the tri-color notification LED. Must give a point here to Sony.

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On the left side of the logo there is a ambient and proximity light sensor. On the top there’s 3.5mm audio jack. On the bottom of the phone, there’s a loudspeaker and mic, both under the same grill.

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On the right side, from top to bottom, there’s a microSIM card slot, then a power cum lock-unlock key, followed by the volume rocker and near the bottom there’s a dedicated camera key. On the left side there’s microSD slot and microUSB slot along with docking connector as you can see in the pictures.

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The back of the Z1 uses the Gorilla Glass 2. The 20MP camera is placed near the top left corner, not the ideal placement. You’d want to make sure that your fingers don’t come in the way of your photos. The camera is accompanied by the single LED flash.Except for the camera,there’s practically nothing on the back. We guess camera could be placed in a better way.
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To us, Xperia Z1 didn’t feel as premium as original Xperia Z was.Especially rim that runs around the phone feels little cheap.

Sony Xperia Z1 is yet another device which is dust-proof and waterproof as well. Sony has managed to the water-proofing property while keeping the headphone jack phone but other ports such as microUSB, SIM and microSD are still flap protected. We’ve even shot a video to demo this,

Hardware, Performance and Battery:
Sony has bumped up the specsheet with Z1. Android is the land full of specsheet craziness so nothing actually is future proof. Yet, Xperia Z1 uses the fastest processor available in the market at the time of writing this review. It’s the Snapdragon 800 SoC with quad-core processor clocked at 2.2 GHz. So you can say it’s got some muscles there. 2GB of RAM goes along with it to have enough room for a multi-tasker. Overall, in our day to day usage we didn’t even face a minor lag. Phone was snappy almost all the time. We’d be surprised if it had lagged anywhere. For the people who love benchmakrs, here are some for you.

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On Android 4.2.2 JellyBean

Sony has used new OptiContrast display panel and various other technologies such as TRILUMIOUS disaply and X-Reality engine for mobile for Z1’s display. But the display left us disappointed.The display like Xperia Z, is again poor. Colors are washed out, poor viewing angles and bad sunlight legibility. Full HD (1080p) resolution is the only thing that stands in favor of the display. Sony could take some more time and put  better display on Z1.

Despite of having 3000 mAh battery, its performance wasn’t spectacular. The original Xperia Z was much better in terms of battery. Even with STAMINA mode and power saver mode turned on,it barely managed to pull for a day (whole 24hrs). There could be two reasons, either our unit had specific problem and it was a pre-production unit too or since ours didn’t come with a charger, we had to use other Sony charger so it could have affected its performance.

Camera:
Xperia Z1 camera has 20MP sensor, largest on Android phones till date. Apart from the mega-pixel count, it’s actual size is big as well, it’s 1/2.3 inch which should let in more light. It also uses Sony’s G Lens and BIONZ image processing algorithm. So, on paper it seems strong. How does it perform in real life?

The 20 MP camera on Xperia Z1 is much improved than the 13 MP shooter on the Xperia Z. It’s not just about the mega-pixel count. Sony has paid attention to the negative feedback which Xperia Z’s camera received and has tried to address many flaws.

The image quality is definitely improved. Camera actually resolves very good amount of details something which Xperia Z’s camera very rarely did. Another problem which we saw with Xperia Z’s camera which made the image way too soft has been rectified to much better extent. It only appeared sometimes in low-light photos. The purple tint issue which was present on Xperia Z’s camera is absent from Z1’s camera as well.

Now little about the problems. The images produced by Z1’s camera had little dull colors. There was also problem with the contrast and white balance. Low-light photography also needs some attention.

Sony has put all new camera UI on Xperia Z1. It is very simple to use. By default, camera starts in the 20MP resolution and Superior Auto mode. There’s manual mode present but it’s functionality is limited in full resolution i.e. 20MP mode. Apart from tweaking the ISO levels and white balance there isn’t much you can do. Same for the auto mode. But once you select lower resolution,say 8MP, you get whole lot of scene options to get the most out of your camera.

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The AR (augmented reality) mode is what your kids would love. It can create dinosaurs of fish or plants and flowers around you. You just need to hold the phone steady and let it do its work. The ‘Timebusrt Shift’ mode takes 60 frames in two seconds to create a burst of photos. You can instantly select the best shot or save it to edit later.
The Info-Eye mode does the job of providing you the places and objects around you. You can even use it to scan barcodes, QR codes and even business cards. With Social Live you broadcast videos to your Facebook friends in real time (live).
Like Lenses on Windows Phone, which expand the functionality of the camera, you can add similar apps to the camera in a similar way. Such an app is Sony’s Motiongraph. It lets you create GIFs on the go.

Camera Samples,

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Video recording sample (Full HD)