We got our hands on the Sony Xperia XZ mid-October to initially see what the X series flagship was all about. After quite a wait, we finally received a review unit from our friends at Sony Philippines and took it out for a spin. With the XZ, Sony brings back the dust and water resistance we often used to see in the Japanese brand’s devices plus a considerable bump up in its SoC choice. Is the flagship device of the X series up to snuff or does it fall a little flat? Let’s find out in this review.
Before all that, let’s take a look at the specs for the Sony Xperia XZ.
Sony Xperia XZ Specifications
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Processor
- 3GB of RAM
- Adreno 530 GPU
- 5.2-inch Full HD Triluminous IPS LCD Display with X-Reality Engine
- 64GB of Expandable Storage
- 23-Megapixel Rear Camera; f/2.0, PDAF, LED Flash
(Exmor RS Mobile Image Sensor, Laser AF Sensor, and RGBC-IR)
- 13-Megapixel Front Camera; f/2.0
- 3G, LTE
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- Fingerprint Scanner
- IP68 Certification for Dust and Water Resistance
- 2900mAh Battery; Quick Charge 3.0,
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Php 37,990
What’s in the Box?
The Sony Xperia XZ comes in a clean, white cardboard box on top and opens up to hues of red and purple on its sides. Now that you have the box open, you’ll see the Sony Xperia XZ covered in a protective film that explains the orientation of your SIM cards or SIM card plus Micro SD card. Lift up the partition and you’ll see the USB Type-C cable and documentation tucked into neat little packages as well with the in-ear headphones and USB wall charger under them.
Same ‘Ol Sony Design Language
After you peel off the protective film on the front and back of the Sony Xperia XZ, you’ ll see that its design is definitely nothing new to those familiar with Xperia smartphones of the past. It’s the same rectangular slab, that you’ll either love or hate, but its frame has been slightly rounded and has been coupled with curved glass to protect its display. Sony is calling it a loop surface design to help users get a better grip on the device, but it really isn’t something glaringly different from what we’ve seen in the current crop of flagships out in the market.
The Sony Xperia XZ does, however, have an ace up in its sleeve with the ALKALEIDO metal on its back. It doesn’t just add to the premium feel of the device but the finish makes it really easy on the eyes when you look at it from different angles. It gives it a different sheen depending on the lighting conditions as well. The review unit we received is in Forest Blue and while under the lights at HQ it seems a tad darker, in direct sunlight it transforms into a lighter shade. We’re also surprised that the XZ isn’t the fingerprint magnet we thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean it won’t need a wipe down here and there either.
Button placement should be familiar to Xperia users with the right housing the home button that doubles up as the fast and accurate fingerprint scanner, the volume rocker, and dedicated camera button. On the left of the XZ, you’ll find the flap for the removable hybrid SIM trays; as mentioned above, you’ll either have to choose between another SIM card or a Micro SD card. Also, as a reminder, please make sure this is closed up tight to make sure water doesn’t seep into the device. Up on top if the 3.5mm jack, but on the bottom is a new addition to the Xperia line up — a USB Type-C port.
Water and Dust Resistance are Back!
Making a comeback to the Sony Xperia XZ is its IP68 certification for dust and water resistance. This is something that most of the Xperia Z devices had before the line was discontinued. We’ve already knocked over a glass of water and soaked the phone thoroughly, so we’re definitely glad to see it back on the X series flagship.
Brilliant Display for Everyday Use and Content Consumption
We’ve always thought that Sony’s Trilluminous display driven by their X-Reality Engine always made for a great display and it certainly isn’t any different on the Xperia XZ. If you watch a lot of YouTube videos or happen to watch a lot of movies on your device to pass time in traffic, then the 5.2-inch display on the XZ will not disappoint. If you ever find yourself without headphones, it’s also equipped with front firing speakers that sound great. These make the top and bottom bezels a little huge, but the trade off is worth it. We would have loved to see Quad HD resolution on the XZ given that most of its contemporaries sport displays with said resolution, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the XZ has a gorgeous display that has great viewing angles; even when outdoors.
Processing Package Falls a Little Short
Let’s not beat around the bush here. While the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 is definitely a powerful processor that can be found in most of the flagships from other brands, we feel a little shortchanged by the amount of RAM that the XZ has. You can definitely feel the difference of having 3GB of RAM if you happen to switch from app to app like we often do when we’re out in the field. This is probably why Sony has chosen not to push as many pixels with the display as well. While the XZ is more than capable than handling everyday tasks plus graphically intensive games, such as NBA 2K17, you do feel it bog down if you treat your phone like the miniature workstation it can be.
What we do like about the Sony Xperia XZ is that it pretty much runs on stock Android, which has recently gotten the Nougat update as well. It had a few apps pre-loaded, but they were easily uninstalled. If you do decide to keep them around, there’s enough internal storage to play around with before dispatching them becomes a must.
Capture Great Images Easily
One thing we absolutely love about the Xperia XZ is its camera. It’s 23-megapixel main shooter is equipped with PDAF, Laser Autofocus, and a RGBC-IR Sensor that made capturing great images a breeze. We hardly had to leave the Superior Auto Mode to get really amazing shots as these three image sensing technologies work in tandem to really get you the best shot possible in any given situation. Colors look great, details are sharp, and there isn’t much noise in low light shots either. The rear camera is also capable of shooting video up to 4K, but we highly suggest keeping it at Full HD for some pretty smooth, stable handheld shots. The 13-megapixel front camera is no slouch either and we’re more than happy with the selfies we’ve taken with the Xperia XZ.
Two Thumbs Up for Fast Charging!
The Sony Xperia XZ has a 2900mAh battery and if you’re a heavy user, you’re definitely going to need to bring a power bank with you all the time. We’ve seen the Xperia XZ give us the 30% warning at about mid-day when we’ve had to really use the Xperia XZ for back and forth email exchanges, phone calls, and to write a few articles on the go. What’s nice is the Stamina and Ultra Stamina modes the phone has that can really stretch out the remaining battery percentages in a pinch. You’ll have to sacrifice performance, but what good is a fast phone if it’s dead? If you’re low on juice, you’ll be happy to know that the Xperia XZ does support fast charging 3.0; meaning you won’t to have to hug a wall or be tethered to your power bank for too long. The Sony Xperia XZ has programs in place to help you prolong the lifespan of your battery too. If you decide to charge your phone overnight and intend to wake up at 6AM, it’ll stop charging the phone at 90% and top it up to 100% just before you wake up.
Verdict: A Flagship in a Tough Spot
We’ve been taking the Sony Xperia XZ as our daily driver for two weeks now and though we generally enjoyed our time with the device, it’s pretty hard to ignore its shortcomings. The fact that it only has 3GB of RAM makes all the difference in terms of performance for those seeking a powerhouse of a smartphone, which a flagship should be. On the other hand, one thing a lot of us look for these days is camera performance and the XZ definitely delivers in that regard. Sony charges a premium for their devices and at Php 37,990, the Japanese brand is definitely asking us to make a considerable dent in our bank accounts. This really puts the Sony Xperia XZ in a tough spot given all the competition it has nowadays from well-known brands and other brands that are slowly upping the ante. If your purse strings are loose and are looking for a phone with a great camera, we would still recommend that you give the Sony Xperia XZ a look despite its shortcomings. We would suggest going to one of Sony’s official stores where they’re most likely to have a demo unit on hand so you can take in all the pros and cons that the phone has to offer.