iTWire had a private briefing with John Featherstone, managing director of Sony Mobile Communications, Oceania, and a close look at the new Xperia XZ – its new flagship model that sits above the Xperia X Performance (iTWire review here).
In my Xperia X Performance review I said it was a good flagship that could be even better given the basic hardware ingredients are there, but it lacked that je ne sais quois. Software and firmware updates will make a difference (it was an early review sample).
So starting from that base, Featherstone made sure to point out the evolution and revolution from the older Z series and the newer X Performance. They come down to camera, battery and design.
What follows is not a full review, but rather observations based on first looks.
Sony says it builds on a long tradition. Its camera is better, the phone’s battery life is better (due to Smart Assist and Sony’s new Qnovo charging), and it has Sony's superior quality – built in a Sony owned factory ensuring Sony’s brand, quality and pride is firmly stamped on each handset.
Telstra is the sole Telco launch partner for the XZ and has plans from $80 to $195 per month depending on data and free SMS/Calls. It is also including a set of Sony’s noise-cancelling “buds” valued at $79.95 that really do work. Details here.
The phone has a recommended price of $999 from JB Hi-Fi and Sony online store.
So what do you get?
Sony Xperia XF, model F8331
- Screen: 5.2”; 1920 x 1080; 424ppi; Triluminous; IPS display, Gorilla Glass;
- 70.9% screen to body ratio (there are largish bars top and bottom);
- Qualcomm, quad-core, 820 – 2 x 2.15GHz and 2 x 1.6GHz;
- 3GB RAM; 32GB; micro-SD slot up to 256GB;
- Rear camera: 23MP; f/2.0; IMX300; predictive hybrid laser/phase-detection/contrast autofocus; digital image stabilisation (X and Y direction and yaw, pitch, and roll shake); HDR; RGBC-IR white balance sensor; single LED flash; 4K record; hardware shutter key;
- Front camera: 13MP; f/2.0; HD record;
- Wi-Fi AC dual band, 2 x 2 MIMO; Bluetooth 4.2 LE - A2DP, aptX; Hi-Res audio; NFC; fingerprint reader; 3.5mm audio; ANC mic; stereo speakers;
- LTE Cat 9 450/50Mbps (not sure of number of bands – assume most);
- 2900mAh battery; Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 charger); Qnovo battery care; 72-hour endurance rating; Stamina and Ultra Stamina modes; USB-C (older USB 2.0 spec lacking Thunderbolt);
- Android 6.x – update to 7.x soon. Sony’s UX is a light touch over stock Android with most mods supplied as apps;
- IP65/68 rating – dust and water resistant, not water proof;
- 46 x 72 x 8.1mm x 161g ALKALEIDO alloy construction;
- Colours: Mineral Black, Forest Blue;
- PS4 Dual Shock controller connectivity and PS4 remote play; and
- Sony Assist – a machine learning app that monitors how you use it over a four-week period and adjusts parameters accordingly.
To position this – where the X Performance was below the Samsung GS7 or LG G5, this is up there with the best. In theory, it should have a superior camera although it is missing the higher res GS7 AMOLED or G5 IPS screens. Its IPS LCD is not a deal breaker in any way.
This will be reviewed over the coming weeks. As Featherstone said, “You can’t really appreciate the phone unless you are Xperienced.”