The X(Z) Factor

Sony Xperia XZ.

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Sony Xperia XZ.
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Sony fans that have been waiting for a true flagship smartphone to arrive – your wait is now over. The Xperia XZ packs a flagship-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, with water resistance protection rated at IP65/68. It also packs a slightly upgraded camera sensor array called Triple Image Sensing, which we will delve into, later.

First, the Sony Xperia XZ doesn’t stray very far from their OmniBalance design language. After all, it is the flagship version of the Xperia X, so we’d describe the Xperia XZ with the same terms: monolithic, angular, and minimalistic. What’s nice and new, however, is the use of ALKALEIDO metal for that sleek machined look on its rear. While it’s similar, the design is not identical to the Xperia X. The XZ’s gaps are less obvious and the sides levels off at the display. This, in turn, give it a nearseamless, slightly curved look, which Sony calls the Loop Surface. The shine on the metal matches the glare from the glass, which contributes to its overall uniform look.

While it boils down to personal preference, the Xperia XZ feels more polished than its base model. The physical camera button is in the same lower-right corner, adjacent to the volume rocker. The silver power button along the right side still doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The one key difference between this 5.2-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution) phone and the Xperia X is the use of a USB Type-C port, a standard many devices are slowly migrating to.

Water protection returns to the Xperia family, and the Xperia XZ features IP65/68 rated protection. When we asked Sony why the phone has two ratings, they referred us to the water resistance chart on their website, after explaining that this IP rating covers different water-protection standards. While oddly specific on Sony’s part, the phone is sufficiently protected for regular use.

The Sony Xperia XZ packs a flagship Snapdragon 820 SoC, helped along with its Adreno 530 graphics processor. It comes with 3GB RAM and 64GB internal storage that’s expandable via microSD card up to 256GB. Web surfing was smooth, and our tests led us to conclude that Xperia XZ has pretty good performance for a flagship smartphone. The XZ managed to pull impressive numbers for their graphical benchmark – it had a 3Dmark IceStorm Unlimited score of 29,921, while the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge was pulling in at 28,595. Our real-world experience with the phone was also like its numbers: awesome. 

The 23-megapixel rear camera on the XZ
comprises not one, but three sensors, for faster,
more accurate pictures.
The 23-megapixel rear camera on the XZ comprises not one, but three sensors, for faster, more accurate pictures.

The rear camera uses a 23-megapixel, 1/ 2.3-inch Exmor RS sensor that relies on Sony’s BIONZ mobile image processing engine. It’s paired with a 24mm Sony G lens, going up to ISO 12,800. What’s truly new is its Triple Image Sensing technology. The rear camera now comprises of three sensors – an imaging sensor that predicts subject movement, a Laser AF sensor for speed and accuracy, and a RGBCIR sensor that measures visible colors and infra-red information for a better grasp on white balancing. As such, the Xperia XZ is one of the sharpest shooters we’ve met thus far, with a better handle on noise as compared to the Xperia X. Color-wise, it has strong blacks, and adopts a slightly more natural tone at the cost of vibrancy. 

The Sony Xperia XZ packs a 2,900mAh battery, aided by Qnovo’s Adaptive Charging technology for battery longevity. It also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. Unfortunately, the phone lasted a mere 380 minutes in our tests, putting it on the lower end of the flagship spectrum; the lowest being the LG G5’s 330 minutes. 

The use of ALKALEIDO metal give off  a sleek 
machined look on the Xperia XZ’s rear,
accentuated by a minimalistic design.
The use of ALKALEIDO metal give off a sleek machined look on the Xperia XZ’s rear, accentuated by a minimalistic design.


DISPLAY 5.2-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution) IPS LCD.

PROCESSOR Qualcomm Snapdragon 820.

WEIGHT 161g.

DIMENSIONS 146 x 72 x 8.1mm.

PRICE $998.


A flagship product that leans towards functionality over novelty, topped off with a pretty good camera.

Overall, Sony isn’t trying to fix anything that isn’t broken. What you’re getting from the Xperia XZ aren’t novel features, and even physical changes are minimal. It’s clear that Sony leans towards functionality, but we can’t ignore a tired design and the lack of exciting innovation. That said, the Sony Xperia XZ is indeed capable of competing at the flagship level it intends with other top-tier rivals. Even its $998 price tag seems pretty much par for the course within its tier. If anything, Hardware it’s definitely one of the stronger options if you want a good Android smartphone with a focus on camera performance.