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Sony Xperia XZ (S$998) Review: A Waterproof Flagship

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

Bigger is not always better. In response to the increasing sizes of smartphones today, Sony has decided to keep its flagship, the Xperia XZ’s screen size to 5.2″ and the XZ returns with a similar design to its predecessors in the Xperia X series, but packs on a tonne of firepower in its state-of-the-art cameras. This waterproof S$998 flagship is Sony’s challenge to the Samsung and Apple flagships already in the market, however, will this sub S$1000 fighter fare well in reality? Let’s take a look.

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

Pros

  • Cheaper than other flagships
  • Waterproof rating that’s better than the iPhone 7 or the Samsung S7
  • Superb camera that holds a special shutter button

Cons

  • Processing speed is sub-par compared to other flagships
  • Overheats too easily
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

Specifications

Processor: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 3GB | GPU: Adreno 530 | Internal Memory: 64GB

Screen Size: 5.2” | Thickness: 8.1mm | Weight: 161g

Rear Camera: 23MP f/2.0 | Front Camera: 13MP f/2.0

Design

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

The XZ doesn’t look much different from the Xperia X and isn’t very striking in its appearance.

The humble 5.2” fighter is a boxy little phone like the Xperia X, however the sides have been curved in slightly to allow for a less masculine feel. The top and bottom of the phone however, still remains edgy and flattened out, which lets you prop the phone up easily without assistance.

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

Thanks to its 5.2” screen, manipulating it single-handedly is easy. The small build of the XZ lets you text with one hand and carry something else in the other without worrying if you might drop the device trying to reach the edge of the screen. It’s also quite comfy to grip your XZ since the lengths are rounded-off and the rear plate of the Xperia XZ has been replaced with ALKALEIDO metal that has a cool chromish feel towards it.

The lock button, holding the fingerprint sensor is also located on the side of the phone instead of being at the rear or on the home button.  This means that you can probably only unlock it with your right thumb, which may be annoying for lefties.

The hybrid dual-SIM trays(nano) are pull-out trays, so you don’t require a pin to pull out the tray to swap SIM cards or put in a microSD card.

The Xperia XZ has a headphone jack, and a USB Type-C port instead of the usual USB Type-B port. Not too many phones use the next-gen Type-C port now, so do remember to bring along your own cable since you can’t tap on your friend’s cables when leeching off their powerbank.

Waterproof

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

Sony labels the XZ as only “water-resistant”. In reality, the XZ has an IP68 waterproof rating, making it a better diver than your iPhone 7.

The IP68 rating means the XZ can be submerged up to 1.5 metres for as long as 30 minutes. I have never left the phone in for such a long duration, but I did shoot underwater videos in a pool, which came off crystal clear.

Camera

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

The camera is perhaps the Xperia XZ’s strongest suit. The XZ is house to a 23MP rear shooter armed with a 5-axis optical image stabilising technology. This next-gen stabilising tech is one notch above shooters like the ZenFone 3 and the Mi 5 that only hold a 4-axis OIS. Hence, your shots will be much more stable and less blurry, even if you have the hands of a toddler. Videos shot will also appear more film-like and less jerky as well.

Details on the XZ’s pictures are great. The high-res photos are clear even when zoomed in thanks to its high megapixels and colours come off rather vibrant but well-reproduced on the XZ too.

If you love shooting moving objects, you will love the XZ’s camera. Object tracking is cool feature the XZ has. Instead of only tapping to focus on a point, the XZ lets you tap on the screen and focus on an object which lets the smartphone recognise it as your subject. What this means is that even if your object is moving around, the camera can still focus easily on it as your priority. 

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

The front camera with 13MP is also a great shooter with several nifty features to make selfie-shooting a breeze. For instance, you can raise you open palm at a camera and it will automatically take a selfie for you without you having to touch the device at all and the shots taken accentuate your facial features well, rivalling other dedicated selfie phones like the Oppo R9.

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

Performance

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

Holding the latest Snapdragon 820 processor alongside a 3GB RAM, the Xperia XZ should be quite a decent performer. With an AnTuTu benchmark rating of 102,788, it still pales in comparison to the Samsung S7 Edge’s 134,599. Bear in mind that the S7 Edge is much more expensive than the Xperia XZ though.

Multitasking should be a walk in the park for the XZ, with no lags when you run normal applications like Google Docs, WhatsApp and Facebook. However, these lags became noticeable when I ran intensie programmes like PicsArt, alongside other video editing programmes. This was quite the disappointment to me and I expected flagships to handle themselves better than this.

The phone doesn’t really keep its cool well. It heats up rather intensely when you stress it with more hardcore applications. It quite literally turns into a hot plate that’s uncomfortable to place on bare skin at times.

Battery Life

The 2,900mAh cell lasted me a usual work day of around 8-10 hours. This seems to be fairly average, but to be safe, I would definitely bring along a portable battery if I’m bringing the device out from morning till night.

Verdict

Taken by Zayne Seah
Taken by Zayne Seah

I liked the Xperia XZ . Shooting on the go with this compact device was a pleasant experience. Performance and battery life on the Xperia XZ could most definitely be improved upon though, and the overheating issue isn’t something I enjoyed. It’s a solid addition to the Xperia series, but the hefty S$998 might be quite the deterrent when there are more cost-efficient devices out there.


About the Autv-modahor

A Dentist-To-Be Dabbling in Tech Journalism:

Zayne is a writer who reports for VR-Zone, Stuff Singapore and The New Paper on all things tech-related. Follow this geek on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

Zayne Seah
A tech geek going beyond specs.

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