Sony Xperia XZ1 review – Try harder please Sony

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My kingdom for a good smartphone from Sony that doesn’t cost the same as a small boat.

Okay so maybe boats are more expensive than I realise but given the choice I would forego the latest smartphone from Sony and spend it on a beach holiday.

Had Sony released the XZ1 (which feels like a follow up to last year’s XZ) in a vacuum or a year that didn’t see the likes of the Nokia 8, the Samsung S8, the iPhone 8, perhaps it would have been in with a fighting chance.

But that is not the case and the XZ1 is a confusing piece of kit.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review – The lines are drawn

Inside the XZ1 is rocking a Snapdragon 835 chipset configured with an octacore processor running at 1.9GHz and an Adreno 540 GPU. This is paired with 4GB of RAM.

Standard servings for a flagship smartphone in 2017 but the XZ1’s performance is well below the competition. Simply put it’s a flagship with mid-tier performance.

The XZ1 crashes for seemingly no reason. It’s happened to me while watching videos on YouTube, sending texts on WhatsApp and I’ve even had the Phone and Message apps stop working.

Yes you read correctly, the Phone and Message apps, the most basic apps a smartphone should be able to run have crashed more than once.

While the handset boots up speedily enough there has been more than one occasion where I’ve had to wait for an app to load up.

This is a brand new handset that was formatted before it was handed to me. Not a good sign.

The fingerprint scanner is also terrible, just like it was in the XZ Premium.

The Nokia 8 which costs less and has similar specs in a sexier body has a better fingerprint scanner than this handset. Why Sony? Why do you give users a sliver of a button to capture fingerprints. Stop it.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review – A camera or rather a smudge capture device

There is something very wrong with this handset. While the XZ Premium had a decent camera, hell even the XZ did this camera is, well it’s terrible to be frank.

In full daylight images are decent but hardly great. When it gets dark the XZ1 really struggles. Images look grainy, blacks are not nearly as deep as they should be and the whole thing feels like its being parsed through a really terrible algorithm.

Video recording options are limited to Full HD at 30 or 60 frames per second and UHD recording.

Sony’s Super Slo Motion recording is also available and it performs well but the image quality is heavily dependent on the ambient lighting around you.

Our gallery of snaps follows on below.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review – The battery is good at least

I cannot fault the XZ1 on its battery life. With the screen set to 50% brightness, headphones plugged in and Wifi, mobile data and Bluetooth switched off you can expect roughly 8 hours of battery life.

During average use (i.e. using the handset as your daily communication tool) with the screen brightness set to 100%, Wifi switched on, Bluetooth on and mobile data switched on you can expect the XZ1 to get you through one and a half work days.

Thanks to fast charging the battery also gets back up to 100% charge in just over an hour.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review – Conclusion

Even if you are an ardent Sony fan the XZ1 is going to leave you disappointed.

The performance is poor compared to other phones in this price range and visually it doesn’t even come close to the slick lines of manufacturers like Samsung and Apple.

In low-light the images you snap from the rear camera leave a lot to be desired and a terrible fingerprint scanner adds to the woes.

The only thing that really saves the XZ1 is its battery and that is hardly worth of a recommendation.

Instead of the XZ1 consider something else that is cheaper or has more features and costs you a bit more.

Disclaimer: A Sony Xperia XZ1 review unit was provided by the firm’s local representation. It goes back now.

[su_box title=”Specifications” box_color=”#f37021″]

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

Display 5.2inch Full HD (1080 x 1920)

Graphics Adreno 540

Memory 4GB

Storage 64GB (microSD up to 256GB)

Connectivity LTE, up to 802.11ac Wifi, Bluetooth 5.0

Security Biometrics (fingerprint)

Ports USB Type C 3.1, 3.5mm jack

Battery 2 700mAh

Price R12 599


Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.