Since Sony bought Ericsson’s stake in Sony Ericsson in 2011, the company’s Android handsets have improved significantly, with the new Xperia Z1 the most accomplished to date.
Unveiled at this week’s IFA tech show in Berlin, Sony’s new flagship Android handset has a lot going for it: it’s fully waterproof, comes with a gargantuan 20.7 megapixel camera, featuring Sony’s award winning ‘G Lens’, and has a stunning 1080p full HD screen utilising Sony’s Triliminos display technology.
As far as high-end phone specs go it’s very much on the money, the main headline takeaway is, of course, the 20.7 megapixel camera, which uses Sony’s ‘G Lens’ which has been designed to take clear and colourful photographs. Whilst the camera might be overkill for a phone it does includes a F2.0 Sony G Lens with a 27mm wide angle and a 3x zoom, which Sony’s boss Ken Hirai stated offers “zero loss of quality.”
The camera also comes with a host of new applications and social features including the ability to share videos in real-time with Facebook.
Looks-wise the Xperia Z1 takes a lot of design cues from its cousin, the Xperia Z, this time, however, it is made up from a one-piece aluminum frame that is finished in black, white, or purple. The front and rear of the handset is finished with glass giving it a sturdy, premium feel – something lacking with a lot of other Android handsets. Overall the handset is slightly thicker, longer and heavier than a Samsung S4, but for the extra horsepower and features you’re getting it’s certainly not a deal breaker.
Measuring 5-inches the new Xperia Z1 features a super-snappy quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, running at an impressive 2.2 GHz alongside 2 GB of RAM. There’s 16 GB of onboard storage and the ability to upgrade via SD to 64GB, are you listening HTC? The handset is also 4G LTE compatible meaning it’s perfect for anyone who is planning to join one of the new super-fast 4G networks.
Elsewhere Sony has bestowed the handset with a capacious 3000 mAh battery, and has also added BatterySTAMINA Mode that automatically turns off certain functions to save juice when you’re not using them and restarts them when you do.
At 170gram it’s light enough without ever feeling too flimsy, and the stunning 1080p ‘Triluminous’ display certainly makes any pictures or videos taken on the camera stand out with deep blacks and eye-piercing colours.
One of the major bugbears with many Android handsets is the manufacturers need to fill their handsets with unnecessary bloatware and changed to the user interface. Thankfully, Sony’s changes to Android 4.2.2 don’t seem too overbearing from first impressions and to the untrained eye you’d be hard pressed to notice them.
In a similar vein to the Xperia Z, the Z1 is fully waterproof so you can dunk the handset in 1.5 metres of water for an impressive 30 minutes. This time, however, Sony has made Z1’s headphone jack waterproof itself, meaning you don’t need to undo the flap every time you want to listen to music – which is a clever revision to this year’s version.
Overall Sony’s Xperia Z1 is an accomplished handset with some significant features that other handsets just don’t offer. If you’re the type of person that spends a lot of time outdoors and requires a sturdy waterproof handset with a killer specs list, and best in-class camera, then the Xperia Z1 is a no-brainer.
The guys over at IT Portal pointed out that the Xperia Z1’s spec sheet is “exactly where it needs to be at the premium end of the smartphone scale, replete with a stunning 5in Full HD screen, a powerful 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm, and a 20.7-megapixel camera which leverages Sony’s famed digital imaging technology.”
Meanwhile in their hands-on, the Independent said:
“At first glance, it’s very similar to the Xperia Z, though a touch bigger in every direction – which is worrying as the Z was quite big enough, thank you. The same design language is evident here: glass front and back, matte frame and engraved power button gleaming on the side.”
In relation to its waterproof nature, the team at Cnet wrote:
“If you’ve destroyed a phone by dropping it in the toilet — or by making calls in the rain — the Z1 might be the phone for you. It keeps water out by sealing its ports with smaller flaps. While the Xperia Z placed a flap over the headphone jack, the Z1 has simply made the jack itself waterproof, meaning you don’t need to undo it every time you want to plug your headphones in.”
Price and availability of the Xperia Z1 has yet to be announced.