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Sony Xperia XZ Premium hands-on Closer Look

Sony Xperia XZ Premium hands-on Closer Look,MWC 2017: Hands-On With Sony's Smarter Xperia,Sony Xperia XZ Premium hands-on

Introduction

MWC is an information overload galore. Now that we’ve covered the main announcements and we have them out the gate, we spent some extra time with one of the stars of the show – the Xperia XZ Premium Sony Xperia XZ Premium hands-on Closer Look.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium hands-on Closer Look

Our initial reaction was that this phone would rise or fall based on two things – its screen and its camera. We were super excited by seeing the first phone with Snapdragon 835, but we weren’t allowed to test that so that performance will be out of the focus of this article.

The 4K HDR mobile screen is the first of its kind. To be clear, this is not the first 4K screen (that honor goes to the Xperia Z5 Premium). It is not the first HDR screen either (that was, briefly, the Note7). It’s the combination of the two that is novel. HDR content, however, is still hard to come by unless you use the subscription-based video streaming services by Netflix or Amazon. Even then, you have to keep an eye on the supported standards because as things stand right now, there are two competing HDR video standards – HDR 10 and Dolby Vision – and the XZ Premium only supports the former.

The Motion Eye camera with 960fps slow-mo video is another first of its kind. There’s nothing on a phone that comes close to it (most top out at 240fps), and its other tricks are similarly unique – namely photos free of rolling shutter and predictive capture.

Unfortunately the final answers will have to wait for a final unit. Any tests we run on this pre-production unit may not hold for the release hardware (and software!). So we’ll leave the tests for later. For now we’ll focus on our first impressions instead.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium at a glance

  • Body: Glass Loop Surface (Gorilla Glass 5), IP68 waterproofing
  • Screen: 5.5″ Triluminos display, 4K resolution (2,160 x 3,840px), HDR
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 835 running Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Camera: 19MP Motion Eye camera (1/2.3″ Exmor RS, f/2.0); SteadyShot, Anti-distortion shutter, predictive capture
  • Video: 4K video recording, 720p @ 960fps slow-mo
  • Selfie: 13MP (1/3.06″ Exmor RS, f/2.0)
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB on-board storage, microSD slot
  • Connectivity: 1Gbps LTE, USB-C
  • Battery: 3,230mAh, QuickCharge 3.0, Qnovo adaptive charging
  • Fingerprint reader: Market dependent
  • Audio: Stereo speakers, High-resolution audio

If you are curious, here’s how the Sony Xperia XZ Premium looks next to the Z5 Premium. The Z5 edition promised a lot of novelty as well (like the first 4K mobile screen), but it failed to make ripples in the pond that we’re calling the mobile industry. It didn’t even get a successor for quite a while but that changes today.

Mwc 2017 Sony Second reviewSony Xperia Z5 Premium (left) • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (right)

Join us on the next page as we take a closer look at the Xperia XZ Premium.

 

The body

Yes, we said “screen and camera” but we can’t overlook their packaging. To its credit, Sony delivered on the Xperia flagship legacy. The phone is waterproof (IP68), it comes with the latest Gorilla Glass (5th gen), and it has S-Force Front Surround (aka stereo speakers).

Still, the unofficial motto of the 2017 Mobile World Congress was “bezels be gone.” Even Sony’s own Xperia XA1 duo boasts a “borderless edge-to-edge screen.” And yet the XZ Premium has bezels in spades. It’s even slightly bigger than its very own predecessor – the Z5 Premium.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium hands-onSony Xperia Z5 Premium (left) • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (right)

What the LG G6 shed in bezels, the Sony gained. The upcoming Galaxy S8 similarly wages war on bezels, but not the Sony. Its top and bottom bezels are of iPhone Plus proportions, its side bezels – similarly ample. Even the old Z5 Premium was smaller in all directions, lighter and yet with a bigger battery.

We don’t think that Sony going against the grain here will be a boon for the Xperia XZ Premium.

The mirror finish of the Luminous Chrome color option (the one we got) is far from a practical choice. It’s impossible to keep clean, but it does look cool – when viewed from a distance. This one is a show pony, not a work horse.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium hands-on

More objectionable is the choice to chrome the front bezels too – on the Z5 Premium Sony had the decency to keep the front black. The mirrored front on the XZ model reflects all your surroundings, which can be quite distracting. It pulls attention away from the screen, something we couldn’t get used to in our short experience of handling the phone.

When Sony announced that the phone uses a “Glass Loop Surface”, we thought that the glass wraps around the entire phone – even on the sides. The reality is much more standard than that – what they were referring to is the design approach where the front glass seamlessly transitions to the metal sides and onto the glass on the back. There’s a loop, but it’s not a glass loop of any kind – the front and back glass panels are straight and not curved in any way. The loop is formed by the metal sides.

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