Sony Xperia XZ review: A turbo-charged, last-gen, flagship phone
Sony's newest new flagship is what it should have launched three months ago
- Great video camera
- HD wireless audio
- Last-gen phone
- Still too many blurry camera shots
- Battery struggles for one day
The XZ feels like a turbo-charged version of its last-generation phones. It's not svelte and pretty like other flagships. And a comparable S7 costs $250 less nowadays.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
Just over three months ago we slammed Sony’s latest flagship phone, the Xperia X Performance, for being one of the most disappointing products that Sony had made in years. It was such a mediocre effort (at a premium price) that even Sony’s own previous range outclassed it. No here’s the phone that should have launched then, the Sony Xperia XZ. How does it fare?
But first, despite a significant number of bad reviews for the X Performance, many people still bought one. However, we strongly suspect those people are going to have a WTF moment when they look at this and see it’s for sale for the same $999 price and that the model they recently bought has already dropped to around $750. At least their phones aren’t exploding.
As for nomenclature, Sony insists that the Z series of phones ended with the Z5 and Z5 Premium from last year. This XZ is still part of the X Series even though the XZ looks more like the old Z models. Clear? Good…
5.2in, 1080 x 1920, 424ppi IPS LCD display; 3,32GB RAM; Snapdragon 820 CPU plus Adreno 530 GPU, 23MP/13MP cameras, Android 6.0.1, 2,900mAh battery, Fingerprint reader, NanoSIM, MicroSD card slot, 146 x 72 x 8mm, 161g. Full specs here.
Design and Handling
We’re quite fond of the dark blue variant of the XZ but that’s partly because the black one doesn’t look particularly notable. Sony calls the shape it’s “loop” design which is a way of ignoring that it’s boxy with lightly-rounded corners. The screen is only 5.2-inches which is surprising thanks to the elongated chassis and the relatively-large bezels at the top and bottom. It’s not a small phone and doesn’t feel like it but it sits comfortably in the hand and isn't particularly slippery. All in all, it is a bit chunky though.
The SIM card slot (shared with microSD) sits at the top left of the chassis and doesn’t require a pin to open. On the right, the power button-cum-fingerprint reader sits half way down the chassis and below that is the volume rocker and below that a camera shutter button (useful if you’re shooting underwater). A USB-C charging port sits at the bottom and a headphone jack resides at the top.
The screen looks very colourful for an LCD-unit. It’s got a full HD resolution and the high pixel count makes it look very detailed – it’s even impressive when being used for VR as the screen-door effect is minimized.
The Snapdragon 820 processor has been around for a while now and still ensures that even the latest apps tick along nicely. There’s very little lag visible here. The Android OS is the latest version and while Sony has continued to keep its old bloatware away from you, it does throw out some useful tips and tricks when you use features for the first time.
We’re not fans of having the fingerprint reader at the bottom of the screen (we prefer it on the back), but Sony’s unique design of having it on the side also works well – it’s fast and generally accurate although sometimes it would throw some kind of tantrum and either refuse to unlock without a pattern being entered or tell us that we’d failed too many times already - just from holding it. This is only minor though.
We did have some issues, however. While Sony notes that it’s antennae are housed above and below the screen for greater effect, we found that it frequently held both a weaker 4G and WiFi signal that any other phone we’ve tested this year.
This wasn’t a deal breaker, but in some locations in our house, we literally couldn’t connect to the internet and that shouldn’t be happening.
Furthermore, the NFC chip is once again at the top of the screen to the front left. This means you can't see the screen when you tap (and subsequently follow any instructions) which is a design flaw that Sony has acknowledged but evidently not yet fixed.Read more: Sony Xperia X Performance review: Sony’s most disappointing product in years
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HP Pavilion x360 13”
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Surface Pro 4
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung unveils Bixby voice assistant for upcoming Galaxy S8
- BlackBerry readies a more secure version of the Samsung Galaxy S7
- Android device updates: Nougat rollout begins for the Moto Z Play
- Android device updates: Nougat is coming to the Moto G4, G4 Plus
- Beyond smartphones, Samsung wants its Exynos 9 chip in VR headsets
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- LG 2017 OLED and Super LED UHD 4K TVs: Hands-on review
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTApplication Support Consultant (Oracle SQL, Unix scripting)NSW
- FTJunior Applications SupportACT
- FTNetwork Infrastructure Development EngineerNSW
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)ACT
- FTTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- TPJunior Software DeveloperQLD
- CCInfrastructure Business AnalystACT
- FTSCOM Monitoring and Alerting SpecialistNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCIT Project Scheduler- Port MacquarieQLD
- TPSenior Node.JS DeveloperNSW
- FTAssociate Consultant - IT Project ServicesVIC
- FTSenior Network Specialist - Internet Edge DatacentreVIC
- FTKey Account ManagerVIC
- TPTechnical ManagerNSW
- TPTest AnalystNSW
- FTJunior Applications SupportQLD
- FTField Hardware Deployment EngineerNSW
- TPTechnical Analyst - 6 Month Contract - Great Rates Of PayNSW
- FTLinux / Unix Systems AdministratorSA
- TPJunior Business AnlystVIC
- FTMarketing Specialist (B2B Sales)NSW
- FTSAP Payroll and Time ConsultantVIC
- FTSenior Change Readiness ManagerNSW