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.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P30 Pro review: A photography powerhouse that leans into and elevates its natural strengths
- 2 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 3 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Ring Video Doorbell review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung launches new Galaxy A smartphones in Australia
- McAfee Labs says fileless cyberattacks are on the rise in 2018
- Vulnerabilities found in Samsung SmartThings Hub
- Sharp renews Huddle Board offering
- Australian Networking Infrastructure Market Takes off in 2018
PCW Evaluation Team
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
- Google Pixel 3a review: Less is more
- Huawei P30 Pro: Australian review
- Samsung Galaxy S10 review: Messy decisions mar smart evolutions
- 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