Sony Xperia XZ: Tech review
Sony's new flagship falls a bit short
Our technology editor reviews the Sony Xperia XZ.
Price: €700 (sim free) Compare prices
Rating: 3 Stars
Sony's Xperia XZ is a flagship phone that feels a little short of a must-have feature to lure you away from the temptation of an iPhone or a Samsung S7. Don't get me wrong: it's a very good, impressive handset with a great camera. Its casing is also nicely designed with some subtle touches. After 10 days of using it, I like it, but can't really find something that would make me recommend it over its elite, top-end rivals.
Still, let's start with the positives.
The 23-megapixel camera on XZ is excellent and, in my view, the phone's strongest point. It gives terrific detail and resolution to photos. Its selfie-camera also beats most rivals, at 13 megapixels. If there's one qualification, it's that some may find the main 23-megapixel lens too 'wide': there is some distortion of objects at the edges. (Of course, the advantage to a very wide lens is that you get more into a photo when you shoot at close range.) The camera can also film in 4k 'ultra' high definition.
The phone's HD screen is nice and bright and compares well with its rivals.
As is the case with other Xperia phones, the fingerprint reader is now on the power button at the side of the device, a position I think is more natural than the rear (where some other Android phones position it).
It's also almost waterproof. And not just water: I accidentally spilled half a cup of hot chocolate over it last Saturday and it simply wiped off with no ill effects. Finally, it supports 'high resolution audio', which means if you have the right headphones and subscribe to Tidal or one of the higher bitrate music services, you'll hear clearer audio.
The Xperia XZ has moved to USB-C as its power and connector interface: most phones are heading this way. As for its (2,900mAh) battery life, I found it adequate: it neither leads nor lags rivals with around a day's usage.
Sony could do with tidying up its Android overlay: it feels unchanged in a couple of years. It would also be nice if it ditched some of the bloatware apps it comes loaded with (which is normally the hallmark of a much cheaper phone).
The Xperia XZ feels like an evolution of the company's last flagship device, the Z5. But the top end of the phone market is ultra-competitive now, with hungry chasers such as Huawei and OnePlus. This steady-as-she-goes iteration may not be enough of an improvement to keep Sony's top phone in the ranks of the elite.