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Sony Xperia Z1 Preview

Posted: , by Ray S.

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Our Sony Xperia Z1 Review is now published - click here to read it.

Sony Xperia Z1 Preview

Introduction


Sony introduced its Xperia Z flagship in the beginning of the year, and while the smartphone had a lot going for it, it was still somewhat rough around the edges. It had fancy front and back panels made of glass, but boring, rubbery sides; the screen was large and had a high resolution, but its gamma and viewing angles were lacking; the camera was 13 MP and featured the promising Exmor RS sensor, but the quality of the pictures was so-so.

With so much to fix, Sony hasn't even waited until next year to introduce its new top model. Instead, the company is already gearing up to release its new flagship – the Xperia Z1. As we can all see right away, the Xperia Z1 is like a heavily upgraded version of its predecessor. It feels quite familiar, yet substantially improved in pretty much every area. By the looks of it, Sony has done more than enough in order to bring those elements where the Z was lacking to the necessary premium level.

Design


Sony Xperia Z1 Preview
Sony Xperia Z1 Preview
Sony Xperia Z1 Preview
Sony Xperia Z1 Preview
The Sony Xperia Z1 has almost the same external design as its predecessor, except... it now features a nice metal frame around the sides, replacing the bland rubber material used by the Z. The phone's design looks much more complete now, and the feeling you get when you have the Xperia Z1 in your hands is that of working with a very high-quality piece of machinery. The front and rear panels are still made of flat, tempered glass, reminding us of the iPhone 4/4s design language.

The Xperia Z1 is a beautiful phone and we commend Sony for coming up with this design. It beats Samsung's offerings (in the design department) and can go toe to toe with almost any other high-end smartphone in the industry.

As we said, in-hand feel is just the way it should be – awesome, but we do have a relatively big issue in this regard and it has to do with the size of the Z1. With substantial bezels left around the display, the Xperia Z1 takes quite a bit of room (5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches) in your palm. It's definitely bulkier than Samsung's Galaxy S4 (which measures 5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches), or HTC's One (5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches), or even LG's G2 (5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches). Still, we do like the classy, rectangular shape of the Z1.

Sony's new device is also heavier than most other competitors. It weighs 6.00 oz (170 g), compared to the Samsung Galaxy S4's 4.59 oz (130 g), the HTC One's 5.04 oz (143 g), and LG G2's 5.04 oz (143 g). Wow, the Xperia Z1 is truly one weighty smartphone, but that's not necessarily such a big issue, as it makes it feel even more solid and high-end.

You can find a bunch of things around the sides of the Xperia Z1. Of course, we get the new circular power button on the right hand side, which doesn't feel particularly bad, but isn't great either. The volume rocker that's positioned slightly below is a similar affair, as it works fine, but is kind of small to be considered really comfortable to use. Finally, we get the tiny camera shutter key near the lower end of the right hand side, and almost surprisingly, this one is actually great. The button is very easy to press, and the its two steps (for autofocus and actual picture taking) are very well defined. Even though our unit doesn't have the retail software yet, we've been ensured that the hardware design is final, so our observations here should be valid for the retail units of the Xperia Z1.

The Micro SIM card slot and microSD card slot, as well as the microUSB port are all hidden under protective flaps, which don't cause any trouble. What's more, they are designed in such a way so as to kind of blend in with the rest of the surface of the sides.


Display


Sony Xperia Z1 Preview
The Xperia Z1 is making full use of Sony's so-called Triluminos screen technology, and the improvement in image quality since the Xperia Z is obvious. With its decent characteristics, the 5" 1080p display of the Z1 may not be a state-of-the-art IPS LCD panel, but it is very good looking. As with any other 5" 1080p screen, the pixel density is incredibly high at 441 ppi.

We won't comment on the quality of the screen right now, with regards to things such as color balance and even brightness, because the software of our unit isn't final and these aspects of the handset may change by the time it launches officially on the market.

The Xperia Z1 supports the so-called X-Reality image enhancement technology, which attempts to boost the quality of photos and video viewed on the phone. Indeed, media that's displayed on the Z1's screen using the X-Reality engine looks very cool. For the most part, there's not rocket-science involved with X-Reality, as it tweaks things such as the contrast of the image, the sharpness, colors and other similar stuff, in order to come up with a more impressive picture.

86 Comments
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posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:13 12

1. tech2 (Posts: 2443; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


TBH, I had really high expectations for this phone but the size and display are a bit of a let down IMO :(

Design and camera are pretty good though !

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:26 4

11. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


What happen with the display?

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:51 10

26. tech2 (Posts: 2443; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Actually, I was expecting Triluminous display would be a killer but clearly is not. Its a lot better than Xperia Z but no where near the competition:

h ttp://ww w.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu5H4U4A8U8

htt p://w ww.youtube.com/watch?v=tOhf5aagbDY

(remove spaces)

...and that doesn't even include the best display on the market.... LG G2.

Unless, as Ray S, mentions the display is improved via the final updates, the display is bit of a bummer :(

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:38 14

37. timaustin2000 (Posts: 35; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


With respect, I disagree on the screen being a disappointment - it seems to be a very, very good screen indeed, especially when compared to Samsung AMOLED. I've seen a couple of videos comparing this screen to the S4 - head on, the colour gamut, brightness and detail are superior on the Z1.

If you're going to base views on viewing angles alone then you're missing a bigger picture.

I will, however, be first to admit that the G2 and HTC One have better screens,.... but that doesn't make this one somehow automatically terrible.

Perspective, please. :)

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:50 5

43. tech2 (Posts: 2443; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


If you read my comment I clearly wrote its better than its predecessor but not better than competition.

I don't know if you watched the video or not but the colours on Z1 appears to be washed out when compared to GS4 and I don't really care about the viewing angles though.

I think its a personal preference that you like LCD panels more than AMOLED but we have to agree that its not as amazing as the hype created by Sony of the Triluminous display.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:04 15

50. timaustin2000 (Posts: 35; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


Washed out compared to AMOLED? Well of course. AMOLED colours are overblown and un-natural. The Z1, like most LCDs, produces a more realistic image.

Sony never claimed that Triluminous tech was there to create eye-searing colours: it claims to be able to re-create accurate colours. That's a big difference.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:26 8

54. tech2 (Posts: 2443; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Your argument would've been correct until last year but GS4 delivers excellent colour accuracy.

The Galaxy S4 delivers the closest Color and White Point calibration to the standard sRGB - Displaymate.com. ht tp://ww w.displaymate.com/Galaxy_S4_ShootOut_1.htm

They have the most thorough display tests. The above statement is said in comparison to iPhone 5's LCD.

Also, see this: ht tp://w ww.phonearena.com/news/UL-certifies-the-4.99-FHD-d​isplay-on-the-Samsung-Galaxy-S4_id43874

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:44 5

61. timaustin2000 (Posts: 35; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


I'm not an expert but I've used my own eyes on actual S4's using pictures that I took on my own personal camera. There's very little accurate about their colour reproduction.

The article you site quotes what you say ONLY when the "movie mode" calibration is applied. At all other times they themselves note that colours, especially greens, were too saturated. It's there in the article.

The article reads like an advert for AMOLED. There are numerous blanket statements about both technologies which bear no reference to the presented research. This gives me a very uneasy feeling that the author had a personal bias on the matter or, worse, was writing to please a client.

Gut feeling and no proof, but it reads like an advert, it really does.

posted on 15 Sep 2013, 12:35 1

77. Prindorz (Posts: 13; Member since: 08 Aug 2013)


Technically, LCDs have been noted to be better than Amoleds in delivering super colours

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:46 4

40. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


I think you should stop judging Z1 screen if you haven’t seen and compare them directly and you also have to understand what is meant by “prototype units”.

Some units do have bad quality but other units have excellent quality for example in this video you can see that the colours is even better than Note 3

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fwn8cgWpTnc

And in gsmarena Z1 display has better black, contras ratio, and sunlight legibility than G2.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:05 2

51. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


So just stop doing stupid assessment and wait until Z1 is actually available on the market.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:09 2

52. tech2 (Posts: 2443; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Firstly, they are not 'prototype units' they are 'pre-production units' (there is a big difference) and often there are only minor software tweaks between this and final release as they are so close to shipping the final product.

'I think you should stop judging Z1 screen if you haven’t seen and compare them directly' - Are you seriously suggesting that I should try out each and every phone myself and not believe anything on phone review sites ? What are you doing on phonearena then ?

On gsmarena, I saw that but often its not the display but how the software is written. That's exactly why Samsung did better job with Sony's Exymor R/RS.

Lastly, I am not rejecting the fact your link is fake but the link I posted is from very respected reviewer and also the review is done with a better camera and more controlled environment. Or it could be that X-reality engine, like bravia engine in Xperia Z, only kicks in when you play a video and not everywhere else. Just saying.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 19:19 3

72. Birds (Posts: 1028; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)


Well Sony's UI could contribute to the screen's washed out appearance. The mute greys and bleak looking icons made me think this screen was utterly of little improvement at first impressions.

posted on 16 Sep 2013, 10:48

83. cyborg009 (Posts: 93; Member since: 17 Sep 2011)


When it comes to display and flagship phones, yes you should try them out yourself and not completely believe in review sites.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 15:17 3

67. buccob (Posts: 1560; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


Actually if you want to see a balance "preview" the one on GSMarena.com is well made, unbiased and with first hand photo samples....

And the screen is said to be very very good... even better than the one on the Z Ultra

AND keep in mind that this is Ray S. previewing a Sony phone.......... so anything slightly positive should be taken as awesome

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:14 2

2. lee480 (Posts: 178; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


Wow. Really wonderful phone. Straight on viewing is excellent. Good job. Will be getting one very soon.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:39 1

58. Feanor (Posts: 329; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)


Do! Today I saw it live. It was a mock-up but a high quality one, so I believe identical to the real thing. The design of the body is unbelievable, nothing like a Z as most reviewers say. It looks much, much more expensive and premium. Even the heavily criticized bezels contribute into making it look elongated and more slender than the Z. I am seriously tempted too.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:39

59. Feanor (Posts: 329; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)


Do! Today I saw it live. It was a mock-up but a high quality one, so I believe identical to the real thing. The design of the body is unbelievable, nothing like a Z as most reviewers say. It looks much, much more expensive and premium. Even the heavily criticized bezels contribute into making it look elongated and more slender than the Z. I am seriously tempted too.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:17 7

3. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


This is an amazing phone, but since the Xperia Z2 will be announced in CES 2014, I think I'm gonna wait for that one. But nevertheless, excellent phone. Good job Sony!

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:19 3

6. lee480 (Posts: 178; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


There won't be a Z2 anytime soon. Look at the "leaked" specs and you know it's faked.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:24 8

9. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Yes, there will be a Z2 next year. Every year, every manufacturer must release at least one flagship, if not, how are they gonna stay in the competition?

Even though those "leaked" specs are fake, but I still believe that the Xperia Z2 (Avatar) is real.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:32 3

15. lee480 (Posts: 178; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


Anytime soon - in reference to CES 2014.
Not coming to CES next year.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:37

36. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)


What if the rumored Z2 is actually the ZL1. You know, for people who want minimum bezel. Its more probable than Z2 coz they cant make any significant hardware improvements to call it the Z2 and release another flagship in such a small timeframe. Just my hunch

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:57

47. xfans (Posts: 1; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)


True, and so Z3 or whatever it's called will be announced in IFA 2014.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 16:25 1

71. vidyadhar (Posts: 10; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)


I think so (Avatar) is an upgraded version of ZL or a Z1 Mini. As we have seen many alternatives from Sony as flagship models like

Xperia S & Acro S,
Xperia T & V,
Xperia Z & ZL and
Z1 which is an camera smartphone going to be in market by the end of this month and whereas
ZL1 which is not waterproof and with less bezel
But a monster to be announced !!!
Waiting eagerly for the Z1 Mini with specs of it's brother Z1. Hope Sony(Kaz Hirai) Get us

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:44 2

18. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; Member since: 14 May 2012)


So you were so excited over this phone and now you're not...

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:46 2

20. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


I were excited over this phone, and I want it. But it's just a few months away from January 2014 which is time for the CES 2014. Why not just wait a bit longer for a better one?

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:48 6

22. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Was*

If you're going to play the waiting game, you'll be waiting forever then. Just get the Z1 and be happy.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:07 3

28. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


Okay, you're right. Thanks for telling me. I will just get the Z1 and be happy with it.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:48

23. lee480 (Posts: 178; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


There will not be a Z2 in CES 2014.
It's very obvious.

posted on 15 Sep 2013, 18:56

81. heyhi (Posts: 126; Member since: 19 Feb 2013)


you're gonna wait till january for the phone to be announced and then you have to wait till its available for you to buy it, so maybe couple months more.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:50 5

24. akki20892 (Posts: 3652; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Dude , how much u wanna wait, every year company release new phone. So we r not gonna get every phone. Xperia z1 is best phone from sony. U wanna wait then after that z2 announce u will gonna find another z3 rumor then u gonna wait for that, so cycle goes on it never stop.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:18 10

4. GMS85 (Posts: 157; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)


LEGENDARY Z1 !!!!!

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:25 9

10. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


IT'S REVOLUTIONARY !!!!!

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 15:58 2

70. vidyadhar (Posts: 10; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)


Best Of Sony is Now Even Better Z1

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:19 11

5. lee480 (Posts: 178; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


""For now, it looks like Sony has come up with a very capable smartphone, which, however, doesn't seem to be that much (if at all) better than what the competition (Samsung, LG and HTC) already has.""

lol. PA will praise the Note 3 as stunning, plasticky and revolutionary. Not suprising. It's PA after all. Maybe this time they give the Z1 a 8.5/10 again. lol

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:29 2

13. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


I don't think they will, because it doesn't make any sense. If they really give the Z1 a 8.5/10 or lower, there will be a lot of people including me complain about the rating, PA will definitely be scared of this.

Whether they like it or not, they must give the Z1 at least 9/10.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:34 3

16. lee480 (Posts: 178; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


Nah. Remember the Xperia ZR review where Ray.S compared the phone to a Galaxy S4 and refused to take reference to the S4 mini and said "6.5/10, just get the Nexus 4". LOL

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:46 6

19. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Not to sound like an a--hole, but you really think PA scared of the comment section or what you guy have to say? Lol this made me laugh.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:50

25. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Guys*

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:11 3

29. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1054; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


Exactly! Thousands of people will read the review and agree with the rating. They just don't comment. PA does not care about 12 fanboys who are upset in the comment section and they day they do care, I'm leaving.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:51 3

62. timaustin2000 (Posts: 35; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


If they give it any less than a 9, I'll be pretty p*ssed, myself. It doesn't deserve any less, from what I've seen so far.

Is it as good as the G2? Tough to say - LG got a hell of a lot right with that phone. Is it better than the S4 or the HTC one? As an overall package, I'd say it's beyond doubt.

posted on 15 Sep 2013, 00:58 1

74. DONUT (Posts: 307; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)


they will only get "scared" when people start to boycott this site bcos of the way they rate their phones. and lets face it will nvr ever happen

posted on 15 Sep 2013, 14:58 1

79. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4108; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


This certainly is a beast in specs, but something that's almost always present in recent Sony devices is just a couple flaws that breaks the immersion of the experience, resulting in the lower score.

For the Xperia Z is was the harsh corners, large bezels, comparatively bad camera, and bad display. This is probably the worst Xperia device of 2013. If I had to choose, I would get the ZL just because of the minimal bezels and more curved design; I don't care about the water proofing.

Xperia Tablet Z - the resolution was just a bit too high for the Adreno 320 to handle paired with the Xperia UI, and resulted in stutter pretty much all across the device

Xperia Z Ultra - no camera flash (which was really stupid) and slightly larger bezels than other 6 inch devices (not that big of a deal). Probably the best device Sony made all year.

Xperia ZR - same bad display and unimpressive camera of the Xperia Z.

posted on 18 Sep 2013, 05:07

84. anleoflippy (Posts: 317; Member since: 03 Jan 2013)


The stuttering on the Tablet Z has been eliminated thanks to the latest firmware update. I know because I own a Tablet. However I do agree on the others. I do own a Xperia ZL and it is a good device. Once the Z1 has landed on my country, I'll trade it in.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:20 9

7. twens (Posts: 699; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)


Very nice Fon but the use of excessive bezels puts me off. Sony should slim down those bezels a bit. It's too bulky for a 5''.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:29 4

12. Kal-el (Posts: 91; Member since: 14 Dec 2012)


.........lol ur joking right?

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:19 7

32. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1054; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


Why would he be joking? They make the phone unnecessarily big. Pop a case on there too and now you've got a phone that dwarfs the Note 3.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:47 2

41. Kal-el (Posts: 91; Member since: 14 Dec 2012)


oh i'm sorry i forgot u needed a case for a phone that's waterproof and drop proof.....yeah my bad

http://www.phonearena.com/news/Sony-Xperia-Z-gets-an-impromptu-drop-test-captured-on-video_id38670

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:59 6

48. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1054; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


Glass is NOT drop proof. Not any glass. That's why Otterbox is making bank right now. I've broke every phone I've had and I try to be so careful.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:14 1

30. flynfree (Posts: 374; Member since: 09 Jun 2013)


You're right! I wanna see it in the body of xperia ZL. If they do that... I'm in!

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:29

35. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)


The bezels arent THAT big. If u want even less bezel, u will hv to be willing to sacrifice the water resistance. Im guessing sony might release a Xperia ZL1 for those who want less bezel. Maybe the Z2 everyones talking about IS the ZL1. who knows

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:23

8. papss (unregistered)


I love the design and the UI. I even like the weight but I think Sony will kill this phone themselves with price.i will wait and see though

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:30 9

14. wicpromd (Posts: 266; Member since: 20 Aug 2013)


Xperia Z1 Kicked & Thrashed Galaxy Note 3 in display Quality and just watch how Galaxy Note 3 lags in Video Playback

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fwn8cgWpTnc

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 10:47 5

21. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Because the Note 3 is relevant to the article. Troll.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:52 2

63. papss (unregistered)


⤴⤴⤴⤴ this... He either comes into only Sony articles posting nonsense or in Nokia articles to spew nonsense

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:02 3

27. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)


hmmm, colours are looking much better on the Z1 too. But i think both of them are preproduction units, we'll hv to wait for the final comparison.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:28

34. timaustin2000 (Posts: 35; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


I mentioned to Sam J Pullen something very similar on his S4 comparison - the AMOLED panel had a noticeably worse colour palette. The Z1 was far more nuanced and interesting compared to the hammer-in-the-face results of the S4.

I'd trade viewing angles for that improved level of detail, accuracy and subtlety any day of the week.

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 11:44 2

39. tech2 (Posts: 2443; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Sam J Pullen begs to differs in his latest comparison though.

h ttp://ww w.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu5H4U4A8U8

htt p://w ww.youtube.com/watch?v=tOhf5aagbDY

(remove spaces)

posted on 14 Sep 2013, 12:01 1

49. timaustin2000 (Posts: 35; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


Sam has a preference for AMOLEDS, he's very clear about that. He likes the really punchy, un-natural colours and deep blacks. His choice of the S4 over the Z1 comes down to his personal preferences and the viewing angles. But watch that the video yourself: take a look at the point that he zooms into the Frog's eye on both. The Z1 is clearly producing a superior image, with greater colour accuracy and fidelity and a sharper result.

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Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1

OS: Android 4.4.2 4.4 4.3 4.2.2
view full specs
Display5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi) TFT
Camera20.7 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Quad core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
2048 MB RAM
Size5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches
(144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm)
6.00 oz  (170 g)
Battery3000 mAh, 13.83 hours talk time

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