Sony Xperia Z1 Review
The Sony Xperia Z1 comes with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, which is a bit disappointing having in mind that Android 4.3 is already available to users of Nexus devices. We aren't really optimistic when it comes to Sony's ability to bring timely software updates to its devices, but since this is the flagship smartphone we're talking about, we hope that the company will do well at supporting it.
On top of Android 4.2.2, we find Sony's custom user interface. Overall, the UI is not so in-your-face, but it is quite comprehensive. In our opinion, this is one of the more polished custom UIs for Android. It's certainly not the most feature-rich, but it's quite lively, making it feel fun to use.
The custom homescreen is very easy to get used to. Sony has done a good job at creating an intuitive experience that makes things like icon and widget placements (and resizing, too) easy as pie. Sony has found a good use for the pinch-in gesture. In the Xperia Z1, it initiates the homescreen editing screen, where you can easily add/discard homescreen pages, add wigets/apps, change the wallpaper, or the theme.
A new addition to the otherwise standard main menu is the leftmost panel, which lets you change the sorting or filtering of your app catalog, as well as initiate the Uninstall mode. This one's a bit irritating, as you can accidentally reveal it while browsing through the main menu, in case you do a swipe-right gesture from the left edge of the screen.
All of the essential apps like Phone, Contacts, Messaging and so on have been customized. They are quite simplistic and straightforward, which isn't a bad thing, and thanks to their redesign, their appearance is in line with the rest of the user interface. We'll get back to the core applications, after we go over the silicon!
Processor and Memory
Powered by the potent Snapdragon 800 SoC, the Sony Xperia Z1 is a true beast. Performance will never be an issue with this handset, at least considering the current generation of software available for Android. Overall system performance is also great, with no visible hiccups or slowdowns. The experience isn't so delay-free as on the iPhone 5 and up, but all in all, the Z1 is speedy enough. It's on par with the G2 and the other Android powerhouses out there. The GPU found in the Snapdragon 800 SoC — Adreno 330 — is equally powerful. You can easily run every game out there and you'll enjoy sky-high frame-rates at all times.
Sony has installed the healthy 2 gigs of RAM on the Xperia Z1, which guarantees smooth performance even when you have multiple heavy apps running in the background. The Sony Xperia Z1 comes with the humble 16 GB of internal storage, but thankfully, it also gives you the option to install a microSD card for additional storage space. You can't buy the Z1 with a larger amount of internal space, but that won't be such a big deal for most consumers.
Higher is better
LG G2 20654
Sony Xperia Z1 20277
HTC One 12481
Samsung Galaxy S4 12078
Higher is better
LG G2 35376
Sony Xperia Z1 30838
HTC One 23308
Samsung Galaxy S4 24701
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
LG G2 50
Sony Xperia Z1 53
HTC One 31
Samsung Galaxy S4 39
Higher is better
LG G2 1229
Sony Xperia Z1 1115
HTC One 781
Samsung Galaxy S4 704
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
LG G2 2951
Sony Xperia Z1 2889
HTC One 2395
Samsung Galaxy S4 1702
The phonebook is mostly pleasant to use. It looks and works well, although we don't like how little space is left for your call log, as it shares a single screen with the dialer. Other than that, switching between dialer, all contacts and favorites is pretty seamless.
Meanwhile, it's great to see that Sony has kept the good old T9-style dialing, where you can start T9-typing the name of the contact you want to call using the numeric keypad, and the phone will automatically find that person for you. It's very comfortable to dial this way.
The busy man's best friend, the calendar, is well represented in the Sony Xperia Z1. The phone's calendar app features all the basic necessities like month, week and day views, as well as some 'bonus' features such as the ability to expand the appointments for the selected day in month view. The pinch-to-zoom function from the stock calendar has, thankfully, been preserved.
The handset also comes with a simple calculator, as well as a versatile notes app, which isn't the most convenient notes app ever, but makes up for it by offering a good array of options. Using Sony's Small Apps is very convenient. Once you press the multitasking button, you gain access to four shortcuts to handy mini apps, including a calculator, timer, notes and voice notes. In the end, we found it pretty easy to make quick notes or recordings using the Sony Xperia Z1. In some cases, it might be even faster to use a small app to accomplish a certain task, rather than the respective full-blown version.
Sony's QWERTY keyboard is very reminiscent of the iPhone keyboard as its main layout features only the most necessary keys, as well as as a similar color theme. All in all, typing with the keyboard is a joy, as the letter keys are big and easy to find. The landscape layout is also great as it takes advantage of the full screen width.
The messaging app of the Xperia Z1 is very well designed with a versatile and intuitive interface. You can easily do stuff like attach a photo, video, sound, note, location, etc. to your messages. The default email app is will do the job, though it lacks some more advanced settings like tweaking the preview text length, for example.
Internet and Connectivity
Chrome is the browser of choice for the Sony Xperia Z1, and it tends to perform lovely on this device. As always, loading is super-fast, while navigation around pages, including scrolling and zooming, is very fluid and trouble-free. The browser inflates text mostly correctly, so usually it's just the right paragraphs that need to be read comfortably that are the ones to get an increased font-size.
LTE is supported across numerous bands, so as long as your carrier of choice offers 4G, the Z1 should work flawlessly. If no LTE is available, the Xperia Z1 should default to HSPA+ (42.2 Mbit/s down and 5.76 Mbit/s up).
Further completing its full set of connectivity options, the Sony Xperia Z1 is also the proud owner of support for all the latest Wi-Fi protocols, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and DLNA. If you're the type of user who loves to explore the possibilities with these new technologies, the Xperia Z1 will certainly prove to be a fine playground.
1. Ninetysix (Posts: 1669; Member since: 08 Oct 2012)
"Based on the data provided by Sony, the Xperia Z1 should be a champ in terms of battery life. The beefy 3000 mAh battery unit of the smartphone is said to provide about 15 hours of 3G talk-time, and the cool 35 days of 3G stand-by time. If you're using the handset in a 4G area, stand-by time should be just a bit lower at 31 days, which is still a great achievement."
Might want to reword that paragraph cuz it's far from being a champ.
3. lee480 (Posts: 177; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)
Different reviews have different ways of testing battery life. So PA now have to edit this review to suite GSMArena's way of benchmarking batteries?
4. dmn666 (Posts: 198; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Retarded post from gsmarena. Sony ditched stock android browser long time ago because chrome browser blows out the outdated android stock browser in all sorts of performance categories. So if you're comparing browsing times from chrome and stock browser, you're basically making fun of yourself. Faster browser will always drain the battery faster - Physics 101.
If you don't like it, there is root - install the outdated stock crap and enjoy longer battery life.
27. SetiroN (Posts: 8; Member since: 04 Apr 2012)
Hey look, someone being a smartass without the slightest basis on the internet! How novel!
But wait - physics!
75. SleepingOz (unregistered)
"Faster browser will always drain the battery faster - Physics 101" LMAO!!!
5. rawbow (Posts: 428; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
Yeah, I really want to know the battery performance. How's this a review if after having the phone you don't test the battery performance.
I remember there was an article by you guys which specifically stated your new procedure of testing batteries.
30. SetiroN (Posts: 8; Member since: 04 Apr 2012)
apparently they don't test batteries, at lest in every review I've seen they just quote manufacturer specifications and eventually confirm whether it lasts one day- LOL.
12. theZED (Posts: 25; Member since: 09 May 2012)
Xperia ZR has 62hrs endurance rating in GSMarena. So I think Sony can improve Z1's battery life through next firmware updates.
78. g_olano (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Sep 2013)
GSMA had confirmed that their Z1 unit reviewed was a pre production release and that has a hardware issues...you might not want to rely on their review rather on those sites that uses a retail Z1 (production release).
2. lee480 (Posts: 177; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)
Sony is definitely going to sell more of this compared to HTC or Nokia!
6. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1052; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)
If this had an AMOLED display I would actually go for it. That way it'd have beautiful viewing angles and those perfect blacks to blend in with the bezels just perfectly.
21. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1052; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)
Btw, Does anyone know what type of glass this phone uses?
26. aditya.k (Posts: 474; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)
Probably a DragonTail glass, which they also used in the XZ! :) Not sure though!
36. papss (unregistered)
Gsmarena said its dragon tail
87. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3192; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Dragontrail on the front gorilla glass 3 on the back
54. Feanor (Posts: 317; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
I'd like to see the screen live. I have seen the screen of the Z Ultra and the viewing angles are good. I cannot believe that the Z1 is any different. Anyway, 9.2 score is better than I was expecting.
65. thelukewarm (Posts: 18; Member since: 18 Dec 2012)
mannn......... there's one reason I don't like samsung smartphones, wait actually two: blue ass screens and ugly icons design, maybe TFT screens on sony has bad view angles, but, colors are less saturated and whites are more natural. Out of the subject: sense and timescape IUs are my favorites
101. Finest (Posts: 77; Member since: 16 Aug 2013)
Then Sammy would be great for you :] put it in a plastic bag then "poof" waterproof :]
7. anleoflippy (Posts: 311; Member since: 03 Jan 2013)
I don't get why is the viewing of the Z1 is bad when the Z Ultra uses the exact same tech on the screen.
Overall, good score PA and also a very satisfying review. I'm definitely going to trade in my ZL for this. I don't view my phone at an angle anyway and if I wanted to show it to my friends, I'll just give it to them or show it to them head on.
Kudos to SONY for making another great phone.
45. TMach (Posts: 383; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)
Not sure why you seem to assume the viewing angles are bad! I have owned this for a full day now and was watching Immortals on it and you can hold the phone flat and still see the images very clearly.
The viewing angles are certainly 100% improved but I am not bothered about that as I never view my content at an angle! If that is your way of viewing content, the viewing angles are fine for that weirdness. Whatever your fancy, the colours are brilliant and literally pop off the screen. Amazing! On the battery point, my phone has been on since 07.00 hrs and I still have 50% juice left after heavy use, it now 19.51hrs! Not crazy about the size but once I held it, it just feels top end/premium! The camera is also amazing.....! Never mind, haters will always hate 'cos their lives are empty but this is a significant improvement on the XZ which was an outstanding phone, by the way......!!
56. Immolate (Posts: 288; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)
If you hold the phone flat, you can see the side of the phone.
8. theZED (Posts: 25; Member since: 09 May 2012)
Great review. Should setup a battery testing chart.
9. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8833; Member since: 14 May 2012)
Excellent review on the Z1. Phone definitely deserve a 9.2 considering it's one of the best phones overall to ever be released. :)
11. hulkkii (Posts: 5; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)
Galaxy S4 needs to be measured again with CamSpeed: there was bug fix for it in latest CamSpeed
13. Reality_Check (Posts: 277; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)
Design and viewing angles are a matter of personal opinion. For eg. I like HTC One design the best and I prefer poor viewing angles so that my privacy is preserved. To each his own :)
46. heyhi (Posts: 125; Member since: 19 Feb 2013)
viewing angles are not about privacy...viewing angles give you a better quality viewing while you play a game that requires tilting your phone or for instance, when you're are in your bed watching some video or reading, you dont get to hold your phone in a specific way to get a good image.
Z1 has not the best screen, but still good, much better than the Z.
privacy would be a problem if you had a tablet or laptop..just an opinion.
14. theZED (Posts: 25; Member since: 09 May 2012)
In the display review part GSMarena said, "A word of warning is due as we've been getting a lot of user reports that not all Xperia Z1 units out there have the same quality screens. It seems some of them come with panels, which have the same properties as the one on the Xperia Z. These of course, may be pre-production samples or as conspiracy theiorists suggests, leftover panels from the Xperia Z production line. Whatever the case, have this one in mind when you are picking up yours."
And its contrast at 100% brightness is 1:1513.
38. cjtaxi (Posts: 7; Member since: 11 Sep 2013)
yeah and i am curious which market will get that "unlucky" display or maybe its just some samples
84. TMach (Posts: 383; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)
The same GSMArena review that claims the phones does not come with a headset when it does along with a clip? Hmmmm...........
114. amansingal14 (Posts: 293; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)
GSMarena reviewed a preproduction model, as they themselves claimed. Hardware issues are common in preproduction models...
39. emadshiny (Posts: 1142; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)
I suggest you buy iPhone 5S, then you'll understand the real meaning of bezel.
125. arc4ne (Posts: 1; Member since: 30 Sep 2013)
And as an added bonus you will also learn the meaning of "mediocre software". :P
16. papss (unregistered)
Soooo what's the price? Just tell me!
18. WHoyton1 (Posts: 1633; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)
lol im surprised your interested after all this is the phone which has slayed the mighty lumia 1020 of the top spot of best camera phone...
20. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1052; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)
The Z1 has a great camera but does NOT top the 1020. If you actually read the review, you'd know it take poor low light shots.
22. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8833; Member since: 14 May 2012)
Said no one ever. 1020 ranks #1 in the camera department and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
25. papss (unregistered)
Come on.. We k ow it didn't slay the 1020 in the camera department. Plus unlike many I'm actually open to using other OS and phones.
33. jellmoo (Posts: 700; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
How on earth does it do that? Per the review, the camera takes great indoor and well lit shots, but struggles with low light photos and has average at best video recording.
I'm sure it's a good camera, but it certainly isn't in the same league as the 1020.
28. aditya.k (Posts: 474; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)
Indian price is 700$, so must be the same for you guys! :)
17. Rongocook (Posts: 76; Member since: 20 Sep 2013)
Yeah! Those BEZELS just killed a perfect picture.
55. reckless562 (Posts: 948; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)
its for the SHOCK and WATER PROOFING fool
58. maccess (Posts: 632; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)
yeah but why they can put slimmer bezel on the xperia z??? off course the xperia z is shock and water proof too fool..
92. reckless562 (Posts: 948; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)
its also SMALLER, hence smaller scale, equals smaller bezels on a SMALLER phone, come on dude, THINK
95. maccess (Posts: 632; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)
smaller what?? the xperia z has the same screen size 5 inch.. THINK..
93. pulkit.tyagi (banned) (Posts: 35; Member since: 15 Nov 2012)
its not shook proof..its only dust proof !!
94. reckless562 (Posts: 948; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)
again, what do u THINK the bezels help PROTECT???
comment again if u cant see that
96. maccess (Posts: 632; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)
wtf?? do you mean big bezel for shock proof?? your excuse was a joke dude..
|Display||5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi) TFT|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Quad core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
2048 MB RAM
|Size||5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches|
(144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm)
6.00 oz (170 g)
|Battery||3000 mAh, 13.83 hours talk time|