Smartphone 4K HDR in action: check out the Sony Xperia XZ Premium's display

Sony's latest high-end smartphone just made its debut at MWC 2017, and its biggest feature is a bit of a blast form the past. Sony was ahead of its time back in 2015 when it introduced the Xperia Z5 Premium, the first smartphone ever to squeeze a 4K screen's worth of pixels into a tiny, pocket-friendly form-factor. While other manufacturers have been content to top out at quad-HD ever since, Sony's stepping back up to the plate with its sophomore 4K smartphone effort, introducing the new Xperia XZ Premium.

We already got an early look at this 4K phone, but our initial run-in was a bit limited, with the hardware not quite ready to be powered-up. Since that takes a bit of the air out of the whole point of having a fancy new display, we absolutely had to circle back around on the MWC show floor to track down fully-functional Xperia XZ Premium handsets.

With the phone now ready to let loose with its 4K HDR action, we're finally able to see just how incredibly sharp, detailed, and colorful this screen appears in person. In addition to getting to check out Sony's familiar Android UI on the ultra-high-res new screen, we also watched some demos of how the new 4K support for HDR video compares with the old Z5 Premium, which lacks that HDR mode.

As we'd only expect, there's a pronounced difference in image quality between these two handsets. They both look really, really good – don't get us wrong – but brightness, contrast, and even color saturation pulled ahead on the Xperia XZ Premium's new 4K HDR display.

Admittedly, it's a bit tricky to convey that distinction when the screens are being filmed (not in HDR) and displayed on your home computer or phone's display (also not in HDR). We've done our best to give you a taste of what the XZ Premium can do here, but this is one of those screens that you're really going to have to see for yourself for the full impact of its image quality to sink in.

From what we've seen today, the Xperia XZ Premium seems all kinds of promising. It's got a display that's nothing short of impressive, runs what sure seems to be the most powerful processor around, and manages to not look half-bad either (its predilection for picking up fingerprints like a magnet notwithstanding).

We're going to have to take one of these handsets back to the PhoneArena labs and perform our full spectrum of display tests on it before we can close the book on the Xperia XZ Premium and its 4K HDR screen, but that's one analysis we can't wait to perform. Keep checking in with us to make sure you don't miss it, and for now, enjoy this first look at the display in action.

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Sony at MWC 2017 (11 updates)

Related phones

Xperia XZ Premium
  • Display 5.5" 2160 x 3840 pixels
  • Camera 19 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3230 mAh(24.7h 3G talk time)



1. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

Does this phone stay in 4k all the time or does it scale to 1080p in everything except the stock gallery? Also, can we watch/cast 4k Netflix/youtube using the phone? Is there any way to choose resolution using the settings menu/power saving options? Is the screen 8-bit or 10-bit(needed to take full advantage of HDR10)?

2. letosaw

Posts: 135; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

As far as I've heard it stays in 4K all the time and it will be able to play 4K youtube videos without any problems.

4. sgodsell

Posts: 7594; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

When the original Xperia Z5 premium first came out. It was running Android lollipop, and to top it off the Android OS did not support 4k displays. That is why there was some custom camera and viewing apps that were written to take advantage of the 4k display. As soon as Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 arrived on this device, then the Android OS as well as any developers could now write apps to take advantage of the Z5 premium display.

6. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

The UI (and I think Sony apps) is in 4K. You can watch Amazon Prime in 4K but I'm not sure about other apps. No word on the display (the panel is likely 8-bit with FRC to save time and money but the SD835 might be DSC 1.2 ready and the display could use many LED backlights to cut down power consumption for a more power hungry 10 bit panel).

11. Shamoy

Posts: 112; Member since: Dec 28, 2013

No it doesn't. It runs most things in 1080p with 4K in media player apps. However, you can change the display mode to always 4K but that's gonna result in terrible battery life.

3. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

So its true, Android Messenger is the default SMS app in most of 2017 droids. I'm nitpicky when it comes to SMS, its either Sony's or Textra but I'm willing to test Android's too.

5. Lyngdoh

Posts: 319; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

You still Text via SMS?

7. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

Jesus christ that bezel. What a waste.

9. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

I think their bezel is still better than 2016 Google Pixel and iPhone. There a rumour that 2017 iPhone will have small bezel so Sony is taking a big chance by not shrinking their bezel smaller.

10. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Android it appears to me that those bezel do hoiluse two front-firibg speakers, one at the top, and the other at the bottom... apparently.

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