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Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on

Posted: , by John V.

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Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on

And it’s official folks! Long rumored for some time now, Sony Mobile officially announced its latest US flagship Android smartphone in the Sony Xperia Z1S. Depending on how you look at it, this T-Mobile exclusive smartphone can be regarded as either an improved version of the Sony Xperia Z, or merely a miniaturized version of the phablet in the Sony Xperia Z1. Whatever the case, it’s a high-end smartphone that’s choked full of goodies – including a formidable camera and a waterproof chassis.

Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on
Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on
Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on
Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on
Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on
Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on
Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on
Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on

Distinctively an Xperia device of some kind, more so when it boasts the usual design elements we’re accustomed to seeing with Sony’s lineup of Xperia smartphones, the Z1S is undoubtedly premium in almost every facet. It’s a solid effort no doubt, made more profound by its glass finish and sturdy metallic bezel. Everything meshes well together to give it that high-class feel to warrant it as a premier flagship smartphone.

Improving upon last year’s Sony Xperia Z, the Z1S has an IP58 rating, which means that it can completely submerged in freshwater up to 4.9 feet for 30 minutes – giving it a waterproof nature, as opposed being water resistant. And rightfully so, it’s able to show us right away that it’s not afraid to take a dip in water, as long as all of its side ports are appropriately covered. Interestingly, the 3.5mm headset jack is left exposed, but the folks from Sony assured to us that it’s treated to withstand water exposure – so there’s no concern about it being damaged.


In standard fashion, Sony dishes up a handful of fancy terms that pertain to the Z1S’ display. Specifically, it’s sporting a 5-inch 1080p TRILUMINOS display that incorporates Sony’s intelligent display technology – X-reality for mobile, which of course, adapts to different kinds of content. As a whole, it’s sharp and detailed no doubt, but its viewing angles seem to be hindered just a bit. Also worth pointing out, just like what we saw on the Xperia Z1’s display, the one here tends to have a poor contrast, which results in the color black exhibiting a milkier tone – as opposed to black-black that we see with AMOLED. Yes, it’s cool the handset can survive a dip in the pool, but the moment liquid comes into contact with the display, it’s rendered almost unusable – the typical result from such an occurrence.


Hardcore Sony Xperia fans will be familiar with customized experience running in the Z1S, which is running on top of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. We won’t go into too much detail for now, seeing that it’s nearly identical that of the Xperia Z1 from not too long ago. From a cursory look, the team over at Sony has enhanced some things with the experience, like providing us with slightly better multi-tasking with various mini apps from the multi-tasking menu, but as a whole, we wouldn’t say that it’s as diverse or comprehensive when compared to what we’ve seen put out by the like of Samsung or LG.

Processor and memory

Under the hood, the Sony Xperia Z1S is powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC that’s coupled by 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Much like the other crop of devices running the same chipset, the handset is undeniably swift with its performance – barely showing off any lag during the process. Even with its light multi-tasking element, the performance manages to maintain a pleasant performance.

Fortunately, this beauty is graced with a generous 32GB of internal storage, which basically translates to 26.11GB of free storage out of the box. Best of all, there’s also a microSD card slot at hand that complements its tally.


Sony didn’t spare any expense with the Xperia Z1S’ camera. Armed with a monster sized 20.7-megapixel auto-focus camera, one that’s supplemented by the addition of Sony’s own BIONZ for mobile processing engine, Sony’s home brewed G Lens with an aperture of f2.0, and an Exmor RS sensor, there’s a great deal of arsenal that makes it a formidable figure in the space. Having an extremely high megapixel count, it enables the camera to offer 3x zoom – without having too much degradation in the process. From the looks of it so far, its quality matches that of the Xperia Z1, which puts it in contention against some of the heavy hitters in the space.

Enhancing the experience, Sony has added several cool shooting modes that seem practical for a number of occasions. To be exact, they include things like info eye, timeshift burst, social live, AR effect, and background defocus. With the AR effect mode, it delivers an augmented reality experience where we can interact with different things in the shots – though, the end result is only available in photo form, with no option to capture video with the AR effect enabled.


Like we said, the Sony Xperia Z1S is a T-Mobile exclusive smartphone in the US, where it’ll go on sale in stores starting on January 22nd – albeit, pre-orders begin on January 13th. As for pricing, it’ll be available for $0 down with 24 equal monthly device payments of $22 with the Simple Choice Plan. Furthermore, Sony Mobile is offering a special bundle where prospective customers can snag a cool $100 VISA gift card with the purchase of the smartphone and a Sony PlayStation 4 between January 13 – 21. On one hand, we’re thankful that the Z1S is being launched right away, but on the other end, we feel as though the tech inside of this bad boy might be easily eclipsed in the next couple of months as more flagship devices are announced. Hey, at least it’s a premium made smartphone that’s waterproof, has a monster camera, and some cool photo shooting modes to keep most people content.

  • Options

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:12 2

1. Birds (Posts: 1171; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

Am I the only one who doesn't see the exact upgrade to the Z1? Someone come make me look stupid....tell me there's something I missed...

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:24 3

4. vect_saints (Posts: 1; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)

The screen is now an IPS panel.

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:30 2

6. bigstrudel (Posts: 523; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)

Much more pocketable and much easier to handle with the same internals and camera. Even better that its a 720P display on-board and doesnt have to waste juice pushing more pixels I cant see.

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:34

7. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

It's the exact same size as the Z1 and has a 1080p display.

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:55

9. Birds (Posts: 1171; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

Ok, everyone has gotten this mixed up with the Xperia Compact...LOL...I see.

posted on 07 Jan 2014, 00:59 5

14. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

Not everyone. Just the ifans that tend to be clueless about things, especially smart phones.

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:16

2. papss (unregistered)

Its not at all an upgrade but more of a smaller version. Everything besides the size is the same.

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:20 1

3. Birds (Posts: 1171; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

Ooooh. Well, thanks for that...I didn't know...LOL.

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:52

8. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

Where are you seeing that it's smaller? It looks like the bezels are the exact same size as the Z1.

I know John said it's "a miniaturized version of the phablet in the Sony Xperia Z1," but I figured that was just a typo and he meant the Sony Xperia Z Ultra (since the Z1 isn't much of a phablet.)

posted on 10 Jan 2014, 19:20

18. apple4never (Posts: 1064; Member since: 08 May 2013)

its not the mini Z1 its the z1's successor

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:29

5. Killertech2099 (Posts: 148; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)

The beast has arrived!!

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 19:56 2

10. Ikechukwu (Posts: 204; Member since: 03 Oct 2011)

Z1S... same as Z1. This is not the Z1 Compact

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 20:24

11. Lauticol (Posts: 370; Member since: 25 Jun 2011)

This naming is worst than HTC with the One series!
Everyone got confused between Z1S and Z1 Compact...

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 20:46

12. pwnarena (Posts: 1129; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)

stoooopid sony never learns. look at how awful that wallpaper is. is that what represents the best of sony? no wonder even cheap chinese brands are beating them in market share.

posted on 06 Jan 2014, 22:18

13. tyger11 (Posts: 193; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

Does the camera have optical image stabilization? That's really the only major thing the camera in the Z1 lacked.

posted on 07 Jan 2014, 14:58

16. jdot104 (Posts: 95; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)

Has anyone been able to figure out if this will be compatible with AT&T's LTE bands?

posted on 09 Jan 2014, 15:23

17. alexvv (Posts: 165; Member since: 16 Oct 2013)

only actual difference to the z1 is the 32gb onboard storage

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