Xperia XZ1 vs XZs vs XZ Premium: Sony flagship comparison

Staying true to its half-year upgrade cycle, Sony has announced its new top smartphone, the Xperia XZ1. If you were hoping for something brand new and revolutionary from Sony, just move on, because it isn't here. Not this year. This year, we have yet another small refinement to the company's flagships phone formula, resulting in a very minor upgrade over the XZs, which was released in the first half of the year. Still, the XZ1 is here, so we figured we could take a closer look at the few differences between Sony's new flagship, the XZs, and, why not! – the XZ Premium big-screen powerhouse.

DON'T MISS: Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact hands-on

A brand new design... Not!

From the pictures we took, you can almost instantly see that the new XZ1 and "old" XZs are almost completely identical. Aside from the new color options for the XZ1 (a different blue tone and a new pink one), the only other differences are found in minute details like the rounder curvature of the sides, as well as that there's no longer a plastic piece in the back of the phone – it's now a whole piece of metal. Because of this, Sony added interestingly shaped antenna details towards the upper end of the phone. The top and bottom parts are no longer flat – they have a slight curve to them as well, and are made of metal. We aren't sure if this is exactly an upgrade, but we guess it doesn't matter either way.

The only high-end handset in Sony's line-up that continues to stand out is the Xperia XZ Premium, which has a shiny glass back, instead of metal. Its sides are also nicely polished, aiding your grip. All three devices look good. They don't have the now-trendy slim-bezel look, but are stylish nonetheless. Stylish, and tough, as all of them have IP68 water- and dust-resistance.

Pedal to the metal performance

One of the more meaningful upgrades in the XZ1 is the chipset. The XZs launched with the good old SD820 earlier in the year, so the XZ1 can offer a nice performance boost here, although definitely not substantial enough to warrant a direct upgrade. The SD820 is still snappy enough to keep things running smoothly on the XZs. The XZ Premium launched a couple of months later than the XZs, so it came with the SD835, same as what we have now on the Xperia XZ1. This is the best system chip Qualcomm has to offer at the moment.

From our brief time with the smartphone, performance seemed nice and fluid. Of course, to properly test a smartphone, one needs to load it up with applications, accounts, documents, etc., but we're fairly confident the XZ1 will hold up quite well in the long run, just as the XZs and XZ Premium are still more than capable of running whatever you throw at them.

Camera and... 3D object scanning!

Now, here's the biggest differentiating feature in the Sony Xperia XZ1: while it has the same Motion Eye camera as the XZs and XZ Premium, Sony has created a new 3D Creator app which allows you to scan someone's face, head, meal, or just a simple object and turn it into a 3D model. Crazy stuff, we know! Said 3D model can then be used in a variety of fun ways, from putting you 3D-scanned face on a dancing bear avatar, to sending the model to an actual 3D printer.

So far, Sony's 3D Creator seems like a great and powerful new feature, but while it'll definitely be fun to play around with for a few minutes, it feels like Sony is still trying to think of more useful cases where it might prove beneficial. For now, social sharing seems like the most mainstream thing you can do with this technology.

Now, here's the important detail: while the XZs will not receive the 3D Creator in the future, the XZ Premium will, because it has the Snapdragon 835. So if the 3D modeler is something the intrigues you, the XZ Premium is a perfectly valid choice – it's expected to receive 3D Creator with the update to Android 8 Oreo.


The Xperia XZ1 is yet another strong, but not-that-remarkable phone from Sony. It looks good, it's solid, it has impressive system and camera hardware, and now the intriguing 3D Creator feature. With the XZ1, Sony simply makes sure it remains a relevant player on the mobile market; it's just that it doesn't wow us. The same was true of the XZs and XZ Premium before it, although at least the Premium has this turbo-smartphone vibe to it, with its crazy 4K screen and trendy glass exterior. The XZ1 and XZs are almost identical, and feel like the level-headed, predictable products that they are. The XZ Premium, though, now that's the one that stands out from the bunch. If we were on the market for a Sony phone, we would've seriously considered the big guy. What's more, the Premium is already at the price the XZ1 is going to launch this fall (around $699), while the XZs is only $100 cheaper, which isn't that big of a difference.



13. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I think for the price the XZ Premium should have 6 GB RAM, 128 GB internal storage and the ability to have a fast MicroSD card linked as internal storage (like my Priv does). This is pretty much the standard for flagship phones now.

16. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

The red version of XZ Premium may have 6 + 128. IDK if it will only for Japan. Since I updated my xperia to 7.1, some apps have possibility to be sent to SD card, not all apps.

36. cocoy

Posts: 467; Member since: Oct 30, 2015

I like sony but that bezels held me back. I have an XPERIA phone back in 2012 and it's still working even if it only ha 1 gb of ram. I didn't know that sony phones even on Nougat 7.0 are still incapable of adapting SD card as internal storage. My Huawei P8 is capable of doing it even if it's still on marshmallow.

12. ryq24

Posts: 876; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

The koreans are just better in making smartphones than the Japanese.

9. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Well, personally Sony lost any appeal. Same design no any superiory features apart from fast autofocus in camera. That's it. 2017 falgship in the body of brick.

10. Jacksie66 unregistered

A 4k screen is pretty awesome. The 960fps video recording is a pretty standout feature. I've had my xz premium since it was released in June and I'm yet to be bored by slow motion videos..

15. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

C'mon 4k an overkill and can you tell the difference 2k vs 4k ? No. 960 is just a little insignificant feature. I agree it's cool but no more than that. Sony phone division is stagnating big time. Do you know why?

17. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

32 million dollars profit between april and june.

18. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Let me remind you that little profit they made came partially due to reduction in operating costs. Not to mention that year to year revenue is declining by big numbers. By now it's obvious they are not doing so well and on top of that they stopped truly innovating but mostly recycling the same slab year over year with minimal improvements.

23. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

Tell me something new from LG or Samsung.. Desktop and iris scanner just like the 2 y.o Lumia 950? Smaller screen on smaller body?

19. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

On my Z5 Premium true 4K videos and pictures have a more 3D look. Also, I can zoom close in and not see pixelation. Add the stereo speakers and you have a nice portable entertainment device. Who else can match this?

20. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

As a matter of fact Sony dual speaker set up is not impressive is somewhat dull. Are you marketing Z5 because even on latest XZ phones detail is smudged so the stills, dynamic range is not as impressive as the rest of the gang and algorithms just degrade the detail. 3D picture what is it?

21. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

If you play your music using the Sony Music app you get a choice of several audio enhancements and an equalizer to customize the sound yourself. XZ Premium is supposed to have even more. Of course there is a limit in the low frequency area. If you are used to the over saturated colors popular on some phones then the Sony camera may not suit you. As for 3D I main the videos and photos appear to have more depth to them since you see more background details. If the Note 8 or 1+5 had front facing stereo speakers I would consider those.

22. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Sony speaker hardware is not there. No equaliser can't bring what is not there. In some cases compact sounded better than premium. I haven't heard they bring any hardware improvements in the same iteration Z5 vs Z4 premium XZ vs XZ premium. In fact I care little about oversaturated pictures and prefer it close to natural output as possible. I was tempted to get Sony flagship for years but they cameras fail short and I tell you where: Sony image post processing is on destructive side and especially detail related aspect algorithms they use destroy detail I also found dynamic range lacking in comparison to S8 or N8 . Pixel phones. But EIS on Sony phones is damn good. I think others are catching up here too. I do sound picky it is partially because I do photo editing professionally and developed an eye for a detail, observational skills too. At this moment I am aiming at Lg V30 for couple of reasons like audio experience and decent body to screen ration. It also have decent camera.

24. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

Most of people test lower resolutions. The one set by default against 12 or 16 of others. The Z phones were always tested 8MP. The 20.7 shots look better than 8MP. Check photos on a big screen, you will see it... Also many phones have ISO limited to low values for auto. If you wanna use more, you go manual. Sony's auto reach 12800 on auto too. In low light it will recognize as very low light, ISO goes 400, 800, 3200 or 12800 in no light around. Also phones have different lenses angle. For same distance between phone and object a 27mm has advantage over a 24mm one. Easier to see things. They never adjust. Even GSMArena admits ... XZP x S8 x G6 : daylight XZP, low light S8, low light + tripod XZP. XZP x i7+ x u11 : xzp better in most situations. Ask any photographer if iphone or lg do better than xperia.

25. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I use 24" calibrated monitor. Read my post again. Sony post processing algorithm is on destructive side, detailed is not there, dynamic range could be better. Anything above 2500-3000 ISO on a small mobile sensor will bring severe damage on image .Only dedicated camera can pull off that high ISO. GSMarena can claim anything they want eyes don't lie. Having said that I am open to debate if you want to link me to shoot comparison I will take time to look into it.

26. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

My biggest complaint about Z5P camera is poor stabilization. I get nice pictures when it is held still. XZP is supposed to be much better. In low light Priv beats Z5P. It may sound petty but I hate camera humps when I lay a phone flat on its back. It seems that all the other new phones have hump but not Sony.

28. Feanor

Posts: 1449; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

I can confirm, camera capabilities of the XZ Premium are a lot better than Z5 Premium.

30. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I should have mentioned EiS for video. I am surprised Priv is better in low light but given Keynote camera surprised a lot of reviewrs I take it BB can surprise us. Essential phone does not have and Pixel 2 should not have have hump too :)

31. Djz89

Posts: 447; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

Sony phone division doing better than ever in terms of profit. And the os is the most stable i have ever used. Got the xzs and the slowmo is more than a little feature. Imo, more fun than dual camera. I used p9 ans s7 before, and the xzs blows them away when it comes to overall performance. I am surprised how stable and quick the phone is at all times, Samsung could learn something here s7 just got slower with time.

6. Jacksie66 unregistered

I love the big bezels. When holding the phone in landscape it's where my fat thumbs rest. I love my xz premium.

14. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I agree. Also they enhance the stereo effect of the speakers.

4. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

Love the metal construction of XZ1. The phone look different from all the same looking metal phone, inspired by HTC and Apple design. 3D Creator is super Awesome. My only gripe with this phone is big top and bottom bazel. If only you could've put 5.5 inch screen in the same body I would be all over this phone.

8. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

Exactly, Sony won't always follow other manufacturer's design (except Nokia Lumia) and they have done very well, just hated on their smaller battery and the top+bottom bezel was too big...

33. AlphaMale

Posts: 59; Member since: May 03, 2017

"Sony won't always follow other manufacturer's design (except Nokia Lumia)" I don't agree with what you say because i think the "Loop Surface" design (Curved sides with flat top and bottom) has similar design as their phone from 2005 (Sony Ericsson V600 and K600)

34. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

Oh yeah... I almost forget older Sony Ericsson design. Miss it so much.

3. josephnero

Posts: 795; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

Love the rectangular design. It's a matter of taste

29. mixedfish

Posts: 1574; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

We don't need another iPhone clone among the Android OEMs.

32. LawlM8

Posts: 14; Member since: Dec 26, 2014

Looks nothing like an iPhone, You need your eyes checked up.

35. Djz89

Posts: 447; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

Lol, that's what he ment :)

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