What are the feelings that rush through your head when you touch something dear to you – an object that moves you emotionally? Excitement, joy, awe, and inspiration all come to mind, but the Japanese have a term dedicated specifically to that kind of multifaceted experience – kando.

Sony takes pride in the fact that kando is at the root of its design philosophy – its products are not only meant to serve a practical purpose; they must also make one go "Wow!". Will the Sony Xperia XZ1 – Sony's latest Android flagship smartphone – have that kind of impact on us? We spent a couple of weeks in its company to find out.

Design

The classic Sony look is distinct and instantly recognizable, but its age is starting to show.


While it is true that Sony's phones haven't changed much over the past few years, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Xperia phones are distinct and recognizable. They stick to their own style without trying to mimic the looks or feel of any competing product. Kudos for that!

The metal-made Xperia XZ1 in particular feels reassuringly solid in the hand. Its bold, rectangular shape gives it a classy, timeless appearance, and its sealed, water-resistant construction makes using it in the rain perfectly safe. Mind you, this is not a phone that would impress the demographics who don't know what a pager was. However, it would be a good fit for the inside pocket of a gentleman's business suit.

By the way, the phone should survive at least one corner drop on the pavement from a pocket height. Make a guess how we know.

On the topic of design, while we're willing to accept the Xperia XZ1 as it is, we can't deny the fact that it has an old-fashioned flavor to it. We're currently witnessing a shift in the industry – one paving the way toward bezelless, all-screen smartphone designs; one lead by well-known names like LG, Samsung, and Apple.

One glaring issue with the Xperia XZ1 is that its fingerprint scanner – embedded in the power button on the right – is disabled on the US model. Sony has yet to disclose the exact reasons behind this decision, but in any case, the lack of a fingerprint scanner on a $650 phone is inexcusable. An effective substitute isn't present.

Luckily, our review unit has a functioning fingerprint scanner, but while it gets the job done, it could have been executed better. One complaint that we have is that we can't just take a peek at our lock screen notifications – pressing the button to wake the phone automatically takes us to our home screen. For some reason, double-tap to wake the screen isn't an available option, even though it was present on previous Xperia phones.


Sony Xperia XZ1

Sony Xperia XZ1

Dimensions

5.83 x 2.87 x 0.29 inches

148 x 73 x 7.4 mm

Weight

5.50 oz (156 g)

Apple iPhone 8

Apple iPhone 8

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches

138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.22 oz (148 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

LG G6

LG G6

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

Sony Xperia XZ1

Sony Xperia XZ1

Dimensions

5.83 x 2.87 x 0.29 inches

148 x 73 x 7.4 mm

Weight

5.50 oz (156 g)

Apple iPhone 8

Apple iPhone 8

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches

138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.22 oz (148 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

LG G6

LG G6

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page


Display

A vivid and detailed screen of a traditional aspect ratio gets the job done.


A 5.2-inch IPS-LCD screen with a classic, 16:9 aspect ratio adorns the Xperia XZ1's front side. Frankly, there's nothing bad to say about its qualities: the 1080p resolution is perfectly sufficient, colors look nice and vibrant, and outdoor visibility has never been an issue during our time spent with the phone.

But again, phones like the Galaxy S8 and the LG G6 put the available space to better use – through the use of “taller” aspect ratios, they fit considerably larger screens, thus more content, within the same handset dimensions.

Our display measurements indicate that colors on the Xperia XZ1 are given a slight saturation boost. We're confident that most users wouldn't mind their appearance, but if color accuracy is imperative to you, feel free to switch to the so-called professional mode in the display settings menu.

Support for HDR content is one of the Sony Xperia XZ1's highlights. If you have an Amazon Prime Video or Netflix account, you can stream HDR movies and shows to your XZ1. Support for YouTube’s HDR videos is not present at this time.

One cool extra that Sony has thrown in is the so-called Glove Mode, which – you guessed it – lets you use the screen while wearing gloves. One thing that’s missing – a blue light filter for night-time use with less eye strain.

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23 Comments

3. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

Glove mode has been around since Z3. GSMArena review says it has more than 600 nits.

12. yann

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Phonearena, you're based in Bulgaria, but put two cons as you're living in USA. Even if it was like this, it is matter of market difference. Why you don't put as con that iPhone is more expensive in EU than USA? It is more logical con than yours for SONY?!? It is hilarious also in pros: first phone with Android Oreo? What is that? Who listen music on phone speakers? You must check the quality on headphones or external speaker to measure quality. Lame review. Sorry. Nick, or Nikolay - very, very disappointed review.

4. umaru-chan

Posts: 358; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

7.8 is a fair score for XZ1. Sony needs to work hard on their design and camera. They are seriously lagging here.

7. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

I really love Sony's slim and boxy design with the rounded sides. They perfected the design sthat started with the XZ now that everything is metal. It's the best design out there imo, even with the big bezels.

17. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

G6 got 8.6, so 7.8 is not fair. OP5 got 8.2 , it is way worse phone.

18. Didick

Posts: 12; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

I think's cause it's not a bezell-less.

5. ehsanjoon365

Posts: 15; Member since: Oct 02, 2017

Thanks for testing. Please test Nokia 8..thanks a lot

6. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Nice review PA. If it only had FM radio, a bigger battery and OIS then I would have replaced it immediately with my G6. I really love its design.

10. josephnero

Posts: 780; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

Deserves 8.5

8. hansip87

Posts: 227; Member since: Nov 10, 2015

Fair score I think.

9. EvilAPi

Posts: 116; Member since: Sep 25, 2017

I hope it was Corey G reviewed this phone.

11. cocoy

Posts: 457; Member since: Oct 30, 2015

I think the two reason that makes this rating into 7.8 points only are the fact that it was not offered by any carrier in the US and it lacks the finger print sensor there. Otherwise, it will be unfair compared to iPhone 8 which is a bit pricey for similar design and no headphone jack which is more important for people like me who loves music than OIS on camera.

13. libra89

Posts: 2280; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Agreed.

14. Didick

Posts: 12; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

Agreed too.

15. Didick

Posts: 12; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

How it could score only 7.8 with more pros than it's competitors! For example: It has a 3.5mm headphone jack and iPhone 8 doesn't, less bezels than iPhone 8, ip68 against ip67, full hd Hdr screen against hd no hdr, frontal-facing stereo speakers, 960fps, 3d creator, cheaper, better fingerprint placement, smoother and faster, bigger battery and iPhone scores 9.2. I can't understand that. Some can explain, please!!!

16. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Because specs aren't everything but I agree that iPhones are overrated despite the fact that I'm using one. Apple should be glorified for using the same exact design for 4 years in a row, for ditching things that are important for consumers like headphone jack and for using their own connector type. For these cons alone iPhone should not get higher ratings than 8.0 but we all knows how it is on sites like PA Just don't care about ratings, read whole review and decide for yourself as scores on PA are clearly biased

19. Didick

Posts: 12; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

And it's not, by the way Xperia phone are too much optimized, and the performance is so fast and smooth. This phone deserve way more than a 7.8, maybe a 8.7 like XZ Premium ou 8.8.

20. cocoy

Posts: 457; Member since: Oct 30, 2015

It's simple bro. This is business and they have to earn too just like us. If sony wants to have a very good review of their phones they have to be generous too just like apple. It's their job to review phones based on their opinion as a reviewer and we can't blame them for that. I think the reason why there's a comment section for this website is for the users to refute or agree on the reviewer's views or opinion based on the users experience. I wish that PA had a portion for users experience rating so that buyers who came to this site have enough basis for choosing a phone by weighing the reviewer's view and consumers experience. A consumers rating based on some established parameters like display, battery, etc. Wherein you can rate from 1-10 same with the manner of rating that PA is giving to phones they reviewed.

21. Remmy

Posts: 189; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

I honestly wish Sony would use a more narrow lens for fewer distortion issues. You can't use clip-on super wide lenses too. But at least the XZ1 has less camera cons than previous PA reviews.

22. Krjal

Posts: 429; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

I'm more interested in the Compact. Review upcoming I hope?

23. dragontrumpetare

Posts: 4; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

Ok, very US centered review. Almost non of those cons are important for someone outside of the US. We can find the phone anywhere with most carriers. Fingerscanner works just fine here. The first review on both XZ1 Compact and this one, that complain on the sound of the speakers? Havent heard that in other reviews that I think actually said it was much improved and much better. And its the same speakers as my compact and they sounds great. I heard many other and no one has a better sound. And when it comes to camera I can agree that software has much to desire, and needs a improvment because Sony camera can handle better. So again, another review that in a sense has no real issue to talk about, just supperficial.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Xperia XZ1
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 19 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2700 mAh(20.17h 3G talk time)

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