Sony Xperia Z1 Preview

Sony Xperia Z1 Preview


Sony introduced its Xperia Z flagship in the beginning of the year, and while the smartphone had a lot going for it, it was still somewhat rough around the edges. It had fancy front and back panels made of glass, but boring, rubbery sides; the screen was large and had a high resolution, but its gamma and viewing angles were lacking; the camera was 13 MP and featured the promising Exmor RS sensor, but the quality of the pictures was so-so.

With so much to fix, Sony hasn't even waited until next year to introduce its new top model. Instead, the company is already gearing up to release its new flagship – the Xperia Z1. As we can all see right away, the Xperia Z1 is like a heavily upgraded version of its predecessor. It feels quite familiar, yet substantially improved in pretty much every area. By the looks of it, Sony has done more than enough in order to bring those elements where the Z was lacking to the necessary premium level.


The Sony Xperia Z1 has almost the same external design as its predecessor, except... it now features a nice metal frame around the sides, replacing the bland rubber material used by the Z. The phone's design looks much more complete now, and the feeling you get when you have the Xperia Z1 in your hands is that of working with a very high-quality piece of machinery. The front and rear panels are still made of flat, tempered glass, reminding us of the iPhone 4/4s design language.

The Xperia Z1 is a beautiful phone and we commend Sony for coming up with this design. It beats Samsung's offerings (in the design department) and can go toe to toe with almost any other high-end smartphone in the industry.

As we said, in-hand feel is just the way it should be – awesome, but we do have a relatively big issue in this regard and it has to do with the size of the Z1. With substantial bezels left around the display, the Xperia Z1 takes quite a bit of room (5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches) in your palm. It's definitely bulkier than Samsung's Galaxy S4 (which measures 5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches), or HTC's One (5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches), or even LG's G2 (5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches). Still, we do like the classy, rectangular shape of the Z1.

Sony's new device is also heavier than most other competitors. It weighs 6.00 oz (170 g), compared to the Samsung Galaxy S4's 4.59 oz (130 g), the HTC One's 5.04 oz (143 g), and LG G2's 5.04 oz (143 g). Wow, the Xperia Z1 is truly one weighty smartphone, but that's not necessarily such a big issue, as it makes it feel even more solid and high-end.

You can find a bunch of things around the sides of the Xperia Z1. Of course, we get the new circular power button on the right hand side, which doesn't feel particularly bad, but isn't great either. The volume rocker that's positioned slightly below is a similar affair, as it works fine, but is kind of small to be considered really comfortable to use. Finally, we get the tiny camera shutter key near the lower end of the right hand side, and almost surprisingly, this one is actually great. The button is very easy to press, and the its two steps (for autofocus and actual picture taking) are very well defined. Even though our unit doesn't have the retail software yet, we've been ensured that the hardware design is final, so our observations here should be valid for the retail units of the Xperia Z1.

The Micro SIM card slot and microSD card slot, as well as the microUSB port are all hidden under protective flaps, which don't cause any trouble. What's more, they are designed in such a way so as to kind of blend in with the rest of the surface of the sides.


The Xperia Z1 is making full use of Sony's so-called Triluminos screen technology, and the improvement in image quality since the Xperia Z is obvious. With its decent characteristics, the 5" 1080p display of the Z1 may not be a state-of-the-art IPS LCD panel, but it is very good looking. As with any other 5" 1080p screen, the pixel density is incredibly high at 441 ppi.

We won't comment on the quality of the screen right now, with regards to things such as color balance and even brightness, because the software of our unit isn't final and these aspects of the handset may change by the time it launches officially on the market.

The Xperia Z1 supports the so-called X-Reality image enhancement technology, which attempts to boost the quality of photos and video viewed on the phone. Indeed, media that's displayed on the Z1's screen using the X-Reality engine looks very cool. For the most part, there's not rocket-science involved with X-Reality, as it tweaks things such as the contrast of the image, the sharpness, colors and other similar stuff, in order to come up with a more impressive picture.



1. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

TBH, I had really high expectations for this phone but the size and display are a bit of a let down IMO :( Design and camera are pretty good though !

11. yudi.nemesis unregistered

What happen with the display?

26. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Actually, I was expecting Triluminous display would be a killer but clearly is not. Its a lot better than Xperia Z but no where near the competition: h ttp://ww htt p://w (remove spaces) ...and that doesn't even include the best display on the market.... LG G2. Unless, as Ray S, mentions the display is improved via the final updates, the display is bit of a bummer :(

37. timaustin2000

Posts: 42; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

With respect, I disagree on the screen being a disappointment - it seems to be a very, very good screen indeed, especially when compared to Samsung AMOLED. I've seen a couple of videos comparing this screen to the S4 - head on, the colour gamut, brightness and detail are superior on the Z1. If you're going to base views on viewing angles alone then you're missing a bigger picture. I will, however, be first to admit that the G2 and HTC One have better screens,.... but that doesn't make this one somehow automatically terrible. Perspective, please. :)

43. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

If you read my comment I clearly wrote its better than its predecessor but not better than competition. I don't know if you watched the video or not but the colours on Z1 appears to be washed out when compared to GS4 and I don't really care about the viewing angles though. I think its a personal preference that you like LCD panels more than AMOLED but we have to agree that its not as amazing as the hype created by Sony of the Triluminous display.

50. timaustin2000

Posts: 42; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

Washed out compared to AMOLED? Well of course. AMOLED colours are overblown and un-natural. The Z1, like most LCDs, produces a more realistic image. Sony never claimed that Triluminous tech was there to create eye-searing colours: it claims to be able to re-create accurate colours. That's a big difference.

54. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Your argument would've been correct until last year but GS4 delivers excellent colour accuracy. The Galaxy S4 delivers the closest Color and White Point calibration to the standard sRGB - ht tp://ww They have the most thorough display tests. The above statement is said in comparison to iPhone 5's LCD. Also, see this: ht tp://w​isplay-on-the-Samsung-Galaxy-S4_id43874

61. timaustin2000

Posts: 42; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

I'm not an expert but I've used my own eyes on actual S4's using pictures that I took on my own personal camera. There's very little accurate about their colour reproduction. The article you site quotes what you say ONLY when the "movie mode" calibration is applied. At all other times they themselves note that colours, especially greens, were too saturated. It's there in the article. The article reads like an advert for AMOLED. There are numerous blanket statements about both technologies which bear no reference to the presented research. This gives me a very uneasy feeling that the author had a personal bias on the matter or, worse, was writing to please a client. Gut feeling and no proof, but it reads like an advert, it really does.

77. Prindorz

Posts: 13; Member since: Aug 08, 2013

Technically, LCDs have been noted to be better than Amoleds in delivering super colours

40. yudi.nemesis unregistered

I think you should stop judging Z1 screen if you haven’t seen and compare them directly and you also have to understand what is meant by “prototype units”. Some units do have bad quality but other units have excellent quality for example in this video you can see that the colours is even better than Note 3 And in gsmarena Z1 display has better black, contras ratio, and sunlight legibility than G2.

51. yudi.nemesis unregistered

So just stop doing stupid assessment and wait until Z1 is actually available on the market.

52. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Firstly, they are not 'prototype units' they are 'pre-production units' (there is a big difference) and often there are only minor software tweaks between this and final release as they are so close to shipping the final product. 'I think you should stop judging Z1 screen if you haven’t seen and compare them directly' - Are you seriously suggesting that I should try out each and every phone myself and not believe anything on phone review sites ? What are you doing on phonearena then ? On gsmarena, I saw that but often its not the display but how the software is written. That's exactly why Samsung did better job with Sony's Exymor R/RS. Lastly, I am not rejecting the fact your link is fake but the link I posted is from very respected reviewer and also the review is done with a better camera and more controlled environment. Or it could be that X-reality engine, like bravia engine in Xperia Z, only kicks in when you play a video and not everywhere else. Just saying.

72. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

Well Sony's UI could contribute to the screen's washed out appearance. The mute greys and bleak looking icons made me think this screen was utterly of little improvement at first impressions.

83. cyborg009

Posts: 119; Member since: Sep 17, 2011

When it comes to display and flagship phones, yes you should try them out yourself and not completely believe in review sites.

67. buccob

Posts: 2981; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Actually if you want to see a balance "preview" the one on is well made, unbiased and with first hand photo samples.... And the screen is said to be very very good... even better than the one on the Z Ultra AND keep in mind that this is Ray S. previewing a Sony phone.......... so anything slightly positive should be taken as awesome

2. lee480 unregistered

Wow. Really wonderful phone. Straight on viewing is excellent. Good job. Will be getting one very soon.

58. Feanor

Posts: 1429; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Do! Today I saw it live. It was a mock-up but a high quality one, so I believe identical to the real thing. The design of the body is unbelievable, nothing like a Z as most reviewers say. It looks much, much more expensive and premium. Even the heavily criticized bezels contribute into making it look elongated and more slender than the Z. I am seriously tempted too.

59. Feanor

Posts: 1429; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Do! Today I saw it live. It was a mock-up but a high quality one, so I believe identical to the real thing. The design of the body is unbelievable, nothing like a Z as most reviewers say. It looks much, much more expensive and premium. Even the heavily criticized bezels contribute into making it look elongated and more slender than the Z. I am seriously tempted too.

3. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

This is an amazing phone, but since the Xperia Z2 will be announced in CES 2014, I think I'm gonna wait for that one. But nevertheless, excellent phone. Good job Sony!

6. lee480 unregistered

There won't be a Z2 anytime soon. Look at the "leaked" specs and you know it's faked.

9. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Yes, there will be a Z2 next year. Every year, every manufacturer must release at least one flagship, if not, how are they gonna stay in the competition? Even though those "leaked" specs are fake, but I still believe that the Xperia Z2 (Avatar) is real.

15. lee480 unregistered

Anytime soon - in reference to CES 2014. Not coming to CES next year.

36. SonyXperiaNexus

Posts: 374; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

What if the rumored Z2 is actually the ZL1. You know, for people who want minimum bezel. Its more probable than Z2 coz they cant make any significant hardware improvements to call it the Z2 and release another flagship in such a small timeframe. Just my hunch

47. xfans

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 14, 2013

True, and so Z3 or whatever it's called will be announced in IFA 2014.

71. vidyadhar

Posts: 10; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

I think so (Avatar) is an upgraded version of ZL or a Z1 Mini. As we have seen many alternatives from Sony as flagship models like Xperia S & Acro S, Xperia T & V, Xperia Z & ZL and Z1 which is an camera smartphone going to be in market by the end of this month and whereas ZL1 which is not waterproof and with less bezel But a monster to be announced !!! Waiting eagerly for the Z1 Mini with specs of it's brother Z1. Hope Sony(Kaz Hirai) Get us

18. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

So you were so excited over this phone and now you're not...

20. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

I were excited over this phone, and I want it. But it's just a few months away from January 2014 which is time for the CES 2014. Why not just wait a bit longer for a better one?

22. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Was* If you're going to play the waiting game, you'll be waiting forever then. Just get the Z1 and be happy.

28. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Okay, you're right. Thanks for telling me. I will just get the Z1 and be happy with it.

23. lee480 unregistered

There will not be a Z2 in CES 2014. It's very obvious.

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

Xperia Z1
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 20.7 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(15h 3G talk time)

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