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Sony Xperia Z1 Review

Sony Xperia Z1

Posted: , by Ray S.




The Sony Xperia Z1 comes with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, which is a bit disappointing having in mind that Android 4.3 is already available to users of Nexus devices. We aren't really optimistic when it comes to Sony's ability to bring timely software updates to its devices, but since this is the flagship smartphone we're talking about, we hope that the company will do well at supporting it.

On top of Android 4.2.2, we find Sony's custom user interface. Overall, the UI is not so in-your-face, but it is quite comprehensive. In our opinion, this is one of the more polished custom UIs for Android. It's certainly not the most feature-rich, but it's quite lively, making it feel fun to use.

The custom homescreen is very easy to get used to. Sony has done a good job at creating an intuitive experience that makes things like icon and widget placements (and resizing, too) easy as pie. Sony has found a good use for the pinch-in gesture. In the Xperia Z1, it initiates the homescreen editing screen, where you can easily add/discard homescreen pages, add wigets/apps, change the wallpaper, or the theme.

A new addition to the otherwise standard main menu is the leftmost panel, which lets you change the sorting or filtering of your app catalog, as well as initiate the Uninstall mode. This one's a bit irritating, as you can accidentally reveal it while browsing through the main menu, in case you do a swipe-right gesture from the left edge of the screen.

All of the essential apps like Phone, Contacts, Messaging and so on have been customized. They are quite simplistic and straightforward, which isn't a bad thing, and thanks to their redesign, their appearance is in line with the rest of the user interface. We'll get back to the core applications, after we go over the silicon!

Processor and Memory

Powered by the potent Snapdragon 800 SoC, the Sony Xperia Z1 is a true beast. Performance will never be an issue with this handset, at least considering the current generation of software available for Android. Overall system performance is also great, with no visible hiccups or slowdowns. The experience isn't so delay-free as on the iPhone 5 and up, but all in all, the Z1 is speedy enough. It's on par with the G2 and the other Android powerhouses out there. The GPU found in the Snapdragon 800 SoC — Adreno 330 — is equally powerful. You can easily run every game out there and you'll enjoy sky-high frame-rates at all times.

Sony has installed the healthy 2 gigs of RAM on the Xperia Z1, which guarantees smooth performance even when you have multiple heavy apps running in the background. The Sony Xperia Z1 comes with the humble 16 GB of internal storage, but thankfully, it also gives you the option to install a microSD card for additional storage space. You can't buy the Z1 with a larger amount of internal space, but that won't be such a big deal for most consumers.

Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 20277
LG G2 20654
Samsung Galaxy S4 12078
HTC One 12481
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 30838
LG G2 35376
Samsung Galaxy S4 24701
HTC One 23308
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 53
LG G2 50
Samsung Galaxy S4 39
HTC One 31
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 1115
LG G2 1229
Samsung Galaxy S4 704
HTC One 781
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 2889
LG G2 2951
Samsung Galaxy S4 1702
HTC One 2395
View all


The phonebook is mostly pleasant to use. It looks and works well, although we don't like how little space is left for your call log, as it shares a single screen with the dialer. Other than that, switching between dialer, all contacts and favorites is pretty seamless.

Meanwhile, it's great to see that Sony has kept the good old T9-style dialing, where you can start T9-typing the name of the contact you want to call using the numeric keypad, and the phone will automatically find that person for you. It's very comfortable to dial this way.


The busy man's best friend, the calendar, is well represented in the Sony Xperia Z1. The phone's calendar app features all the basic necessities like month, week and day views, as well as some 'bonus' features such as the ability to expand the appointments for the selected day in month view. The pinch-to-zoom function from the stock calendar has, thankfully, been preserved.

The handset also comes with a simple calculator, as well as a versatile notes app, which isn't the most convenient notes app ever, but makes up for it by offering a good array of options. Using Sony's Small Apps is very convenient. Once you press the multitasking button, you gain access to four shortcuts to handy mini apps, including a calculator, timer, notes and voice notes. In the end, we found it pretty easy to make quick notes or recordings using the Sony Xperia Z1. In some cases, it might be even faster to use a small app to accomplish a certain task, rather than the respective full-blown version.


Sony's QWERTY keyboard is very reminiscent of the iPhone keyboard as its main layout features only the most necessary keys, as well as as a similar color theme. All in all, typing with the keyboard is a joy, as the letter keys are big and easy to find. The landscape layout is also great as it takes advantage of the full screen width.

The messaging app of the Xperia Z1 is very well designed with a versatile and intuitive interface. You can easily do stuff like attach a photo, video, sound, note, location, etc. to your messages. The default email app is will do the job, though it lacks some more advanced settings like tweaking the preview text length, for example.

Internet and Connectivity

Chrome is the browser of choice for the Sony Xperia Z1, and it tends to perform lovely on this device. As always, loading is super-fast, while navigation around pages, including scrolling and zooming, is very fluid and trouble-free. The browser inflates text mostly correctly, so usually it's just the right paragraphs that need to be read comfortably that are the ones to get an increased font-size.

LTE is supported across numerous bands, so as long as your carrier of choice offers 4G, the Z1 should work flawlessly. If no LTE is available, the Xperia Z1 should default to HSPA+ (42.2 Mbit/s down and 5.76 Mbit/s up).

Further completing its full set of connectivity options, the Sony Xperia Z1 is also the proud owner of support for all the latest Wi-Fi protocols, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and DLNA. If you're the type of user who loves to explore the possibilities with these new technologies, the Xperia Z1 will certainly prove to be a fine playground.

  • Options

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 10:46 11

1. Ninetysix (Posts: 2689; Member since: 08 Oct 2012)


"Based on the data provided by Sony, the Xperia Z1 should be a champ in terms of battery life. The beefy 3000 mAh battery unit of the smartphone is said to provide about 15 hours of 3G talk-time, and the cool 35 days of 3G stand-by time. If you're using the handset in a 4G area, stand-by time should be just a bit lower at 31 days, which is still a great achievement."

Might want to reword that paragraph cuz it's far from being a champ.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:05 11

3. lee480 (Posts: 197; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)

Different reviews have different ways of testing battery life. So PA now have to edit this review to suite GSMArena's way of benchmarking batteries?

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:05 3

4. dmn666 (Posts: 244; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

Retarded post from gsmarena. Sony ditched stock android browser long time ago because chrome browser blows out the outdated android stock browser in all sorts of performance categories. So if you're comparing browsing times from chrome and stock browser, you're basically making fun of yourself. Faster browser will always drain the battery faster - Physics 101.

If you don't like it, there is root - install the outdated stock crap and enjoy longer battery life.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 12:02 3

27. SetiroN (Posts: 9; Member since: 04 Apr 2012)

Hey look, someone being a smartass without the slightest basis on the internet! How novel!

But wait - physics!

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 23:52 2

75. SleepingOz (unregistered)

"Faster browser will always drain the battery faster - Physics 101" LMAO!!!

posted on 22 Sep 2013, 00:46

100. Finest (Posts: 90; Member since: 16 Aug 2013)

R.I.P - Physics 101.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:08 1

5. rawbow (Posts: 428; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)

Yeah, I really want to know the battery performance. How's this a review if after having the phone you don't test the battery performance.

I remember there was an article by you guys which specifically stated your new procedure of testing batteries.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 12:05 2

30. SetiroN (Posts: 9; Member since: 04 Apr 2012)

apparently they don't test batteries, at lest in every review I've seen they just quote manufacturer specifications and eventually confirm whether it lasts one day- LOL.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:22

12. theZED (Posts: 25; Member since: 09 May 2012)

Xperia ZR has 62hrs endurance rating in GSMarena. So I think Sony can improve Z1's battery life through next firmware updates.

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 00:05 2

78. g_olano (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Sep 2013)

GSMA had confirmed that their Z1 unit reviewed was a pre production release and that has a hardware issues...you might not want to rely on their review rather on those sites that uses a retail Z1 (production release).


posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:03 13

2. lee480 (Posts: 197; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)

Great job!
Sony is definitely going to sell more of this compared to HTC or Nokia!

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:11 6

6. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1237; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)

If this had an AMOLED display I would actually go for it. That way it'd have beautiful viewing angles and those perfect blacks to blend in with the bezels just perfectly.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:52

21. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1237; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)

Btw, Does anyone know what type of glass this phone uses?

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 12:02

26. aditya.k (Posts: 496; Member since: 10 Mar 2013)

Probably a DragonTail glass, which they also used in the XZ! :) Not sure though!

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 12:23

36. papss (unregistered)

Gsmarena said its dragon tail

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 03:26

87. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)

Dragontrail on the front gorilla glass 3 on the back

posted on 13 Nov 2013, 21:47

132. TechCrazyedBoy (Posts: 129; Member since: 12 Nov 2013)

Yup u got that right..

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 15:30

54. Feanor (Posts: 849; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)

I'd like to see the screen live. I have seen the screen of the Z Ultra and the viewing angles are good. I cannot believe that the Z1 is any different. Anyway, 9.2 score is better than I was expecting.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 18:57 2

65. thelukewarm (Posts: 18; Member since: 18 Dec 2012)

mannn......... there's one reason I don't like samsung smartphones, wait actually two: blue ass screens and ugly icons design, maybe TFT screens on sony has bad view angles, but, colors are less saturated and whites are more natural. Out of the subject: sense and timescape IUs are my favorites

posted on 22 Sep 2013, 00:49

101. Finest (Posts: 90; Member since: 16 Aug 2013)

Then Sammy would be great for you :] put it in a plastic bag then "poof" waterproof :]

posted on 25 Aug 2014, 02:52

139. omii03 (Posts: 3; Member since: 25 Aug 2014)

yah u right

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:13 8

7. anleoflippy (Posts: 595; Member since: 03 Jan 2013)

I don't get why is the viewing of the Z1 is bad when the Z Ultra uses the exact same tech on the screen.

Overall, good score PA and also a very satisfying review. I'm definitely going to trade in my ZL for this. I don't view my phone at an angle anyway and if I wanted to show it to my friends, I'll just give it to them or show it to them head on.
Kudos to SONY for making another great phone.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:19

10. anleoflippy (Posts: 595; Member since: 03 Jan 2013)

viewing angles I mean

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 13:50 2

45. TMach (Posts: 466; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)

Not sure why you seem to assume the viewing angles are bad! I have owned this for a full day now and was watching Immortals on it and you can hold the phone flat and still see the images very clearly.

The viewing angles are certainly 100% improved but I am not bothered about that as I never view my content at an angle! If that is your way of viewing content, the viewing angles are fine for that weirdness. Whatever your fancy, the colours are brilliant and literally pop off the screen. Amazing! On the battery point, my phone has been on since 07.00 hrs and I still have 50% juice left after heavy use, it now 19.51hrs! Not crazy about the size but once I held it, it just feels top end/premium! The camera is also amazing.....! Never mind, haters will always hate 'cos their lives are empty but this is a significant improvement on the XZ which was an outstanding phone, by the way......!!

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 16:13 4

56. Immolate (Posts: 310; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)

If you hold the phone flat, you can see the side of the phone.

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 02:29

83. TMach (Posts: 466; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)

Not if the phone is lower than eye level!

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:17 1

8. theZED (Posts: 25; Member since: 09 May 2012)

Great review. Should setup a battery testing chart.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 11:18 11

9. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Excellent review on the Z1. Phone definitely deserve a 9.2 considering it's one of the best phones overall to ever be released. :)

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 13:06 4

42. HalaMadrid (Posts: 92; Member since: 04 Sep 2013)

I thought you are a sony hater.

posted on 20 Sep 2013, 13:11

43. anleoflippy (Posts: 595; Member since: 03 Jan 2013)

Nah, he's not.

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

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Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1

OS: Android 5.1 5.0 4.4.2 4.4 4.3 4.2.2
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi) TFT
Camera20.7 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
Size5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches
(144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm)
6.00 oz  (170 g)
Battery3000 mAh, 13.83 hours talk time

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