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Sony Xperia XZ review: X to the Z

Introduction

Sony’s latest flagship, the Xperia Z6 comes with refined design, improved camera, and a due update in specs. Wait, back up a little there – it’s actually called the Xperia XZ this time around but, yeah, the rest of that is true.

Sony Xperia XZ review

When Sony announced the new X-series, some suggested that the Xperia X Performance was meant to take on the likes of the Galaxy S7’s and HTC 10’s, but we knew that couldn’t be the case. Okay, ‘suspected’ might be more accurate there. Obviously, now we all know that the Xperia XZ is Sony’s top-dog for this season, and the Z in its name quickly reveals its ancestry.

Indeed, the XZ has a lot in common with the Z5. The display, for one, is the same size and resolution as the last generation – not necessarily a bad thing, but the XZ also comes with 3GB of RAM – modern-day flagships will crack a condescending smile seeing that in the spec sheet.

No one will laugh at the rest of it, though – top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 chipset, 23MP camera with a trio of focusing technologies and 4K video recording (one could think the Z is required for that, had it not been for the M5), high-res 13MP front camera, Type-C connectivity, fingerprint reader, IP68 rating, stereo speakers – name one thing missing.

Sony Xperia XZ key features
5.2″ 1,080 x 1,920px LCD display with 424ppi, X-Reality for Mobile, Triluminos technology; Gorilla Glass
Android OS v6.0 Marshmallow with Xperia launcher
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset: quad-core Kryo CPU (2×2.15GHz +2×1.6GHz); Adreno 530 GPU; 3GB RAM
23MP Sony IMX300 camera, 24mm-equiv. f/2.0 lens, predictive hybrid laser/phase detection/contrast AF, IR sensor for white balance selection, SteadyShot, LED flash, dedicated hardware shutter key; 4K video recording
13 MP front-facing camera with 1080p@30fps video
32GB/64GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot
Single and dual-SIM models (DualSIM has a hybrid slot shared with the microSD card)
LTE Cat.9 (450/50 Mbps); Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Bluetooth v4.2
Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic; 24-bit/192kHz Hi-Res audio
2,900mAh non-removable battery, QuickCharge 3.0 support, Qnovo adaptive charging, Battery Care smart charging
IP68 rating for dust- and water-proofing
Fingerprint sensor (market dependent), stereo speakers, USB Type-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack

Main shortcomings
3GB of RAM when the competition has almost entirely switched to 4GB, with 6GB becoming an increasingly popular choice
FullHD screen resolution not flagship-grade
Fingerprint recognition not available in the US

We’re yet to see tangible proof that the RAM race leads to actual usability benefits, but if people were to reason that way, the industry would sit still. It would have been great though, if Sony could have gone with 4GB just to keep up with the times and avoid having reviewers write this paragraph and make them look bad. The extra 1GB can’t cost that much, right?

The second count Sony might end up countering with a sequel to the UltraHD Xperia Z5 Premium – 1080p for the mainstream flagship, 2160p for that supposed Premium, and no 1440p at all. Makes sense.

Sony Xperia XZ press images - Sony Xperia XZ review
Sony Xperia XZ press images - Sony Xperia XZ review
Sony Xperia XZ press images - Sony Xperia XZ review
Sony Xperia XZ press images - Sony Xperia XZ review
Sony Xperia XZ press images - Sony Xperia XZ review

Sony Xperia XZ press images

Finally, once again, Americans are denied fingerprint recognition. The hardware is there, apparently the paperwork isn’t, so Sony can’t offer the feature on the US market. We do have it on our international version review unit, and we’ll test it for the rest of you to know, but not we before we take a look at the hardware on the following page.