Sony Xperia XZ1 (Smartphone) Review

Sony Xperia XZ1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great
Sony Xperia XZ1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great 2
Sony Xperia XZ1
Company: Sony
Type: Smartphone
MSRP: $499.99
CGM Editors Choice

Owning a phone is a necessity. Most of modern life is conducted through our phones and without them we would be lost. It goes without saying, that having a flagship phone is beneficial for a variety of reasons. When someone purchases a flagship phone, they expect the latest in technology and style. Sony released their latest flagship, the Sony Xperia XZ1. This phone is set to stand alongside the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Apple’s iPhone X, and LG’s G6. Surprisingly, this phone has the ability to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big boys.

Let’s talk about the biggest elephant in the room, the bezels. You cannot take one look at the Sony Xperia XZ1 without seeing the massive black spaces above and below the screen. With more and more manufacturers moving towards having edge-to-edge screens on their devices, Sony made the interesting decision to keep two fairly large parts of their screen.

Sony Xperia Xz1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great 8
Sony Xperia XZ1 (image credit: CGM Staff)

The rounded edges on the top and bottom of the phone lend it an interesting look but overall the phone does have some issues with holding it. At times, I found navigating the screen with the phone in just one hand was not the easiest and the phone has a tendency to lean towards me, threatening to fall out of my grasp.

The back of the phone is minimalistic. Featuring a smooth black metal finish, a slight bump from the camera, and the Xperia logo in the middle.

An interesting inclusion in the Sony Xperia XZ1 is the addition of a dedicated shutter button. It’s been a while since I’ve used a phone with a shutter button and the inclusion of it is welcome. Above the shutter button is the indented power button. It sits just beneath the edge of the phone and I never found myself having an issue with it. The button is also the fingerprint scanner for the device. The scanner works wonderfully and I was able to calibrate every finger that I felt I might have needed to use to unlock the phone.

Underneath all this exterior is your standard flagship phone for 2017. The Sony Xperia XZ1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor which is the same chip as the one in the Galaxy S8 and the Pixel 2. Alongside the processor is 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. There is a MicroSD slot so that storage can be expanded up to 256GB.

Sony Xperia Xz1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great 5
Sony Xperia XZ1 (image credit: CGM Staff)

Apps were responsive and snappy with the only slowdown being when an app would load an external ad. Outside of that one moment, the phone was more than able to handle anything we threw at it. Apps like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp worked like a charm.

Included in the Sony Xperia XZ1 is the latest edition of the Android operating system, Oreo. Oreo works beautifully and is a welcome upgrade. The only issue is the amount of preinstalled apps that Sony includes. Many of these apps stand beside their Google cousins as though family members put them in a line. After removing or disabling a vast majority of the included apps, I felt right at home using this phone.

Sony Xperia Xz1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great 7
Sony Xperia XZ1 (image credit: CGM Staff)

The camera on the Sony Xperia XZ1 is probably the second most lacking area on the phone, right after the design. While the rear camera is 19 megapixels and has an f/2.0 aperture, the camera struggled at times. The autofocus on the camera had trouble focusing on subjects at times resulting in blurry edges or details. The largest issue is that low-light photos were practically useless. These photos were often very dark and grainy.

Powering all of this is a relatively small 2,700mAh battery. While other users found the phone to lack in the power department, it survived me a whole day. This included days of GPS navigation, music playing, and video watching. As long as the phone was charged when I went to sleep it survived. Moments where it needed a charge, such as when a late night turns into an early morning, the support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 meant that even a half hour would fill around 50% of the battery’s charge.

The price of the Sony Xperia XZ1 is also a large issue. Through only two select companies carry it here in Toronto, the phone is available unlocked for a $1000 CAD price tag. Outside of that, the best bet for purchasing this phone would be through Amazon for the price of $780 CAD. At that price, the phone has to compete with all the other major flagships. While it is still on the cheaper end, the phone doesn’t do anything that really separates it from all the other flagships.

Sony Xperia Xz1 (Smartphone) Review – Boringly Great 1
Sony Xperia XZ1 (image credit: CGM Staff)

At the end of the day, Sony has made a good flagship phone. It performs on par with any other flagships of this year and users who choose it will not be left out. The main issues with the Sony Xperia XZ1 are the ageing design and the useless lowlight camera. If you can get over the design, and the camera issue doesn’t bother you, then I can wholeheartedly recommend this phone. For anyone else, the other flagships are worth a glance if you are planning to spend this much on a phone.

A retail version of this device reviewed was provided by the manufacturer. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Jesse Cabral’s review of Divinity Original Sin 2 and his review of the MSI Stealth Pro!

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