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Sony Xperia XZ Review

The Sony Xperia XZ offers a 23 megapixel sensor, 5-axis image stabilisation, and premium design, but can the camera deliver the goods?

|  Sony Xperia XZ in Camera Phones
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Sony Xperia XZ Underwater

The Sony Xperia XZ is Sony's latest smartphone, and features a 23 megapixel sensor, a dedicated shutter release button, as well as introducing 5-axis image stabilisation to the camera. It's also waterproof, and features a premium metal design. 

Sony Xperia XZ Features

Sony Xperia XZ Black (8)

Unlike other smartphones, that have opted for lower resolution sensors, and larger pixels for better low-light performance, Sony has opted for a 23-megapixel sensor, and a larger sensor size, with the sensor in the Xperia XZ being a 1/2.3inch sensor - the same size used in most compact cameras. However, with 23 million pixels, the pixel size is 1.1microns, smaller than that found in other smartphones, such as the 12 megapixel Samsung Galaxy S7, and iPhone 7, with the S7 having 1.4micron pixels. 

Sony has used a 24mm equivalent f/2.0 lens, and the camera now has 5-axis electronic image stabilisation, which should help in low light, and brings the Xperia range more up to date with other premium smartphones on the market. Like the previously mentioned smartphones, the Xperia XZ is waterproof down to 1.5 metres, with an IPX68 rating. 

Sony says it has "triple image sensing" technology to analyse, adapt and capture perfect shots in challenging conditions, this include the 23-megapixel sensor, a laser AF sensor to measure the distance to the subject, and an RGBC-IR sensor to measure visible and IR colour information to adjust white balance.

There are a number of shooting modes, including "Superior" intelligent Auto+, manual mode, as well as numerous scene modes. You can shoot HDR images, and the camera features object tracking AF. In the video recording mode you can choose from a number of different scene modes, and the video mode also lets you use object tracking AF. To add additional features to the camera, the camera app comes with a number of additional camera apps, including Creative Effect, Sweep Panorama, Sound Photo, Sticker creator, Timeshift video, and 4K video to name a few. You can add additional camera apps for free.

The XZ updates the Xperia Z5 and Xperia X - and runs Android version 6 (Marshmallow), with 3GB of ram, and 32GB of storage. The phone features a 5.2inch screen with a Full HD (1920x1080) resolution and Gorilla Glass to protect the screen from scratches and damage. The XZ comes with all the usual features we've come to expect from a premium smartphone, including NFC, Bluetooth, GPS, front stereo speakers, a fingerprint sensor (built-in to the power button), and Quick Charge 3.0 for faster battery charging. 

Sony Xperia XZ Black (11)

Key Features

  • 23-megapixel sensor (1/2.3inch) BSI CMOS sensor
  • 24mm f/2.0 lens, 5-axis electronic image stabilisation (gyro and accelerometer sensors)
  • 13 megapixel, 22mm, f/2.0, selfie camera (1/3.06inch sensor, ISO up to ISO6400)
  • 5.2inch FullHD (1920 x 1080) screen
  • Laser and Predictive Hybrid AF 
  • Waterproof to 1.5m (IPX68 rating)
  • 4K (UHD) / FullHD 60/30fps video recording
  • ISO50 to ISO3200 (standard range) up to ISO12800 (Low-light photo)
  • 3GB ram, 32GB storage (64GB on dual sim version)
  • HDR, Panoramic, Creative Effect, Scene modes 
  • 146x72x8.1mm, 161g, USB C, 2900mAh battery
  • Available in a number of different colours

Sony Xperia XZ Handling

Sony Xperia XZ Black (6)

The Sony Xperia XZ has a premium feel and design, with a slightly curved screen, that curves neatly into the curved metal frame of the phone, and the back metal plate also features this curve, making the design look very well thought out. The metal back will also be of some comfort to those who have used phones (such as the old iPhone, and older Xperia phones) with a glass back - glass backs are just as likely to break as glass screens. The curved edges feel nicer in the hand than the previous Z5 series, and the rear is much less fingerprint prone when compared to glass backed phones like the Galaxy S7, or Z5 Premium.

The phone features a dedicated two-stage shutter release button, with the first button focusing the camera, and a full-press taking the photo. This is also a quick way to get straight into the camera mode when the phone is locked.  Previous Xperia phones have had issues with the lens coating on the rear camera being easily scratched off, which adds to lens flare, loss of contrast, and can degrade image quality noticeably, so this is something to keep an eye on, and for this reason, a protective case is recommended. 

You can use the touch-screen to set the focus point anywhere on the screen. The screen looks really good, with good colour reproduction, and the viewing angles are also good with whites remaining white even when viewed from different angles. 

Sony Xperia XZ Black (2)

To access the different shooting modes in the camera app, you simply swipe up or down for the different modes (just like on an iPhone), and you can quickly switch between iAuto (Intelligent Auto), Manual and Video recording. Scroll all the way to the right, and you can access the Sony Xperia camera apps, which includes: AR effect, sound photo, style portrait, creative effect, sticker creator, 4K video, sweep panorama, timeshift video, and you can also add additional apps including a "Background defocus" app, and "Panorama 360" and more, all for free.

Running Android v6, the phone should be familiar to most, and even iPhone users shouldn't find it too hard to start using the phone. The phone should also benefit from an upgrade to the latest version of Android, when available. 

The camera is response, but not as impressively responsive as the Samsung Galaxy S7, and despite Sony's claims of ultra-fast focus, you can see the camera focus hunt on screen (albeit quite quickly). Whereas the Samsung Galaxy S7 just takes photos straight away, without any perceptible delay due to focusing. 

Sony Xperia XZ Black (4)

Battery life - The battery in the Sony Xperia XZ is rated at 2900mAh and like most other premium smartphones can't be removed. This should be good for a days use of the smartphone, and as is the case with most premium smartphones, daily charging is likely to be needed. 

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28 Oct 2016 11:55PM
Nope, 23MP in a phone is NOT a good thing, same crayon sketch image quality with 2 or 3 times the file size.

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