Sony Xperia Z1 review: Sony Xperia Z1 is a waterproof, 20.7-megapixel beast (hands-on) – CNET

With all the best smartphones in the world boasting their quad core processors and full hd screens, it’s getting harder and harder for a person to stand out. With the Xperia Z, Sony made a valiant attempt to set itself apart by waterproofing the phone so you can spill beer on it without it giving up.

The xperia z1 maintains its liquid-repellent credentials, along with an attractive all-glass design and full hd display. its quad-core processor has been supercharged at 2.2 ghz, and its camera now boasts an impressive 20.7 megapixels.

Reading: Xperia z1 headphone jack waterproof

It’s not yet known exactly how much sony will demand for this high-spec beast, but it’s safe to assume it’ll be roughly on par with the xperia z. don’t expect to buy it for less than £500 when it goes on sale in the uk in the next few weeks.

design there is no doubt that the z1 is the successor to the xperia z. with an all-glass front and back, the family resemblance is striking. add the fancy xperia branding to the back, the camera lens in the top left corner, and the fairly large power button on the right edge and you’d be forgiven for confusing the two.

However, there are differences. Chief among them is the aluminum band that now wraps around the rim. It’s milled from a single piece of metal, which Sony says makes it stronger. it certainly makes it more comfortable to hold. the previous model had a bit of a sharp edge, but the rounded metal on the z1 feels much better, not to mention more luxurious.

has similar dimensions to z, but slightly thicker. Although both the Z1 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 have 5-inch screens, the Z1 is slightly longer and wider than Samsung’s phone. You’ll still have no trouble slipping it into your Levis, but if you want a compact phone to wrap around your hands, you might want to look elsewhere.

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just like the xperia z, the z1 is completely waterproof. you can submerge it in water to a depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. If you’ve destroyed a phone by dropping it in the toilet, or making calls in the rain, the Z1 could be the phone for you. keeps water out by sealing its ports with smaller fins. while the xperia z put a flap over the headphone jack, the z1 simply made the jack waterproof, meaning you don’t have to undo it every time you want to plug in your headphones.

At a hands-on event, he boasted that the phone now uses the same bravia technology found in its high-end TVs that boast rich colors, deep contrast, and crisp clarity. I couldn’t bring up cnet’s usual set of screen test images and videos, but it certainly looked pretty good. however, the previous z had a great screen, so the z1 has a lot going for it if it wants to beat its predecessor.


processor and software inside that glass and metal body is Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, clocked at a staggering 2.2GHz. The Galaxy S4 currently sits proudly at the top of the phone power league, but it has a slightly slower 1.9GHz chip.

I couldn’t run our usual set of brutal tests to see exactly how the two compare, but it’s safe to say the z1 is going to be a mighty beast. To help keep it going, Sony has built in a 3000mAh large capacity battery.

runs on android 4.2.2 jelly bean. that’s not the latest version of google mobile software, it’s 4.3 jelly bean, but with sony’s cosmetic changes, you probably won’t notice much of a difference. It has the same basic android functionality with multiple home screens, but you can easily change the order of your app icons in the menu to quickly display your most used apps or custom order.

Picture and video galleries have also been replaced, and Sony has added its unlimited music and video streaming apps. While these are paid services, you’ll get 60 days of free music streaming, as well as six “blockbuster” movies, including “Elysium,” as soon as it’s available as a digital download.

camera Probably the most interesting update to the z1 is the camera, which now boasts an incredible 20.7 megapixels. That’s a significant jump from its predecessor’s 13 megapixels, but Sony says there’s more to it than just an increase in megapixels.

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The sensor size, at 1/2.3 inches, is larger than what you’d find in your regular smartphone and is similar to the Samsung Galaxy S4’s zoom (1/2.33 inches). By comparison, the iPhone 5 uses a small 1/3.2-inch sensor, and the HTC One’s ultrapixel sensor is slightly larger at 1/3-inch. the nokia lumia 1020 has the largest 1/1.5-inch sensor for smartphones with a modern operating system.

The Z1 also uses a 27mm f/2.0g wide-angle lens, and Sony claims its Bionz image processor has been tuned to minimize noise in low-light environments.

As you can see from the sample shots below, the prototype unit’s performance for outdoor shooting seemed average at best, though low-light performance was definitely much better compared to those of the Samsung Galaxy s4. Large images captured with the 20.7-megapixel sensor mean you can capture a lot more detail, though the average image size (at 3.6MB) will be a concern for anyone looking to take a lot of photos. color rendering was pretty accurate too.

We didn’t test top auto mode because the software wasn’t finalized yet.

There is also new camera software. you can load new apps directly into the camera, allowing you to perform clever tricks without having to switch between different apps. There are four on board as standard, including a burst mode that lets you select the best shot from 61 photos, and an app that lets you stream live video to your Facebook page. Sony says it’s working with developers to bring more apps. there’s also the usual variety of scene modes, as well as sweep panorama and hdr modes.

outlook with its full hd display and waterproof design, sony’s xperia z was already a great phone, especially for those of you who are pretty clumsy or live on boats. the addition of the aluminum band makes the z1 look and feel like a more luxurious product, while the beefy processor and supercharged camera should make it an all-round high-performance product.

cnet’s aloysius low contributed to this report.

See also: The best waterproof headphones for swimming | Tom’s Guide

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