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Sony Xperia XZ review

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Sony Xperia XZ review
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Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • Improved ergonomics
  • Bold screen
  • Water resistant

Cons

  • Disappointing camera
  • Expensive
  • Conservative improvements

Best Deals for Sony Xperia XZ

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Key Features

  • 5.2-inch 1080p display
  • Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • USB Type-C
  • 2,900mAh battery
  • 23-megapixel camera
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £549.00

What is the Sony Xperia XZ?

The Sony Xperia XZ is the last of 2016’s top Android phones. It’s Sony's equivalent of the LG G5 or Samsung Galaxy S7: a top-end phone with lots of features and the price to match.

Like all £500-plus phones, it’s good. Of course it is. But the question is whether it’s good enough to compete with the older 2016 Android kings, some of which are already cheaper than they were at launch.

We’re not here to tease. The Sony Xperia XZ isn’t as accomplished as the best Samsungs and doesn’t make enough improvements over the Sony Xperia Z5, particularly with its camera. This is a phone for Sony fans, or those tired of iPhones and their Korean rivals.

Related: Best Smartphones to Buy

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Sony Xperia XZ – Design

The Sony Xperia XZ is an Xperia Z-series in all but name.

The Z models began with a bold and boxy design. Early Xperia Zs were rectangular monoliths that looked great in promo videos, but tended to feel a bit bigger and thicker than they actually were.

WATCH: Sony Xperia XZ video review

The Xperia XZ continues Sony's recent trend of softening this style. This time around you get a metal back, metal sides and ever-so-slightly curved 2.5D glass on the front.

It’s a more practical design than that of the old Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z5, which have glass backs – yet another pane to shatter.

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The Xperia XZ isn’t made of a single piece of machined aluminium like an iPhone, though. Its back panel is one piece, while the sides are another. There are even a few plastic panels too. They cover the top and bottom edges, and the little strip towards the bottom of the back.

Sony has styled out this seam-heavy design perfectly, though. There are no sharp edges to ruin the feel, and all the parts are perfectly colour-matched.

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I prefer the feel of the more tapered OnePlus 3 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. This phone feels large for its 5.2-inch screen size, but it’s a definite ergonomic improvement over the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, which had a sharp ridge running along its back. Still, if you’re going to spend this much money on a phone, it’s a good idea to have a feel of the main contenders in person if you can. Get down to the high street.

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The other bit of Sony styling that’s a little different from the rest is the placement of the fingerprint scanner. While Apple and Samsung put their scanners on the front, and Huawei/Honor on the back, the Sony Xperia XZ has a finger scanner on the side.

It sits right under the power button – the big grey oval-shaped blob on the side. This gets you the traditional feel of a side-mounted power button, but with finger security added for good measure.

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It’s quick enough to feel only slightly slower than pressing a scannerless power button, but I find rear- and front-mounted scanners work a bit better for quick unlocking, perhaps because a more indented style guides you towards the right area more quickly. But it is a good fingerprint scanner regardless.

The Sony Xperia XZ is water resistant too. A single flap on the side covers the tray that holds the SIM and microSD card, and it’s certified to IP65/68, meaning it can withstand being submerged in water at a depth of more than 1m.

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However, doing so invalidates your warranty. After a few too many stories of “waterproof” Sony Xperia phones being killed by water, Sony has sensibly stepped back from this feature, if only in its wording. Here’s the official line from Sony:

“You should not put the device completely underwater; or expose it to seawater, salt water, chlorinated water, or liquids such as drinks. Abuse and improper use of device will invalidate warranty.”

Don’t be silly, in other words. There’s no magic behind why previous Sony phones have failed either. Xperia Z (and XZ) water resistance relies on tiny little rubber seals, which are prone to wear, and are useless if they’re not perfectly in place.

Best Deals for Sony Xperia XZ

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Oflife

October 10, 2016, 10:01 am

I don't understand it with Sony. Like the Xperia Z3 that I have at present, Sony design a beautiful phone (XZ in black is just gorgeous!) but mess up with the camera - Z3 camera is just terrible, way worse than my Note 4 that was excellent. I am convinced this is intentional. Why? Sony supply sensors to a lot of companies, including in the professional photography world, Nikon. Yet Sony's own ('real') cameras are often flawed with poor menu systems and ergonomics. It's as if they have an arrangement with their industry customers, "You buy our sensors and we'll knobble our own competing devices." Sony make money either way. Sony make the sensor in the new iPhone 7 (from what I understand) and that doesn't suffer these camera issues.
A good camera is vital to today's smartphone success (hence popularity of iPhone and Galaxy S6/7), so I see no other explanation than the above theory. Thoughts?

Laura Hannigan

October 10, 2016, 11:18 pm

So I have had the XZ for just over a week and the camera quality is a massive improvement from the Z5. The quality of pictures I have been getting has been amazing. Lets see what DXOMark says about it though...The X performance Camera after all did score the same as the S7.The finger print sensor is perfectly placed (i mean seriously you are honestly trying to say having it on the front of the phone is better than were you naturally rest your thumb whilst holding it?)

Alll I have been seeing lately on reviews is how amazing Samsung are, How they can do no wrong YET their phones actually explode and have been riddled with battery issues since the S4. You mark this being expensive as a Con. Yet the Note 7's crazy price tag isn't a factor? Talk about lack of consistency. So Sony isn't the cool brand, but seriously no mention of Qnovo Adaptive Charge or how the phone learns your charging habits so therefore doesn't over charge the battery? I work within the mobile industry and have done or 9 years and honestly, I wouldn't buy any Samsung due to poor software, battery and hardware. Yet nothing is ever mentioned about that is ANY review.
Poor. SO incredibly Poor.

Nipho19

October 12, 2016, 12:01 pm

Great comment mate, thank you. Its just unfortunate that your comment won't be hear/read through-out. Reviewers generally like finding something bad to say about good products.

sue

October 14, 2016, 10:28 pm

i think you may have something.Sony arent selling anywhere near as much phones as Apple and Samsung so they have to keep those companies happy and are trying to compete with them with lower standard cameras.i never thought of it until now.well done

ACube

October 15, 2016, 10:30 am

Having bought the phone and after using the phone for a week now, I find that the Sony Xperia XZ is a stellar phone with outstanding performance. The negatives mentioned in this review, especially with Camera, are simply not true.

M S

November 17, 2016, 3:04 pm

No options to repair this phone in the United States. If you get it and the screen cracks or has any issue you will not have the option to repair the phone. Don't believe me; email the sony support for their phones to confirm. Same thing with Xperia X line. No options for any repairs at all just "buy a new phone". Just a warning

Aptech

November 20, 2016, 1:46 pm

Xperia xz is such a cool device but i recently noticed that Nomu S20 is such competitive with xperia xz as it is also verified water resistance and dust proof smartphone

MrWalker1000

December 1, 2016, 5:46 am

nah this isn't true. The sony camera is very capable the issues are the auto settings. It's all in the software google and iphone and samsung have better software engineers. So while two hardware devices can be the same or supplied from the same company they wont perform the same due to the software.

with that said the Sony is still capable of amazing shots in auto mode. The only problem is simply consistancy that the software doesn't always pick the right settings. In manual mode the XZ is by far the best smartphone camera when you know what to do with the settings.

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