To create its newest flagship smartphone, Sony took two of its most recent Android devices and kind of smooshed them together. The name reflects this fact too: The Xperia XZ melds some of the features of Sony’s previous Z-series phone with other features from the latest X-series device announced just six months ago at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
From the Xperia Z comes the big screen, generous battery, and upgraded camera. However, the metal body is unlike any other Xperia phone that’s come before: it has rounded edges with flat top and bottom sections, and its’s made of an aluminum alloy. A special finish on the metal should keep it looking new and shiny longer—and avoid the grime that haunted the glass rear panels of the older models.
Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with microSD expansion, and a 2900 mAh battery with Quick Charge—just about enough power to get you through a day. For busier days, Sony’s Stamina Mode cuts back on performance and power-sucking features until you make it back to your charger. The fingerprint sensor is again embedded in the power button placed on the right side, but Sony unfortunately announced that the sensor won’t be on board the devices that will come to the United States. At least the phone is water resistant, with IP68 certification.
The 5.2-inch LCD display looks great, despite the 1080p, 424-ppi resolution that doesn’t match the pixel density of some other flagships around. Maybe because it’s boosted by Sony’s own software technologies (Triluminos and X-Reality) to pump up its color and brightness.
The camera is much better than the shooters found on any other recent Sony smartphones. It features the same 23-megapixel sensor we’ve seen on the Xperia X and the previous Z5, with a bright f/2.0 aperture, laser and Phase Detection autofocus, a color spectrum sensor, and the ability to shoot 4K videos. It’s also the first camera around with 5-axis stabilization that helps in low-light shots: X and Y, of course, yaw and pitch, and even roll movements. On the other side of the Xperia XZ sits a 13-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 lens and a 1/3-inch sensor. That’s a sensor larger than those generally used in front cameras.
Here at the IFA electronics show in Berlin, Sony has also announced the new Xperia X Compact, a smaller version of the Xperia X unveiled at MWC in the spring. It features a 4.6-inch display with 720p resolution, 32GB of storage and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The main camera is the very same one that’s in the Xperia XZ, with 23-megapixel sensor and 5-axis stabilization.
While you might appreciate the smallness of the phone, you might not like the old Snapdragon 650 processor packed inside. It’s the same chip used for the bigger Xperia X, but it’s still a lower grade of the chip featured on the more powerful Xperia X Performance, and even a lesser one of the Snapdragon 810 featured on last year’s Xperia Z5 Compact. The upside of the Snapdragon 650 is that it drains the battery at a much slower rate than the other chips. The Xperia X’s 2700 mAh battery is expected to last 24 hours between charges.
Both phones will ship with Android 6 Marshmallow with Sony’s own Xperia UI slapped on top. That will be updated to Android 7 as soon as possible after the launch. The US release is expected sometime around mid-October. The Xperia XZ will cost roughly $600, while the price of the Xperia X Compact is still unclear.