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Tested: The Sony Xperia XZ Premium

by PhilippeDid you know...13/04/2017

Tested: The Sony Xperia XZ Premium
A company with a reputation like Sony’s is more or less obligated to bring out a top smartphone that really stands out every year. The Japanese have already succeeded several times in the past and with the new Xperia XZ Premium, we think they’ll do it again. We put the newcomer through its paces.

Design

You can see at a glance that the XZ Premium is a top-of-the-range phone. Sony calls the design ‘Loop Surface’, which means that the phone is made of a single, seamless glass plate with two rounded edges. The glass motif is even stronger at the back, which is reflective. In any case, it is a very unusual and original design that we haven’t yet seen in many other telephones. It looks lovely, but we do wonder how the reflective back deals with greasy fingers, because it seems to us to be a real magnet for fingerprints.

The screen is just under 5.5 inches, but unlike other top phones launched recently, it does not cover the whole of the front of the device. There is still plenty of room at the top and bottom for the front camera, loudspeaker and home button with built-in fingerprint reader. All in all, however, this device is fairly compact and sits very easily in the hand. Another positive point: the XZ Premium is water- and dustproof. 

Screen

As we just said, the screen of the XZ Premium measures a little under 5.5 inches (5.46 inches to be exact). Its predecessor, last year’s Z5, had a 4K screen with a resolution of no less than 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and the XZ Premium matches it. But that is not all. This is also one of the first telephones with a screen that supports HDR or High Dynamic Range. HDR technology gives far greater contrast values than ordinary screens, so you see more details in both shadows and clearly lit parts of the picture.

The color reproduction benefits, too, with very bright, saturated colors and an extremely wide color spectrum. There is one problem: to get the most out of HDR, you need special content. Netflix among others already has various films and series in its library that can be watched in HDR. 

Camera

As well as the screen, the camera on this Sony also shows proof of Japanese technical expertise. It is fitted with a brand-new sensor that Sony developed itself and that takes pictures at nineteen megapixels. The extra large pixels capture as much light as possible. Not only that, but Sony also gave it a very impressive super slow-motion function. So you can take films at no less than 960 images per second, which is about four times as much as its closest rivals.

Sony achieved this by inserting a small memory chip in the camera that can buffer pictures before they are written to disk. There are two concerns, however: in the fastest slow-motion position, the image resolution falls to 720p, which is just under HDTV. Plus: it is best to use the 960 frames per second position only when there is a lot of light. Otherwise your pictures will soon contain far too much interference.

The memory chip in the sensor has another great function: Predictive Camera. This means that pictures are taken even before you press the button. So the risk that you miss something interesting because you were too late is a lot smaller. 

Battery

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium has a 3,230-mAh battery. That is a little less than the one in its predecessor, the Z5, but is should in principle be enough to let you work all day without having to charge. And of course there is a fast-charge function so you can charge your battery four times faster than you used to.

Sony probably wanted to keep the scope of this mobile within limits and that is why they did not opt for a bigger battery with more capacity. Another thing that helps is the new, economical chip that Sony has put in this mobile, which uses a lot less power than its predecessor (see also Multimedia and Games). 

Multimedia and Games

The Xperia XZ Premium runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, something else that makes this Sony unique, because for the time being it is the only smartphone fitted with this chip, apart from the future Samsung Galaxy S8. Long story short: this chip is quite simply the fastest currently available for mobile phones. It is 35% smaller than its predecessor (the 821) and is the first chip made using the 10-nanometer process.

That is an advantage, because smaller chips are both faster and more economical. And this sliver of silicium is fast: the heaviest apps, graphic-intensive games, 4K video, etc. are absolutely no problem. Four gigabytes of RAM and 64 gigabytes of storage memory accompany the Snapdragon 835. The operating system is the Android 7 Nougat, the latest version of Google’s OS.

Another treat: Sony has taken good care of mobile music lovers, as well, because this telephone can also play Hi Res audio in better quality than a CD. There is even a chip that improves the quality of “ordinary” music and works just as well with wireless Bluetooth headphones. 

In short…

With the Xperia XZ Premium, Sony is clearly aiming right for the top segment on the mobile phone market. The design, the 4K screen, the camera with super slow-motion and predictive camera functions and the chip that runs all this are clear proof of this. Unfortunately, all these great things come at a price: the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is yours for € 619.83 (excl.VAT).

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

"With the Xperia XZ Premium, Sony is clearly aiming right for the top segment."

8/10

Pros:
  • Camera with slow-motion function
  • Compact
  • Hi Res audio
Cons:
  • Less powerful battery
  • High price

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