With the Xperia XZ Premium available for purchase in the U.S. now, let’s take a closer look at the device and see if it is indeed a decent enough upgrade over the company’s 2016 flagship, the Xperia X Performance. It is worth mentioning here that we had compared Sony’s latest flagship with the Xperia XZ side-by-side just last week, and the new device came up trumps without so much as breaking a sweat. Of course, the Xperia X Performance is very similar to the Xperia XZ in terms of their hardware, the shared OmniBalance design and the Xperia UI Android skin, so should this result be any different? Let’s find out!
Sony’s latest flagship is finally available for purchase a week after it went on pre-order in the U.S., but months after it was originally unveiled at the MWC trade show in Barcelona earlier this year. The device actually won the title of the “Best New Smartphone at MWC 2017” at the annual Global Mobile (Glomo) Awards earlier this year, which is a definite testament to the quality of the device. The Xperia XZ Premium comes with a glossy ‘Loop Surface’ design with smooth, rounded edges. The top and bottom bezels of the device are made out of metal and have diamond-cut chamfered edges, which gives the phone a distinct look. Much like some of its competitors in the market, the Xperia XZ Premium also comes with a glass back with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection.
Sony’s latest smartphone doesn't just look every bit the high-end flagship smartphone that it is, but also ships with some serious firepower under the hood. The device features a 5.46-inch IPS LCD Triluminous display covered with 2.5D curved glass. The panel comes with a 4K pixel resolution (3840 x 2160) and is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 835 SoC that comes with the Adreno 540 GPU and a 64-bit CPU with eight custom Kryo 280 cores. While four of those cores are clocked at a maximum frequency of 2.45GHz, the other four run at a slightly slower 2.19GHz. The device also comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded by a microSD card of up to 256GB in capacity. The device carries a non-removable 3,230 mAh Li-ion battery with support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, and comes with Android 7.0 Nougat pre-installed, but is expected to receive the Android O update at some stage going forward.
As for the sensors, the Xperia XZ Premium comes with an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a proximity sensor, a barometer, a magnetometer (e-compass) and a color spectrum sensor, while cellular connectivity includes support for 4G LTE, 3G HSPA and 2G GSM. The device features USB Type-C connectivity like many newer smartphones, but unlike many of its peers, also includes a 3.5mm audio port for compatibility with older headphones. The Xperia XZ Premium is also fully waterproof and dust resistant as is evident from its IP68 certification, so it can remain submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes at a stretch.
Coming to the imaging options on the Xperia XZ Premium, it uses a 19-megapixel rear-facing camera with 5-axis electronic image stabilization (EIS), PDAF and laser autofocus along with an LED flash. The camera has an f/2.0 aperture, a 25mm focal length and a 1/2.3″ sensor size, with software features that include geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR and panorama. The camera can record 4K videos at 30fps and 720p ultra slow motion videos at 960fps, although you can only record for about 0.15 seconds in this mode. The front facing camera is a 13-megapixel sensor that can record 1080p videos at 30fps and, comes with an f/2.0 aperture, a 22mm focal length, a 1/3-inch sensor size and 1.12µm pixel size.
While all of that makes the Xperia XZ Premium a serious smartphone with the very best hardware available today, you’ll need to remember one thing if you’re planning to pick one up in the U.S. For some reason best known to Sony, the U.S. version of this device does not come with a fingerprint scanner. In fact, none of Sony’s recent smartphones offer this standard biometric sensor for reasons the company is yet to fully explain. However, if you’re buying the device anywhere outside the U.S., you won’t have to worry about missing out on the fingerprint scanner, as international units of the device all ship with the sensor, which is just as well, seeing as even $100 smartphones have started shipping with them these days.
Sony announced the Xperia X Performance at the MWC 2016 trade show alongside the Xperia XA and Xperia X. While the other two are mid-range devices with relatively modest hardware, the one that comes with the ‘Performance’ moniker had the very best hardware components that were available in the market at that time. Although the device was superseded by the Xperia XZ late last year, it continues to remain a solid smartphone with a premium build, high-end features and top-quality image sensors. The device comes with Sony’s OmniBalance design that was first seen in the company’s earlier Z-series smartphones, but the Japanese tech giant decided to continue on with most elements of it on its first-generation X-series devices, including the Xperia X Performance. The device comes with a metal frame with brushed aluminum fishing, and incorporates a centered power button on the right side above an elongated volume rocker and a hardware camera shutter.
The Xperia X Performance features a 5-inch 1080p Triluminous IPS LCD display that comes with a scratch-resistant glass and oleophobic (oil-resistant) coating. The device is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC that comes with four custom Kryo cores with two of them running at a maximum frequency of 2.16GHz and the other two at 2.15GHz. The chip also comes with an integrated Adreno 530 GPU for all its graphics processing needs. The device includes 3GB of RAM with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, but both versions come with expansion slots that support microSD cards of up to 256GB in capacity. The device carries a non-removable 2,700 mAh Li-ion battery with support for Quick Charge 2.0, and originally shipped with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow pre-installed, although, it has since received Android 7.1.1 Nougat through an OTA update.
Coming to the optics, the Xperia X performance offers a 23-megapixel rear-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture, a 24mm focal length and a 1/2.3-inch sensor size with phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and an LED flash. The camera can record 1080p videos at up to 60fps, but doesn’t support native 4K recording. As for the front-facing selfie-cam, the device comes with a 13-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, 22mm focal length and a 1/3-inch sensor size. It can also record 1080p videos and comes with a built-in HDR mode that should add more dynamic range to your selfies. Connectivity options on the device include dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.2 and GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS. Sadly, the device does not ship with a USB Type-C port, but comes with a standard microUSB 2.0 port for charging and data syncing.
Just like the Xperia XZ Premium, U.S. units of the Xperia X Performance also ship without the fingerprint scanner, although, devices meant for international markets won’t have that problem. However, unlike its newer stable-mate, the device actually misses out on the NFC chip irrespective of the region, so you won’t be able to use Android Pay with it. The confusing situation with the fingerprint scanner and the total lack of NFC notwithstanding, the Xperia X performance does actually ship with a number of other sensors, including an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a proximity sensor, a barometer and a magnetometer (e-compass). The device is also IP68 certified, so you can dunk it in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes at a stretch without damaging it. The Xperia X Performance measures 143.7mm in length, 70.4mm in width and 8.7mm in thickness while weighing in at 164.4 grams.
The Xperia X Performance is a pretty decent device, more so after the recent price cut just before the introduction of the Xperia XZ Premium. However, the game has moved on well and truly over the past year, and Sony’s 2016 flagship now looks positively staid under the onslaught of newer, glitzier and more powerful devices that offer sleek designs and innovative new features that the one-and-a-half year old handset just can’t match up to. That being the case, the Xperia XZ Premium wins this one in a canter, just as it was expected to, even with the slightly off-putting $800 price-tag that comes with it. Overall, Sony’s latest flagship is a pretty compelling device if you’re on the lookout of an all-new premium smartphone, even more so if you’re living outside the U.S. The Xperia X Performance, however, has not stood up to the test of time, and to be brutally honest, doesn’t really have anything compelling to offer any more even though it is much cheaper today than it was last year.