Sony Xperia XZ1 Hands-On

Sony's newest flagship is now official, the Xperia XZ1, and we have gone hands on with the device. Sony is offering up the Xperia XZ1 in four colors - black, warm silver, moonlit blue, and venus pink. The Xperia XZ1 has all of the high-end specs you'd expect from Sony's flagship smartphone. That includes the Snapdragon 835 running the show with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. These are the specs that just about every flagship has in 2017, so these are not surprises at all and also great to see. 

The Sony Xperia XZ1 actually has a few physical differences compared to the Xperia XZ1 Compact, other than its size. The sides are curved and the device feels thinner. It also has an antenna line above the laser autofocus, flash area on the backside of the phone. Otherwise, the two phones look pretty identical, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sony hasn't done much to change the design this year, keeping its design rather unique. The Xperia XZ1 does feel really thin in the hand, and it's almost uncomfortable. I actually liked the feel of the Xperia XZ1 Compact over the Xperia XZ1, due to it feeling thicker. The back of the device is now just one sheet of metal, instead of having a couple of different pieces covering the back. It gives the phone a more flush finish and it looks nicer.

Camera is always a big deal for Sony smartphones, and that's the case with the Xperia XZ1. It's the same camera that Sony has used already, the 19-megapixel shooter. However, it has added some more features. Like autofocus burst. What this does is it shots 10 frames per second, but keeps everything focused. This is thanks to its insanely quick autofocus capability, allowing the subjects to be in focus in every single shot. That's definitely a good thing for those that want to get a picture of their kid doing something. But, an even bigger feature, that's part of the camera is 3D scanning. This allows you to 3D scan an entire object, and you can also scan a plate of food, which is pretty impressive for those foodies out there. There are some use cases for this, but it's mostly a gimmick for right now. Sony says that you can scan yourself and put yourself in games, like one of its engineers did for Grand Theft Auto V, which is pretty cool. Sony also says that you'll be able to 3D print these 3D scans in the future, which is awesome and creepy at the same time.

Interestingly enough, Sony has kept the same battery from the smaller Xperia XZ1 Compact in the Xperia XZ1. This means that it has a 2700mAh battery running the show. Now this should be perfectly fine, since this is a 1080p display, and the Snapdragon 835 does work pretty well with battery life. But we can't really comment on that, just yet. Seeing as we had limited hands on with the device, and not enough time to really test the battery life. It's also still waterproof, not a surprise and it's rated at IP68.

The Xperia XZ1 is also launching with Android Oreo on-board. Which means it has the absolute latest version of Android, which is great for a new smartphone. The experience was just as you'd expect with Android Oreo, the software is still pretty smooth and fast with the Snapdragon 835 running the show. Sony's UI is still here, but it's still fairly minimal. So you have Sony's features like Remote Play on the PlayStation 4, as well as getting a near stock experience.

Similar to the Xperia XZ1 Compact and recent Sony smartphones, there is a fingerprint scanner, but it's disabled in the US. Sony is still saying that it is a "business decision" here, and not elaborating on why the fingerprint sensor is not available in the US, but it is everywhere else - including Canada. It's unfortunate, especially since the device will be the same price here as in other parts of the world.

Sony's Xperia XZ1 will be available in mid-September, and it's looking like it'll be a great smartphone to pick up. The device will be available unlocked and only support GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile. Now where it is technically an unlocked device, the Xperia XZ1 is approved to use T-Mobile's services like VoLTE and WiFi Calling which is a big deal (unfortunately it does not support its 600MHz spectrum yet though). This is something that most unlocked smartphones don't support, so this is a big win for Sony. The Xperia XZ1 is looking like a great smartphone, but the disabled fingerprint sensor will likely keep it out of even more hands.

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