The Sony Xperia XZ Premium sits at the top of the huge portfolio of Sony phones, not just of the four debuting at Mobile World Congress 2017, but the rest of the Xperia gang too.
It has it all in Sony's world of smartphones, pulling in technology from other aspects of the company's business including camera and display technology, both of which are coupled with Qualcomm's latest SD835 chip. We got our hands on a non-working model before MWC kicked off. Here are our first thoughts.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium: Design
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is the best you'll get from the Xperia range of smartphones. As the name suggests, it has premium finish that surpasses the likes of the Xperia XZ and Xperia XZs with its mirrored body. The XZ Premium is available in Luminous Chrome or Deepsea Black and although both pick up fingerprints like they are going out of fashion, the glossy look is fabulous.
The Deepsea Black is the subtler of the two finishes and the nicer, featuring elements of blue like the Xperia XZ did, but both are striking. Sticking true to the Sony smartphone legacy, the Xperia XZ Premium has that OmniBalance flat-slab design we've come to expect from Xperia devices, though its finish is more seamless than its less premium sibling and slimmer, with a 7.9mm build.
Rather than several different materials joined together, resulting in a somewhat messy design, the Xperia XZ Premium has one sheet of 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass on the rear and one on the front, creating a great finish that is significantly less fussy. The edges remain flat with a slight curve, a feature that was introduced on the Xperia Z5, but the 2.5D curved glass makes everything look more considered as does the reduction in thickness.
Letting down the otherwise great design a little however, are the large bezels above and below the display. It's a trait all the Xperia devices feature and although it distinguishes them, we would have liked to see Sony reduce them slightly. LG has made its latest flagship all about the screen and Samsung is rumoured to be doing the same so it would have been great to see Sony do similar, especially as the display is such a big aspect of this device and deserves to be more prominent.
In other news, as Sony fans will expect, the signature side-mounted fingerprint sensor is present within the power button on the right of the Xperia XZ Premium, with the camera launcher button positioned a little further down on the same side. A 3.5mm headphone jack sits to the right at the top of the device, while USB Type-C is centralised at the bottom. There is a microSD and SIM slot on the left of the Xperia XZ Premium beneath a flap, ensuring IP65 and IP68 waterproofing.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium: Display
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium features a 5.5-inch display with a 4K resolution for a pixel density of 801ppi, following in the footsteps of the Xperia Z5 Premium. Sony has taken the trend for HDR, a technology found on the latest televisions, and introduced it to the new device in a bid to deliver richer and more vibrant colours with better contrast and more detail.
It's not the first time we have seen HDR on a mobile device as Samsung introduced it on the Galaxy Note 7's 2K display, but it is the first time it has been used with a 4K resolution. Sony has said it would be collaborating with Amazon Prime Video, like Samsung did, in order to offer access to content that will take full advantage of the display.
The Xperia XZ Premium was displayed alongside the Xperia Z5 Premium and the difference was noticeable in terms of colour vibrancy but as it was a controlled environment with only certain images displayed, we will be waiting for our review unit to decide the true impact of the HDR, as well as aspects like viewing angles. We suspect this new device will be a dream for VR though as the Xperia Z5 Premium was.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium: Camera
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium introduces a new camera to the Xperia party. Sony usually places a big emphasis on the camera within its smartphones so it will come as no surprise that this is one of the three features the company has chosen to focus on for this flagship. The new camera is being called Motion Eye and Sony claims it is the first memory-stacked sensor, which should mean faster scanning.
There is a 19-megapixel resolution on board the rear, which although is a slightly lower resolution than the Xperia XZ and previous flagship Xperia devices, it offers 19 per cent larger pixels at 1.22µm, according to the company. There is also a new G lens on the rear that is claimed to deliver more clarity and a 13-megapixel camera on the front, but perhaps the most exciting new feature is the super slow motion functionality of the main camera.
Most smartphones offer 240fps slow motion, but the camera on the Xperia XZ Premium and Xperia XZs offers 960fps. We tried it out on the Xperia XZs filming a skateboarder doing tricks with glitter and a cocktail maker messing around with fire and dry ice and the results were very cool. We weren't able to use it on the Xperia XZ Premium but the feature itself is definitely one that we will be looking forward to testing on both devices when we get them in for review.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium: Hardware and software
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chip, coupled with 4GB of RAM and a base storage of 64GB. As we mentioned, there is microSD on board for storage expansion and Sony has claimed the XZ Premium will offer all-day battery life from the 3230mAh capacity with accurate estimation, Stamina Mode and Quick Charge 3.0 all on board.
We weren't able to test the performance of the XZ Premium during our time with it as this is a little hard when there are none switched on, but we will give you an update on this area, along with software when we have the chance to test it. We do know the Xperia XZ Premium will launch on Android Nougat but Sony hasn't detailed what new software features or refinements will be available as yet.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium doesn't break new ground when it comes to design, sticking with what Sony knows best, but it does offer refinement and a much more seamless finish to previous Xperia devices.
It's Sony's most exciting device so far, and although we would liked to have seen a slight change up in design, especially in terms of the front, the glossy, slimmer build is fabulous and the 4K HDR display has the potential to be great.
We are also big fans of the super slow motion video feature and although it's also available on the Xperia XZs, the Xperia XZ Premium is the whole Xperia package. It's the one we can't wait to put through its paces in the real world.