Sony's Xperia XZ Premium is all about specs and power. Not a huge amount changed in terms of design when the device launched at the end of February this year, aside from a few adjustments here and there, but it ticked almost all the boxes on the spec sheet.
That of course means its successor not only has its work cut out for it in the specs department, but in the design department too with competitor flagships becoming more and more exciting. Rather than compete with its flagship device though, Sony has introduced two "complementing" devices: the Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact.
Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact: Design
- OmniBalance flat-slab design continues
- XZ1 has a unibody metal build, XZ1 Compact has a unibody plastic build
- Both IP65/68 water and dust resistant
Sony hasn't strayed far when it comes to design. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium isn't too far removed from the Sony Xperia Z that launched a few years ago, with both featuring an OmniBalance flat-slab design with glass on the front and rear.
A few changes have appeared here and there over the years, such as the introduction of 2.5D glass for a more seamless finish between the glass and the edge of the device, as well as the addition of a fingerprint sensor into the side-mounted power button. On the whole though, all Xperia devices are distinguishable and this remains true of the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact too.
Sony Xperia XZ1 design
Though similar, the two new devices are not identical in design. The Xperia XZ1 follows in the footsteps of the Xperia XZs and XZ, but it offers a more seamless and refined finish. Made from a single panel of metal, the Xperia XZ1 has no join at the bottom of its rear while antenna lines have been introduced to the rounded edges for better connectivity.
The large bezels at the top and bottom of the display remain, as does the USB Type-C position at the bottom, the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top and the dedicated camera launcher button on the right-hand edge. The side-mounted fingerprint sensor power button continues with the oblong design first seen on the Xperia Z5, and the microSD and SIM slot remains on the left edge, covered by a flap.
The biggest change, aside from the more fluid-looking rear comes in the form of the camera setup on the back. The singular lens remains in the top left corner, edged with a silver trim for a more premium look, but the flash module array sees an increase in width compared to the XZ Premium, while also moving more to the middle of the top of the device. Sony has included the NFC chip within this flash array so there is no longer an NFC logo in the middle of the rear.
The Xperia XZ1 retains the IP65/68 water and dust resistance that Sony has long offered on its devices and the Xperia XZ1 comes in four colours comprising: Black, Warm Silver, Moonlit Blue and Venus Pink.
Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact design
Despite rumours of a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact follows in the footsteps of its larger, slimmer brother. Like previous Xperia Compact devices, the XZ1 Compact is shorter and fatter than the device it tends to launch with, offering flatter edges over rounded but continuing with the OmniBalance flat-slab look.
Delivering a very similar look to the X Compact it replaces, the XZ1 Compact is made from glass fibre woven plastic rather than aluminium like the Xperia XZ1, though it still continues with the unibody finish, offering a seamless design with few joins.
There are no antenna lines present on the edges of the XZ1 Compact as they are integrated into the top and bottom of the device but everything else remains in the same position as the Xperia XZ1. The USB Type-C port is at the bottom, the headphone jack at the top, the microSD slot on the left edge, the camera launcher button on the right edge and the side-mounted fingerprint sensor power button centralised on the right.
On the rear, the camera lens sits in the top left corner, as it does on the XZ1 and the flash module is horizontally positioned in the centre of the rear again. It isn't as wide as the XZ1 however, with the NFC logo appearing in its traditional location around a third of the way down the rear on the XZ1 Compact, rather than within the flash module like the XZ1.
Like the Xperia XZ1 and many Xperia devices that have gone before it, the XZ1 Compact features IP65/68, bringing waterproofing back to the Compact range after the X Compact ditched it last year. The XZ1 Compact comes in four colours too, though different to the XZ1 with Black, Snow Silver, Twilight Pink and Horizon Blue available.
Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact: Display
- 5.2-inch Full HD for XZ1, 4.6-inch HD for XZ1 Compact
- HDR on board XZ1
- Both IPS LCD displays
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium features a 4K HDR display, offering a super sharp pixel density of 801ppi. Sony has avoided Quad HD in the past as it always said it wasn't worth the trade off in battery life given the lack of native content available for that resolution.
There is now more native content at this resolution and many competitors are opting for it and higher, but despite this, Sony has stuck to its guns with the Xperia XZ1, offering a Full HD resolution on its 5.2-inch display for a pixel density of 424ppi. It's a flat display, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and like the XZ Premium, it offers Mobile HDR.
Sony has said that at launch, it will have a partnership in place with Amazon Video to offer HDR-compatible content and the company has also said it is working with Netflix to offer compatible content eventually too.
The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact meanwhile has a slightly smaller display at 4.6-inches, like other Compact models that have gone before it. The resolution drops to 1280 x 720 pixels for a pixel density of 319ppi, but at this size, not having Quad HD or even Full HD is a problem.
Like the Xperia XZ1, the XZ1 Compact is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 but it doesn't include HDR, missing this technology off its spec sheet. It does have the Triluminos and X-Realilty Sony technologies though, as does the larger Xperia XZ1.
Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact: Camera
- 19MP Motion Eye camera on board XZ1 and XZ1 Compact
- Super slow-motion feature returns
- 13MP front camera on XZ1, 8MP super-wide angle front camera on XZ1 Compact
Camera has always been a main focal point for Sony regarding its smartphones. Not surprising given it supplies its sensors to many of its competitors, including the likes of OnePlus. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium featured the world's first memory-stacked sensor, which allows it to offer a 960fps super-slow motion video feature, among other things.
This super-slow motion video feature is one of the best things about the XZ Premium and luckily, both the Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact feature it too. There are a couple of new features coming to the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact however, expanding on those the Motion Eye sensor already offers.
Both the new devices will expand on the Predictive Capture feature offered on the XZ Premium by introducing a smile shutter. As you might have guessed, this expansion means the camera won't just detect when an acton is about to happen but a smile too, taking up to four images prior within the second before you hit the shutter button to ensure you don't miss the moment.
The second new feature is called Autofocus Burst. With this feature, holding down the shutter button will result in up to 100 images taken. It's been designed to follow your subject, adjusting the focus to ensure action shots remain sharp. You could use it for your dog or child running towards you for example, with the camera keeping each of numerous images captured in focus no matter how close your subject gets to you or the lens. Users can then select the images they want to keep from those taken, or make them into a short video.
Both the new features are switched on by default in the Superior Auto setting and they will also come to the Xperia XZ Premium with the Android Oreo update.
Sony is also introducing a pre-loaded app called 3D Creator which will allow users to 3D scan objects using the camera. There isn't any specific hardware technology involved in the 3D Creator, but the software offers four scanning modes comprising face, head, food and freeform.
By selecting the most appropriate mode and following the instructions, users will be able to create a 3D scan of whatever they choose to then share on social media, send to a 3D printer, make an avatar or an animated GIF or make into the wallpaper on their device, for example.
In terms of numbers, the Motion Eye sensor has a 19-megapixel resolution with a f/2.0 aperture. There is also a 13-megapixel front-facing camera on the Xperia XZ1, with a Display Flash, while the XZ1 Compact has a super wide angle 8-megapixel front camera that will allow you to switch between 80-degree field of view and 120-degree field of view seflies and videos.
Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact: Hardware
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage, microSD support for store expansion
- 2700mAh battery
Sony is one of Qualcomm's most loyal fans, having opted for the chipset manufacturer's latest platform in all its flagship devices over the years. The current flagship platform, as it were, is the Snapdragon 835 and as expected, both the Sony Xperia XZ1 and the XZ1 Compact feature the platform under their hoods.
Both also offer 4GB of RAM, like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and they also both come with 64GB of storage with microSD support for storage expansion. In terms of battery, both the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact come with a 2700mAh capacity which is charged via USB Type-C, supports Quick Charge and comes with Sony's Stamina mode and Qnovo's Adaptive Charging.
The Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact also both support Hi-Res audio and they come with DSEE HX technology, which will upscale tracks to near Hi-Res. There is built-in noise cancelling technology too and the front-facing speakers have been improved to bring 50 per cent more sound pressure than previous Xperia models.
Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact: Software
- Android Oreo with Sony software
- Same experience as XZ Premium
The Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact will ship with Android Oreo with Sony's software over the top, meaning they will offer an upgraded experience to the Xperia XZ Premium.
Android Oreo, the new version of Android, has been released by Google and the XZ Premium will eventually get the update but there is no word on when currently.
Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact: Release date and price
- IFA announcement
- Available to pre-order from 31 August
- Will hit shelves September 2017
Sony announced the Xperia XZ1 and the Xperia XZ1 Compact during its press conference at consumer electronics show IFA in Berlin on 31 August.
The two devices will be available to pre-order through Carphone Warehouse from 31 August, and available globally from September 2017.
Pricing has yet to be detailed but pre-orders of the Xperia XZ1 will come with a free pair of h.ear on 2 Wireless NC over ear headphones worth £250.