Getting it right on the second attempt: Sony Xperia Z1
The super smartphone Sony should have released six months ago
Are you Xperia’d?
Thankfully, Sony has given the Z1 a larger battery than the phone it replaces: a 3,000mAh unit versus the Z’s 2,330mAh. That’s enough to put the Z1 up with the very best of the competition and you can easily get between one-and-a-half and two full days of pretty intense use out of a charge.
Z1 and G2
The Z1 died just under ten hours in my usual 1080p MP4 video loop test. That’s two hours before the impressive G2 but was still much, much better than the original Z and a more than decent performance by any standard.
Like all Xperias the battery is fixed in place. That is either a good or bad thing depending on your personal preference. Granted you can’t replace it, but on the other hand the handset doesn’t disassemble itself when you drop it.
The final area where the Z1 trumps its predecessor is its loudspeaker. Despite being water tight, it’s very good. Not HTC One-good, but certainly a big step forward from the Xperia Z and Ultra and a match for the equally impressive G2.
The back – and battery — aren’t readily removable
If the body, screen and camera aren’t enough to tempt you from a default Galaxy S4 purchase there’s also the final issue that Sony’s take on Android 4.2.2 – KitKat is coming “soon” – is less overburdened by the extra features that make up Samsung’s TouchWiz launcher. The Z1 is just an easier bit of kit to get with grips with though in my book LG’s Optimus UI has them both beat. Add to that Sony's media apps, which are simply superb, and the Z1 makes for the more satisfying user experience.
As with all modern Android flagships the Z1 packs an IR blaster, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and an NFC chip. There’s also an FM radio. I have no problems to report with reception or call quality. The 4G/LTE radio has also been upgraded from the one in the Z, it’s now Cat 4 rather than 3 and supports 150Mbps downloads, should such be available. The Micro USB port meanwhile supports MHL video streaming and On-The-Go hosting out of the box.
Sony’s media apps are excellent
The Reg Verdict
The Sony Xperia Z1 introduces some very important improvements to the Z, which was a decent but not outstanding smartphone. The screen is now superb, the processor is one of the most powerful you can get in a smartphone and the camera is impressive. Add to the fact that it’s waterproof, looks altogether lovely, is built like a brick outhouse and the case could be made for it being the best smartphone in the world at the moment in time.
If I’d bought an Xperia Z six months ago, I’d be a wee bit peeved that the new Z1 is so much better, but such are the perils of buying a smartphone these days. But be that as it may, the Z1 is a very fine bit of kit and is now my personal first choice Android dog’n’bone. ®