When I was contacted on the opportunity to test out and review the Sony Xperia Z1, I took it up because I heard a lot about the phone and wanted to try it out for myself. When it comes to Android phones – there are a few brands that really come to mind: HTC, Samsung, (maybe Nokia), and of course Sony (making a comeback oh yeah!).
By the way, I used to own a Sony Ericsson W810i walkman phone back in the day – and that was already one of the ‘best music phones’ of the time. I really loved it! Of course smartphones came along and it seemed that Sony was never in the competition among smartphones – maybe now it is?
Unboxing the Xperia Z1
The first thing that struck me was how slim the Sony Xperia Z1 was. I did expect a bit of bulk given the fact that the phone has an eyebrow-raising 20.7MP camera – yes 20.7MP, one of highest in the market right now. To give you some context, my Canon 600D DSLR is only 18MP.
Okay so without going into each and every detail of the phone, I’m going to test a couple of its standout points: the waterproofing, the grip, and the software performance. For that, I’ll put it up against three tests.
#1: The waterproof test
At the risk of being charged for damaging the review unit phone, I decided to put the Xperia Z1’s waterproof feature to the test. First, I had to be sure to close the rubberised panels for the charger, MicroSD, and SIM card ports. I filled a normal container with water up to about 4 cm deep, and put the Xperia Z1 in for five minutes. I even played with the phone (or tried to) underwater.
Nice! After taking out the phone, it still works like a charm. I’ve heard of horror stories of phones being dropped into toilet bowls or being damaged by the rain – so this is a really handy feature to ensure your phone can last a long time. I didn’t manage to bring it swimming with me, but apparently it works at the pool too, and even in a bowl of chocolate sauce. It’s recommended though that the Xperia Z1 be kept away from salt water, chemicals, and sand or mud.
One thing that really irked me out though, was that I was unable to press any of the icons on the touchscreen with my wet fingers – so you can forget about playing Candy Crush underwater. Instead, the phone has a shutter button for the camera to take photos in various conditions, including when taking photos in the water. I suppose if you’re taking a video underwater, you have to switch on the video mode with dry fingers first. Doesn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Verdict: Passes the waterproof test, but fails on the usability underwater test (unless all you’re doing is taking photos).
#2: The grip test
I took the Xperia Z1 out of the water and immediately tried flinging it around wildly with my wet hands. The beautiful thing is that it did not slip at all from my hands, thanks to the grooves on the sides of the phone. The sides are also made of aluminum, which though were rather cool to the touch, had a non-slip feel to it.
The Xperia Z1 feels big and wide, and also rather tall as well though it does balance pretty nicely in my hand. It’s also cool to the touch with a glass back and front. That kind of confuses me sometimes though because it takes a while to get used to knowing which way to hold it up. Check out the photos to see what I mean.
Verdict: I tend to drop my phone by accident – a lot! The size of the Xperia Z1 actually helps me had a better grip on the phone to reduce the risk of accidents. I like this feature.
#3: The performance test
For the Android noobs (like myself) switching to another OS would be a significant commitment. Android-aside, I wanted to look at the features of the phone itself in terms of music, photos, supporting apps, etc.
- Speakers: Not that excellent really. The volume (even at its loudest) its not as loud as some other phones, and the audio quality is sub-par.
- Screen clarity: Top notch, reaching 441 ppi and still supports Full HD 1080p resolution. Very beautiful colours on screen, even while I’m using it in the sun.
- Typing: You can switch on the vibrate function which pulses as you type. Smooth typing experience, but the only downside here is that you can never type with one hand as you won’t be able to reach all the buttons!
- Camera: Really nice 20.7MP clarity and many great in-built functions like time-shift, Social live (sharing video feed live on Facebook) and AR effect. I find the Manual function very handy for the more serious photographers. See some of the awesome photos taken with the Xperia Z1.
- Battery life: Lasts the whole day on a full charge, but I use it mostly for calls and surfing (minimal use).
- Native Sony apps: WALKMAN, TrackID, Explore, PlayMemories Mobile, and more.
Verdict: The Sony Xperia Z1 is a great Android phone. If you’re big on photography, the camera is the real winner here among different smartphones in the market. There were no real lags or bugs as I was using the phone, so overall it’s a solid performance.
I’ve been an iPhone user for a couple of years so why should I care about the Sony Xperia Z1? Because playing with it for the past weeks has really made me feel the itch to consider a switch. If you want a great Android phone, this is among my top list of recommendations.
Thanks team at Cozycot for allowing me to loan the phone for this review.