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Sony Xperia XZs Review – The Original XZ, But BETTER

As a world-renowned tech brand, Sony looks to challenge the smartphone market by introducing devices with fresh innovations. Such a device includes last year’s Sony Xperia XZ that features pro-level camera features. In fact, Sony recently brought out an update to this device, the Xperia XZ Premium.  Then finally, to cap off the XZ family, they also produced the the Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra. Here, we’ll focus on the Xperia XZs,  a 5.2-inch Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 smartphone whose primary selling point lies in its 960 FPS super slow motion video feature.

Design

The Sony Xperia XZs inherits the basic design mantra of the Xperia XZ, sporting the same loop design, with rounded sides and flattened top and bottom area. This actually makes the device stand out in the sea of bezel-less phones, which in our book, is a positive.

We used an Ice Blue variant for this review, and from first-hand experience, the aesthetics look slick. On the right side of the device are the power, volume and shutter buttons. Meanwhile, the left side of the phone holds the SIM tray and micro USB port. Additionally, the dual speaker setup with one speaker stays above of the Gorilla Glass display, together with the front camera. For the back portion, we then have the rear camera and flash. Finally, the audio jack and USB Type-C port can be found on the top and at the bottom of the smartphone, respectively.

The last big design choice that, in my opinion, adds a lot of value to the XZs, lies in its IP68 certification. This means that your high-end Sony phone will not get damaged in either rain or dust. Basically, the Sony designed the Xperia XZs as a phone that you may take outdoors.

Multimedia

The Sony Xperia XZs sports a 5.2-inch IPS FHD display which may not look much on paper. However, in practice, this display impressed me, especially with vibrant colors and great contrast. This factor especially comes out when I stream videos and other multimedia.  Furthermore, the wide viewing angles allow for efficient sharing between friends and family. It’s the perfect device for Netflix marathons with the barkada. For this, we can thank the Sony-brand TRILUMINOS Display and X-Reality technology, which can also be found in Sony BRAVIA TV’s.

Audio-wise, the device might not please everyone. While the quality of the sounds are clear and crisp, and audible and good at max volumes, audio becomes hard to hear or barely audible when set below midpoint. The placement of the speakers also provided an issue as they can get blocked easily especially when playing games.

Fortunately, the dodgy audio quality and questionable speaker placement are easily forgivable. Especially when you’re busy having a great time playing mobile games. With the strong specs of the XZs, graphics come out at their best, as proven with my sessions of playing Dead Trigger 2 and Marvel: Contest of Champions. With no lag and smooth gameplay, the XZs is a go-to phone for anyone who loves gaming.

Under the Hood

The Xperia XZs runs on a 2.15 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Processor, and an Adreno 530 GPU. These parts look great and feel top-of-the line, especially with an improved 4GB of RAM. I applaud Sony for correcting their past mistake in relying on only 3GB for the XZ, which was terribly behind in comparison to competitors like Samsung and LG. The XZs, in essence, modernizes the original XZ formula by updating all the specs, including the Android 7.0 Nougat OS, straight from the box.

Camera

On paper it might look like the XZs dropped its camera quality from the XZ given the smaller 19MP rear shooter. But the camera actually feels like an improvement. The technology itself gains major upgrades, particularly the motion eye technology and the improved lowlight and digital zoom. Conversely, the front camera also nets its own StreadyShot upgrade.

When talking about the actual results produced by the XZs camera setup, you have to talk about the crisp images. This is achieved by a manual mode and an auto mode, which utilizes predictive capture technology. On the flip side, the selfies also come out well, even if the phone doesn’t have your standard Beautification features. What Sony offers instead is a soft skin feature, which basically works just like Beautification. Other modes include augmented reality and the SteadyShot modes.

Speaking of Motion Eye camera, I’d say that this acts as the XZs’ bread and butter. With SteadyShot 5-axis image stabilization, 4k-quality videos may be recorded with minimal shakes. Even better, videos may be captured in slow motion.  With ultra slow motion capture, the XZs records up to 960 frames per second super slow mo videos, a specific enough number that allows users to capture every moment. Overall, the cameras offer a multitude of features that will entertain videographers and photographers alike.  The only downside I can think of would be people who’d have to get used to Soft Skin mode, in lieu of the Beautification mode.

Connectivity

As a flagship phone, the XZs contains zero problems with connectivity.  I’d even hazard to say that it has data transfer and calls down to a science.  Not only does this dual-SIM device support WiFi, 2G, 3G, and LTE, but it also allows for Bluetooth 4.2 and USB Type-C connectivities.

Battery

The XZzs sports the same battery as its predecessor, which is sadly kinda small, at 2,900 mAh. This non-removable battery lasts about 7 hours and 10 minutes on full brightness, on a continuous video loop. While this sounds like a major problem, we did manage to have the XZs last through a whole day of use.  We were only able to do this, however, by keeping our mobile data off if we knew we wouldn’t be accessing the net. Lastly, I also had a problem with the battery getting a little too hot during extended use (especially with mobile games). All in all, this battery doesn’t really add much to the Xperia setup, but is still servicable.

Conclusion

The XZs exists as proof that Sony indeed learns from their mistakes. By improving upon the original XZ’s design and function, Sony manages to bring us a true flagship. Its design is unique and the build both emanates class and durability. The performance exceeded our initial expectations, with a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB RAM that can handle almost every mobile game out in the market.  But if none of these sell you on the Sony phone, then I guarantee you that you’ll  still fall in love with the improved camera setup, both on the main camera and the selfie shooter. Retailing at Php 35,990, the Sony Xperia XZs warrants the price tag, and basically guarantees a top-notch smartphone experience.

POSITIVES

+ Great design reminiscent of the equally-gorgeous XZ
+ Set of specs that are perfect for hardcore mobile gaming
+ The ultra slow motion recording is unmatched
+ Efficient and effective camera setup (both front and rear)

NEGATIVES

-relatively small battery life

Sony Xperia XZs Specs

OSAndroid 7.1 (Nougat)
ProcessorQualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820, Quad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo and 2x1.6 GHz Kryo)
Memory4GB
Display5.2-inch IPS LCD
StorageExpandable 32GB or 64GB on-board storage
Camera19 MP rear camera with LED flash and 13 MP front camera
SIMNano-SIM, Single or Dual
BatteryNon-removable Li-Ion 2900 mAh battery with Quick Charge
Weight161g
Dimensions146 x 72 x 8.1 mm
SensorsFingerprint (side-mounted, region dependent), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer, compass, color spectrum
ColorBlack, Warm Silver, Ice Blue

       

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  • manel rico

    My only comment for this phone is that the battery specification. I love the camera specification
    19MP/13MP (front selfies snapper)