Once a force to be reckoned with, Sony’s mobile division has been consolidating its product lines to focus on just the Xperia X series, which debuted at last year’s MWC. The new series caters mainly to the upper mid-range to high-end smartphone segment, which Sony is trying to capture once again.
Enter the Sony Xperia XZs, a refreshed version the Xperia XZ (Review) for 2017, which promises a much better photography experience. Priced at Rs. 49,990, it takes the top spot in Sony's lineup, with last year's model recently getting a price cut to make way for it. The biggest change in this year’s offering is Sony's new Motion Eye camera system, which essentially shrinks the technology found in its digital cameras such as the Cyber-shot RX10 III to fit inside a smartphone.
While this all sounds terribly exciting, what we’re really keen to see is whether Sony has managed to deal with the problem of overheating that has affected some of its flagship devices over the past couple of years. If that is taken care of, perhaps Sony can become a serious contender again.
It has been less than six months since Sony launched the Xperia XZ, so understandably, the design is pretty much identical to what we’ve already seen. The phone feels great to hold and there aren’t any sharp edges anywhere. It does have a pretty big chin below the screen, which gets in the way of one-handed use at times. There is a speaker at the bottom of the front, which, when coupled with the earpiece, produces a nice stereo effect when you're looking at the phone.
The 5.2-inch full-HD display on the Sony Xperia XZs looks great and has good viewing angles as well as colour saturation. Sony offers various colour profiles including a mode called X-Reality for Mobile, and you even get the option to adjust the white balance of the screen. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass. Oddly, thumbnails of photos in the Gallery app appear highly oversaturated. When you tap to expand them, it takes a few moments for the phone to load the actual photo, where the colours look much more realistic.
There’s a USB Type-C port on the bottom of the phone, and a 3.5mm headphones socket on the top. All the buttons are on the right. The volume rocker is placed well and we also have a dedicated camera shutter button, something that has been a constant on Sony phones for a long time.
The blockish design of the Sony Xperia XZs feels a little uncomfortable in the pockets of some jeans, but other than this, it’s not bad. It offers a very reassuring grip and isn’t slippery despite the smooth texture to the metal. Sony is still sticking to its idea of having a fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button on the side, and it can be a little inconvenient to reach if you’re holding the phone in any way other than with a thumb or forefinger near the button.
The hybrid dual-SIM tray is on the left side of the Sony Xperia XZs, covered by a flap that seals the phone against dust and water ingress. We’re glad to see the SIM tray attached to the flap, making it quite easy to swap out a second SIM for a microSD card (up to 256GB) if needed. One annoyance here though is that every time you open the tray or even switch from one SIM to the other for data, the phone needs to reboot itself.
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