Review: Sony XZ Premium smartphone

Sony's new 5.5-inch XZ Premium costs $1199.

Sony's new 5.5-inch XZ Premium costs $1199.

Smartphone design has become boring recently, with most phones having rounded corners and a black or grey finish.

Sony's new 5.5-inch XZ Premium, which recently went on sale in New Zealand for $1199, bucks the trend with a square look and lots of chrome.

It really stands out and will likely appeal to anyone who likes their devices to have a bit of bling.

However, it faces stiff competition at the moment as a slew of high-end Android devices hit the market.

Other than its chrome finish, its other key features include super-slow motion video recording and a 4K screen.

CAMERA

​Sony makes some of the best cameras in the world, so I'd expect its phones to be able to take great images.

The 19MP camera on the XZ is excellent. It's quick and it's of high enough quality that you can take photos with bokeh (a blurred background), similar to how DSLR cameras work.

It's also got a slo-mo video feature that's neat if you've got a pet or children. You can capture cool videos at  960 frames per second which means the footage can be slowed down while still looking sharp and clear.

But while it's fun, it has limited use. Other high-end phones also have similar features.

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The only criticism of the camera app is that switching from photos to video is a bit fiddly. The icons are a wee bit small. 

Also, the cameras don't have optical image stabilisation, which many other high-end phones now feature.

SOFTWARE

The phone uses Android 7.1 (Nougat), which was recently replaced by Android 8 (Oreo). 

It's not clear when Sony will update its phones but it should take at least a few months.

Android users will find the interface familiar and Sony's additions to the operating software are minimal.

THE SCREEN

The XZ has a 4K and HDR capable screen. This means it has more pixels and produces more realistic colours.

The main benefit of this is that can watch 4K and HDR movies and shows available on Netflix. 

However, most of what you usually watch will be in high definition so you need to weigh up if that feature is worth the money.

OTHER FEATURES

It has 64GB storage which is plenty for most people but if you want more it can be expanded up to 256GB.

The 3230mAh battery easily lasted a day but since the XZ design is bulkier than some of its rivals it would've been nice to have a larger, longer-lasting battery which may have given it an edge over rivals.

ALTERNATIVES

There are so many Android devices to choose from at the moment. Samsung has the Galaxy S8 (5.8-inch, $1299), Huawei has the P10 ($999) and P10 Plus ($1199), while two new brands in New Zealand, Oppo and OnePlus, are offering high-end phones with more affordable prices.

As with any expensive gadget purchase, it's best to shop around and, if possible, get your hands on a device before deciding what to buy.

VERDICT

The XV Premium is a good looking smartphone for anyone who wants their device to take high-quality photos.

While it's hard to fault the phone, it's also hard for it to stand out from its competitors. There are no bad phones when you spend more than $1000.

I think the best feature is its unique design, and it'll be its looks that makes it appealing to anyone looking for a new high-end phone.

SPECIFICATIONS

5.5-inch display
19MP rear camera
13MP front camera
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
3230mAh battery
Fingerprint scanner
4GB RAM
64GB storage

 - Stuff

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