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Sony Xperia Z1 Preview: Hands On With Sony's Latest Flagship Smartphone (PICTURES)

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The Sony Xperia Z1 is the latest flagship smartphone from the Japanese tech giant. It will be released later this autumn on a variety of high-end tariffs.

Key Features:

  • 5-inch 1080P screen
  • Quad-core 2.3 GHz processor
  • Andorid 4.2.2
  • Water resistant
  • 20.7-megapixel camera
  • 16GB of internal storage (with microSD slot)
  • 3,000 mAh battery

The Pitch:

"The elegant, 5” Xperia Z1 is the latest addition to Sony’s premium Z series of products and brings Sony’s proven world-class technologies to the smartphone like never before – including the very best of Sony’s camera expertise."

sony xperia z1

Impressions:

The Sony Xperia Z1 is superior in virtually every respect to the Xperia Z - a phone which we really liked for its waterproof casing, nicely tuned Android OS, decent camera and stark industrial looks.

Most obviously, the Z1 has a much better metal case which retains the waterproof USP, but takes away the annoying headphone socket cover, reinforces the all-too breakable charger port cover and adds a nice sense of curvature to the blocky form of the original. We're still not sold on purple as a third colour choice, but in white and black the phone is a lovely looking device.

The basics of the Xperia Z have all been refined upwards on the Z1, including the processor (Snapdragaon 800, 2.2GHz CPU), but the camera's bump to 20 megapixels is most impressive. Technically Sony informs us that it's been bumped to a large 1/2.3-type 20.7MP “Exmor RS for mobile” CMOS image sensor and “BIONZ for mobile” image processing engine.

In practice that means basically that the camera is better. Its ability to take 60 photos in two seconds in burst mode - including 30 before you pressed the shutter button - is a particularly useful improvement.

Sony's other software additions to its imaging app, such as AR photos, are nice too - if a bit gimmicky.

In software terms the Xperia Z1 is also identical to the Z, and retains the ability to place apps in folders on the app launcher screen - a personal favourite of ours - as well as the neat homepage unlock animations and other baubles. The ability to use the phone with Sony's add-on lenses and SmartWatch 2 accessory via 'One Touch' NFC setup will also be attractive to many.

The Xperia Z1 doesn't seem like an enormous step up from the original, truth be told - it's an evolution of a solid predecessor. But it's obvious that Sony is getting better, quickly, at making flagship phones. With a few more software and hardware advances it will be challenge for the top spot.

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