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Sony Xperia Z1 review

The next level of Sony's Android ambitions or a needless mid-cycle vanity upgrade?

Our Verdict

It's a Range Rover for the school run. A gold toilet seat. Having all the sport and film channels on a telly in the shed. You'll feel awesome with one in your pocket, but for an all-round device, it feels like Sony has dropped the ball on design and screen technology and gambled too hard on camera - a move that didn't pay off fully.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 16 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 20.7 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 14 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1920 x 1080
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Good battery life
  • Waterproof
  • Some clever Sony additions

Against

  • Loads of Sony bloatware
  • Disappointing indoor photos
  • Erratic screen technology

Battery life

The Sony Xperia Z1 comes with a 3000mAh capacity battery, which compares favourably to the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.

Sony says you ought to get up to 880 hours of standby time and 110 hours of talk time, but those figures assume it's sitting there unused in a sock drawer for the time period.

Sony Xperia Z1 review

In terms of actual meaningful use, I found the Z1 was easily good for a whole day of use and then some, with my review days including stacks of camera work, lots of tweeting and having the email app set to check for new messages every 30 minutes.

Sony's power-saving features don't amount to much more than turning everything off when the battery reaches a (user definable) level, but there are some useful power-saving tips that pop up in the Notifications field.

For example, the Xperia Z1 told me the Dropbox app was stopping the phone's Stamina energy-saving tool from deactivating Wi-Fi when the screen was turned off, which is a useful thing to know and might help to genuinely improve power management.

I found it possible to get through a day of heavy use, plus the standard TechRadar video file – a 90-minute clip played with the display at full brightness – reduced the Xperia Z1's battery from a 100% full charge to 81% remaining. It'd do you for even the longest commute.

Connectivity

Wireless connectivity is represented well in the Z1, with it supporting the new LTE or 4G bands, plus 3G HSDPA maxes out at a theoretical 42Mbps, should Three have positioned a phone mast at the end of your garden.

Sharing video is one of Sony's key boasts for the Z1, with it able to 'Throw' footage to other devices. In practice, this means going through the cumbersome process of discovering and pairing the Z1 with another device, a process so tedious that the moment will surely have passed before the video or image can be shared.

It also supports DLNA, which is a little easier to manage, plus screen mirroring through a select few devices that support Wi-Fi Direct connections.

Which are all lovely ideas, all pretty awkward in execution and unlikely to be used much.

And in an example of another area where Sony and Google's services overlap is in the phone location department. Heading to My Xperia lets you track your mobile, set its alarm off, lock it down and even perform a full remote erase, mirroring the features of Google's own Android Device Manager.

Sony really ought to have a meeting with Google before it makes the Xperia Z2. It'd save it an awful lot of effort.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyXperia Z1
Cellular Generation3.9G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution20.7 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD, microSD Extended Capacity (microSDXC)
Phone StyleBar
ColourWhite
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSony Mobile
Battery Talk Time14 Hour
Product ModelC6902
Screen Size12.7 cm (5")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)169 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.2 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log
Pixel Density441 ppi
Height144.4 mm
Width73.9 mm
Depth8.5 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NameXperia Z1 C6902 Smartphone
Processor Speed2.20 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineXperia Z1
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part Number1276-8728
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing InformationThe quality and performance of a compact digital camera

Xperia Z1 is built with the very same components as Sony's compact digital cameras meaning it really is the best smartphone for capturing images. Xperia Z1 combines a large 1/2.3" 20.7MP Exmor RS™ for mobile image sensor, Sony's award-winning G Lens and intelligent BIONZ™ for mobile image processing engine. We've also included Superior Auto, allowing you to get the best from these technologies without having to worry about camera settings. The result? The most stellar pictures you can imagine. And thanks to SteadyShot™, you can shoot beautifully smooth and stable videos too.

Broadcast the moment as it happens with Social live

Social live lets you broadcast every precious moment as it happens live via Facebook. Get your friend's response right on the screen. Keep the conversation going, all in real-time, and go beyond image-making as you know it.