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Sony Xperia Z1 hands-on and first impressions


Barely a fortnight after unveiling the Xperia Z1 at IFA in Berlin, Sony today launched its latest flagship smartphone in India, making India the first country in the world where it is available to buy at stores. According to the company, the Xperia Z1 is the “Best of Sony” imbibing the best technologies that Sony has to offer across its consumer electronics product portfolio. So you get the 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor along with BIONZ for mobile image processing engine from its Cyber-shot series of cameras, its Triluminous Display from Bravia televisions and a lot of content from Sony’s portfolio spanning movies, television and music arms. Sony has been trying to pull off its “One Sony” philosophy ever since it bought over Ericsson’s share in the joint venture. We spent some time with the Xperia Z at its India launch today and here are our first impressions.

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The Xperia Z1 is Sony’s third flagship smartphone this year after the Xperia Z and Xperia Z Ultra. Both devices had a lot of potential but were let down by a few compromises that Sony made. The Xperia Z had a terrible display for a high-end smartphone that had to compete against the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4. The camera was nothing worth writing home about either. The Xperia Ultra had an interesting form factor – ultra thin and a massive 6.4-inch display but had a poor camera and for some strange reason no flash. That’s something users won’t compromise on an Rs 45,000 device.

The Xperia Z1, on the other hand, feels like a completely different beast. Sony has endowed it with the best hardware possible right now with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC humming under the hood combined with 2GB of RAM. The 20.7-megapixel camera too is a class apart and judging by a few photos we have seen could give Nokia’s yet-to-be-launched Lumia 1020 a run for its money.

Sony has continued with its signature design language complete with the trademark power button. The edges are now an aluminum frame that feels classier than the plastic on the Xperia Z. Though the back still has the tempered glass like the Xperia Z, both devices feel different to hold. Gone are the sharp edges that troubled us on the Xperia Z. The 5-inch full HD display is also among some of the best we have seen.

The Xperia Z1 continues to be water and dust resistant like the other two flagship devices. It also sports 16GB of internal memory and comes with a microSD card slot.

In our minds, on paper, the Xperia Z1 is certainly the best of Sony that we have seen so far. But there are still some unknowns like the battery performance and audio quality, which we will come to know once we have reviewed the phone next week. If it’s able to live up to our expectations, we might just have the best Android smartphone on our hands.

Photos: Harshita Rastogi