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back to article Getting it right on the second attempt: Sony Xperia Z1

The Xperia Z has had a surprisingly short stint as the top dog of Sony’s smartphone range and has now been unceremoniously ousted by the Xperia Z1. Sony Xperia Z1 Sony’s Xperia Z1: getting it right, second time around? But the new Z1 isn’t just a cosmetic warm-over. It has a more powerful processor, a much improved screen, a …

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Paris Hilton

Zoom?

the full-zoom shot of the Hilton tower (hence the Paris angle -> ) shows that 20MP is a simple waste of storage, it's useless at that size. A _good_ 8MP camera is enough for a phone, all the Lumia 41MP trickery nonwithstanding (there it's mostly a basis for noise-reducing oversampling)

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Re: Zoom?

I generally agree. The biggest advantage of a high resolution snapper is the ability to incorporate better digital zoom. Set it to 8MP and you end up with about 2.5x zoom without loss of quality (as it effectively crops the 20MP image down to 8MP rather than down-sampling it. At 20MP though, all it does is fill your storage up quicker.

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Re: Zoom?

Digital zoom and oversampling are brilliant reasons for a high-megapixel camera.

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HMB
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Re: Zoom?

Did you just criticise it for having a high megapixel count and then say that you understood why the Lumia has a high megapixel count?

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Re: Zoom?

@HMB, the Lumia uses the high megapixel count expressly in conjunction with oversampling to reduce noise. It doesn't keep the hi res image and the oversampling noise reduction process is built into hardware and the 41 MP CCD and image capture process is optimised for a ISO capture rating you wouldn't attempt without the built in oversampling strategy. So they are "happy" for there to be a level of noise at 41 mega pixels in order to enable faster shutter speed in low light, and the lower res image is cleaned up so has, compared with similar resolution camera phones (e.g. the cleaned up lower res image), there is less noise. It's a clever strategy.

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Bigger not always better

Great screen, at a cost of weight and size, so when does a phone get so big it becomes less pocketable and more unwieldy.

Sony tend to produce products designed by a committee, in this case they haven't deviated from their rule.

Hands up more mega pixels, hands up bigger screen, hands up...... They just are not products that are pretty anymore.

Why on earth are they going down the mine has got more mega pixels than yours, which reminds me of the old processor wars of yesteryear. As to benchmarks, I'm not convinced that there isn't a hidden bit of code in there that benefits it in someway.

Also with all Sony products, they fail to update software when a new product replaces an old one, they forget they have a responsibility to the customer. Maybe that's why they are struggling against the competition.

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Re: Bigger not always better

@LarsG

Behave.

Sony do update phones. My 2012 Xperia has been updated to ICS, and then again to Jelly Bean, with a smaller update after that. Not only that, but XDA consider them the friendliest vendor for custom ROMs.

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Re: Zoom?

Exactly. This is why I don't agree with the "I don’t know about you, but if I’d bought a phone with a 20.7MP camera I’d like to set that as the permanent default." comment in the article. Surely when you take a picture at 8MP it is still using all 21MP for noise reduction.

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Re: Bigger not always better

I purchased my Z1 at the start of October, and since then, Sony have released 2 software updates (not Android OS kernel updates, just their own software layer). In comparison, in the 2 years I owned my Galaxy S2, Samsung only released one software update, and no Android updates. So I don't agree with your comment about Sony's software releases.

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Re: Bigger not always better

the s2 started on gingerbread, then got ICS and is now on jelly bean.

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pdf

I nearly pulled the trigger on this phone, but for two things:

1) The added bezel surface area, and squared-off corners make this significantly less comfortable than other 5" phones, and I don't have small hands - it'd be a serious problem for someone that does.

2) The screen. Whilst it may be an improvement over the previous generation, it's still really quite terrible. Because the device is large, even a relatively minor tilt of the device adds enough angle to the top of the screen to start losing contrast and colour, thanks to the still absolutely appalling viewing angles. This was really the clincher for me.

I am hanging out for Sony to finally get the Z1s announced and shipping - it's expected to have essentially the same specs in a 4.3" screen device, with the only sacrifice being battery capacity (obviously, with the smaller chassis), but this will hopefully be offset by lower power requirements for the smaller screen. Not only that, but if video of the Japanese variant (the Z1f) is anything to go by, the 720p screen is phenomenally better than display in the Z1. Fingers crossed.

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I nearly pulled the trigger on this phone

Do what?

I thought you meant "I nearly bought myself this phone" but then point 1 is about it being awkward to use for people with smaller hands than you. So what do you mean?

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Have you actually tried the Z1 ?

I keep reading negative reviews about the screen contrast and poor viewing angles, but I don't find this an issue at all - I think people are talking themselves out of buying this device without really do anything research, and I can't work out why ? I guess it's their loss at the end of the day.

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I got one of these last week to replace a Sony Ericisson Xperia.

So far I'm astounded at how good a phone it is, downloads are fast, it's not crashed on me (yet) and everything seems to work fine.

Battery life is pretty good to, much better than I was expecting.

On the downside, it is a bit large, it's easy to accidentally lock the screen as the unlock/lock button is where you put your fingers on the right hand side. The other thing is get a case, it's a bit slippery so I can see there being lots of these being dropped and broken.

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This is one of my disagreements with the "plastic cases are cheap and nasty" comments. Plastics are often exactly the right thing for a device's casing, both to improve grip and protect if the thing is dropped. I've tried metal and glass phones, and they feel too slippery and insecure in my paw, and it strikes me that when they fall, the screen will be broken because the its nothing to absorb the shock.

Whilst I usually put my phones in some sort of case, I don't want to be effectively forced into it by the basic design of the phone.

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Anonymous Coward

My Z1 experiences...

I've owned this phone for around a month, since the date of its release anyway - coming from a Galaxy S3 this was a leap of faith... i've never owned a Sony product in my life save for a largely unused PS3 hack toy..

The waterproof works exactly as advertised, i've used this phone in the bath and shower, dunked it in many bowls of water at work (a colleague with the Z was too scared to ever try this!) and scared the bejesus out of my poor mother doing the washing up by "accidentally" dropping my fancy new phone in the bowl - this feature alone is worth the price of admission.

Performance is stunning, this is the fastest Android device i've ever personally had the experience of.. sure the G2 and a couple of others may beat it on paper - but i'd be shocked if you noticed, this thing is a powerhouse.

Battery is similarly good...i've never had it crap out on my like my S3 could occasionally do with heavy use.. in fact i've very rarely seen this phone anywhere near 10%!

Ok, enough Sony felating...the screen.. now the reviewer seems to think the screen is something special. And it pains me to say this but if screens are your thing buy any other flagship over this. For my usage model the screen is terrible sometimes... and it is all down to viewing angles.. sharp viewing angles make this display unusuable - not a problem you say? Ever have your phone on your desk, hear the notification and just glace to see what it's about? I did! Not with my Z1 though, physically picking it up and looking at it is the only way to do this.

I do love this amazing phone - but Sony need to really work on their screen tech as to me this is only just better than the original Z and nothing like the screen on the S4, G2, HTC One or Nexus 5..

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Never buying SONY again

I will never buy another SONY product for one reason. The customer service is appauling. I have an Xperia Z, and I use the term 'have' loosely, as it is STILL being repaired by a company called SBE LTD who SONY use as their repair provider. It has been with SBE for 5 MONTHS! I first had a two month battle with SONY to admit the screen/battery on the Xperia Z was faulty as it cracked on its own (the phone was sat on my desk as the screen cracked) This has been well documented online (just google it!). So after a two month battle trying to get them to admit they were at fault it's now been another 3 months that apparently they have been waiting for parts that aren't available in the UK. For this reason I will never purchase another phone from SONY. It's just not been worth the hassle.

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Re: Never buying SONY again

Me neither due to what they did with never fixing the Xperia Play manufacturing defects or upgrading the OS to ICS.

They are going back to their old everything proprietary rip off the customer stuff in other areas as well.

The company ethos is never fix anything if at all possible. (Early PS3's were just as bad as the early xbox 360's but they just lied about it and refused to fix anything. Board reflow is always a manufacturing defect regardless of when it needs to be done if it is done right in the fist place it is never necessary)

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Re: Never buying SONY again

They are also implying these things are robust.

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Re: Never buying SONY again

I have an Xperia tablet from work. Connecting a Bluetooth keyboard kills thw WiFi dead.

Sony have /never/ replied to reports, emails, posts on their own forums or on farcebuk. I have tried to telephone both them and O2 and had no responses.

Buggerem. Sideways. With a rotating pineapple.

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Re: Never buying SONY again

Likewise. I've an Xperia T. That's the phone with the 13mp camera which compresses images down to 2.5mb jpegs full of compression artifacts and noise. And no option to control the compression factor. And the phone which chews through sd cards. And the phone which can no longer tether since the upgrade to Jellybean. All of these issues could be fixed by Sony, but they're too busy pumping out the next flagship phone to bother fixing issues in previous phones. I used to be a Sony fan, but ditched them quite a few years ago. The Xperia T is without a shadow of a doubt the last Sony phone I will ever buy.

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Re: Never buying SONY again

@Deaths Pirate, sorry to hear about the hassles but to be honest that could happen with virtually any of the "brands" at the moment. It shouldn't but it does and because it does companies like Apple are able to charge a premium for services like "AppleCare" which provide the peace of mind that your statutory rights should give you. My advice is to threaten whoever you're talking to with the Small Claims court and that should improve the service noticeably.

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Headmaster

Re: Never buying SONY again

@Deaths Pirate - Your experience with Sony was truly appauling. And also a bit appalling.

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Re: Never buying SONY again

Have not bought a single thing from them since rootkit...

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Re: Never buying SONY again

Yes, fair point. In my defense it WAS a Monday! ;)

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Nothing to challenge a Note 3 I'm pleased to report. I'm still loving my 4K video mode thanks.

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Viewing angles and PhotoSphere

I've read elsewhere about viewing angles being poor but it sounds like a pretty nasty issue given how good everything else is and that's a shame. I was considering this as a potential upgrade option but as I have about 4 months left I think given the downsides I can wait.

PhotoSphere is limited to Nexus devices and unless / until Google announce it being available to all I don't see the point of mentioning it in phone reviews. I've owned a Nexus 4 nearly a year and I haven't used it once.

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Physical buttons

I think the previous model had 'proper' home, back etc buttons but it looks like with this upgrade those have gone, to be replaced by on-screen buttons - is that correct?

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Re: Physical buttons

Nope, the control layout, three capacitive buttons on the front, is the same as the Xperia Z and Xperia Z Ultra.

As for viewing angles, OK, they are not as robust as the very best - the HTC One in my opinion - but they are far from "terrible" and certainly not a reason to avoid buying a Z1.

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My Z is great

So there !

Screen is good and there are no problems with the viewing angle. I wouldn't mind a headphone socket with no flappy cover though.

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Wam

"There’s also an FM radio"

Call me old-fashioned, but the lack of radio is what's putting me off a Galaxy S4 as my next phone

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Re: There’s also an FM radio

And it can also make and receive voice calls, unbelievable!

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Show of hands, who here has actually _used_ the fm radio on their phone?

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I use the FM radio on my phone from time to time. I wish it had a sleep timer though, so that falling asleep with it on doesn't deplete the battery fully.

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Show of hands

Hands, it's relaxing on the train listening to the radio on my S2. I'm currently trying to decide what phone to get next but nothing is really screaming out. Z1 and Nexus 5 are on my possibles list.

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Anonymous Coward

I use the FM radio in my Note 2.

Oh and it does have a timer, and it records, nice app.

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@Alan Brown: I've never listened to a phone's FM radio. I do occasionally listen to radio from other countries via the magic of the internet... on my phone.

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Lossless zoom?

Do the Z1 got a lossless 8x digital zoom? Can anyone confirm it?

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Got one of these a month ago.

In my opinion it is the best smart phone in the world right now. Pair it with the new Smart Watch and it's incredible.

My only gripe is that if you buy the Sony approved hard shell cover and the genuine Sony magnetic dock DK31, the phone won't fit into the dock with the cover on using the supplied adapter as stated on Sony's website.

That for me is an EPIC FAIL !

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I was looking at this and thinking hmmm looks nice, nice specs, good review, then it hit me, I remembered the grief I had with a Sony laptop, trying to get a replacement keyboard (user wanted white keys on a black laptop - god knows why)

They did the exact same model in silver with white keys, so you'd think that phoning up with the part number and asking for it in white would be a simple process - ahahahahahh no.

After much bandying around from department to department, manager to manager and absolutely hours on hold, days waiting on call backs, USELESS customer support I got no where and told them to shove it and told them that no Sony hardware would ever cross my palms again. That also reminds me I need to cancel my pre-ordered PS4!

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we have similar problems at $orkplace. Sony has been on the "do not buy" list for years, but the buying clerks refuse to arfgue with senior staff who want shiny vaios.

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Hmm - but!

There again:

http://www.idealworld.tv/_295465.aspx

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Anonymous Coward

Making waterproof their own

They realise that people carry and use phones when it is raining, let alone anything more extreme, starting with puddles and toilet bowls. Good for them. When will the others catch up?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Making waterproof their own

Sonim called, they want their USP back.

My wife had one for years. Several of her clients regularly dropped phones in toilets (plumbers), slurry (farmers) or puddles (garage owners), but it never occurred to them to get a shockproof, waterproof phone because, when the inevitable happened, they would just blag a new one off the carrier.

Hers survived several dog-induced mud intersections until the internal charging circuit died after 7 years and I was finally able to persuade her to have something that could send emails.

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Re: Making waterproof their own

As others have commented, most Japanese domestic phones are waterproof. It's not a USP there, it's a standard feature.

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Re: Making waterproof their own

The Samsung S4 Active is also waterproof, but apparently hard to find as part of a UK tariff.

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Anonymous Coward

Waterproof: Yes, I know it is not unique.

In fact my Motorola Defy+ is supposes to be waterproof, though I have never quite believed in the badly-fitting USB cover. Still, it should survive being taken out in a shower at least.

I did not know that about Japan. What good sense they have!

all phones should be at least water-resistant. And tough enough to take a tumble.

One reason why not might be the popularity of the reason to refuse warranty cover: "You got it wet."

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Between the lines

Apart from the pictures of "home" I like Alun's down-to-earth reviews. Yes, it mixes and matches tech trivia with extremely subjective values judgments: it's more substantial (heavy) which makes it of better quality. But it also concentrates on actually using the damn thing to do stuff.

However, what interested me most about this review was one of the bits of tech trivia:

Once again like the Xperia Z, the Z1 has a quad-core processor, but it has been bumped up from 1.5GHz to 2.2GHz making it one of the highest spec smartphones money can buy.

That is an amazing leap (~ 50 %) in 6 months and you can really start to see why Intel is worried. If the ARM <insert-pun-here> is able to bump speed and/or cores at that rate on a regular basis then Intel will have no business at all in 5 years.

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Re: Between the lines

The Anandtech review of the LG G2, which share the same chipset according to this review, suggests the chipset is responsible for a good bit of the extended battery life.

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IR Blaster...

Really???

Does it REALLY REALLY???

Mine doesn't have one for sure :/

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