Sony Xperia Z1: Best of both worlds

What happens when a company like Sony, decides to merge its two specialisations — a quality camera and a popular smartphone — into one product? The result could either be a disaster or the perfect syncing of two. The Xperia Z1 manages to nearly achieve the latter.

Style and design: For a smartphone with a 5-inch display, the Z1 is sleek, and fits well in your pocket. We liked how the screen and the back panel merge into the body. The keys are placed right, and easy to operate.

Display and user interface: The Xperia Z1 has an impressive 5-inch TFT screen with a resolution of 1080x1776 and a density of 480dpi, offering crystal clear display. The multi-touch works great. Although, the Z1 uses Jelly Bean 4.2; a customised user interface by Sony, makes up for it. There’s a new home screen, a different set of widgets, and an app menu that is divided into three separate screens with a sliding menu on the right to manage your apps.

Camera: Simply put, it’s great. This isn't because of the 20.7 MP tag, but because we saw the camera in action. Whether it is creating a video (it can record 1080p) or clicking photos, thanks to the G Lens, its competent CMOS sensor and the large F2.0 aperture, the clarity and colour reproduction is always impressive. Though, pictures in low-light conditions are grainy in auto mode, the manual mode gives better results. The front camera, 2.1 MP is also good.

Battery: The 3000 mAh battery is better than we have seen in any Android smartphone, and with normal usage including around 3 hours of browsing and 2 hours of talktime, it could easily last for 24 hours.

Handling: The Xperia Z1 is dust and waterproof upto 1.5 metres. We put the phone under a running tap, and it survived, which means you can relax even if it falls in a bucket or even the sea .

Performance and connectivity: The Z1 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800, a 2.2 GHz quadcore processor and Adreno 300 GPU, making it an opt choice for mobile gaming. The Z1 packs a punch with a 2GB RAM and internal storage of 16GB (12 GB available for usage). But what makes even smarter is options like Screen Mirroring, which enables you to show the screen of your phone on a TV, NFC and apps like Social Live, which allows you to uplink videos live to Facebook. Overall, the Z1 offers great balance between a camera phone and a smartphone. Unfortunately, though, it feels like a glass slab, and if you aren’t careful, it might slip out of your hands.

Available at major electronic stores.

What we didn’t like
>Absence of Auto Exposure or Auto Focus lock.
>Lack of smooth zoom.
>Pictures are grainy in low-light conditions.
>The glass back panel makes it susceptible to it being shattered, when dropped accidentally.
>Despite the presence of a shatter and scratch protector, you will still need a screen guard to protect the screen.
>Most premium services that make the Xperia Z1 a prize catch like Video Unlimited and Track ID aren’t available in India.
>Continuation of flaps for its ports, risking exposure to dust and water, if they tear out during use.

Quick specs
CPU: Snapdragon 800 2.2 GHz quadcore
Memory: 16 Gb; 2 GB RAM
Camera: 20.7 MP (rear), 2.1 MP (front)
Display: 5-inch TFT, 1080x1776, 480dpi
Operating System: jelly Bean 4.2.2
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wifi, 3G, NFC
PRICE: R44,990 

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