Sony Xperia Z1: High on performance

As far as the specifications race is concerned, with the Xperia Z1, Sony has firmly secured a place at the pole position by adopting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processors. On paper at least, it is currently the most powerful smartphone available in India. Apart from what it packs internally, the phone’s distinguishing feature is that it is essentially the Xperia Z’s form factor, with the power of the Xperia Z Ultra.

The Z1 carries forward the design theme that started with the Xperia Z. You have the slab-like design, with the glass at the back. The water and dust resistance ratings mean the ports and slots get the similar looking flap covers. It’s still fairly slim, at just under 9mm, but the glass and the metal frame adds to the weight, tipping the scales at 170g.

Up front is the 5-inch display, but nothing else to distract you because the usual touch sensitive controls are integrated into the UI itself. While the dimensions of the Z1 are much more in control when compared to the Z Ultra, the phone still retains the slippery nature of its predecessors, thanks to the glass at the back. It’s interesting to note that the Z1 has a slightly bigger footprint than the Xperia Z, but that can be attributed to Sony packing in a bigger battery and the better camera hardware.

The Xperia Z was one of the first phones to sport a Full HD display, and the Z1 builds on that. The Triluminos display technology brings movies to life with colours that are more vibrant and greater detail. Not surprisingly, text rendering has seen an improvement as well, which is something we are very thankful about. The reflective screen is a dampener if you don’t have auto-brightness setting turned on.

In terms of performance we’re happy to report that the specs translate brilliantly into the real world usage scenarios with apps opening instantaneously, and the background app load not bothering us one bit. As a primary smartphone, it’s interesting to note that the Z1 never felt sluggish.

Being a phone that packs in so much power, there is the inevitable heating issue that potential buyers must be willing to get used to. Use the camera to take around 10-12 shots, or the web browser for five minutes and the back heats up considerably. Battery life from the massive 3000mAh pack is quite good. With the Stamina Mode turned on, it can easily last from 8 am full charge one day till 3:30 pm the next day, as a primary phone with calls, mails, messages and IM.

Stamina Mode is an interesting feature that allows you to set which applications can use data connectivity when the phone is in stand-by mode. For example, if you only want the Gmail client and Facebook to refresh and not have the other apps consume data and battery polling for fresh updates, you can easily do that with this feature.

With the camera, the only way to get maximum resolution out of the Xperia Z1 is by switching the shooting mode to manual, something many users may not be comfortable with. But overall the camera is fairly competent.

Now for the big question: should you buy it? The Z1 has quite a few things going for it. As the successor to the Xperia Z it carries on with almost the same design tone, the water and dust resistance capabilities, but improves on the display, battery life and to a certain extent, the camera as well. It does cost a lot of money, which may make the potential customer think about the investment, but for connoisseurs of performance this is the choice to make over competitors such as the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4.

>> Elegant design
>> Excellent performance
>> Camera at 20MP does fairly well
>> Much improved battery life with Stamina Mode
>> Sony’s new UI is quite nice
>> Glass back is prone to scratches
>> Camera auto modes restrict aspect ratio and megapixels
>> For a 5-inch screen, the phone is too tall

Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core processor
Display: 5.0-inch Triluminos display (1920 x 1080 pixels)
Storage: 16 GB storage (expandable via microSD card)
OS: Android 4.2.
Battery: 3000mAh
Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE
Camera: 16.0-megapixel camera with 10X optical zoom
Price: Rs 44,990 

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