The day before IFA starts, Sony has revealed its new flagship smartphones for 2017: the Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact. The phones are essentially the same, however they come in two different sizes, hence the Compact branding.
For starters, the designs of Sony’s latest Xperia phones haven’t really changed. It looks a bit more refined at least in these images, but the same chunky bezels and boxy aesthetics make the phones look plain dated. This is unfortunate since most flagship phones are gearing towards bezel-free designs and larger screens in smaller bodies (like the new LG V30). Sony will be Sony, but let’s at least hope they do something to make their phones not look like they’re straight out of 2014 next year.
As for specs, the new Xperias share these internals:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
- 4GB RAM
- Dual SIM slots
- microSD card slot
- 2700mAh battery
- Android 8.0 Oreo
- IP68 certification
Regarding the differences, the Xperia XZ1 ships with a 5.2-inch 1080p HDR-enabled display while the XZ1 Compact has a 4.6-inch 720p screen. The former ships with 64GB of internal storage, and the latter has half of that. Sony touts the latter as being one of the last flagship compact smartphones and the only compact smartphone to come with a Snapdragon 835.
Besides all of that, what Sony really wants you to focus on (no un intended) is the camera. On the back of the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, there’s a 19MP shooter which uses Sony’s Motion Eye system. Predictive Capture takes a couple of seconds worth of photos before you hit the shutter button so you don’t miss anything, while 720p slow-mo video at 960fps is also possible. There’s also autofocus and Sony’s own version of electronic image stabilization, but there is no optical variant onboard. Luckily, the phone makes up for this by including high-res audio recording and listening, with S-Force Front Surround speakers.
Normally, companies like to try out gimmicks on smartphones that the average consumer would probably never use in day-to-day usage. That’s basically Sony’s 3D scanning feature in their camera. Essentially, it lets users scan objects into a 3D format and share them with friends, the internet, or with a 3D printer. Sony is working with game developers to incorporate the technology into video games so you could, say, scan your head into a game and create an avatar, although none of this is finalized. We’ve seen companies try and fail at bringing neat camera tricks to their audiences, and 3D scanning will likely go down in history as being one of those things you’ll use once to try out and then never touch again.
Yes, I realize I sound pretty harsh right now. But it’s true. We just saw LG take away the second screen from the V30 because it was too much of a gimmick. We saw them refine their design which will stand out much better than the V20 to consumers. And yet, they still strike a balance between gimmicks and actually useful features. To me, the XZ1 duo for this year doesn’t do that. Rather, it’s more of Sony throwing things against the wall to see if they stick. And while I’m on this subject, I think they should stop throwing their rectangular design against the wall and picking it back up after it miserably slides to the ground. It’s 2017 and Samsung’s Galaxy is a lot hotter than the Xperia lineup has ever been. That should be a straight-up warning for Sony.
Anyway, for those of you crazy enough to buy either of these handsets can get them in blue, silver, black, or pink. They’ll respectively cost $699 and $599 when they go on sale September 19th. They’ll be available for purchase through Amazon and Best Buy.