Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

Introduction


Sony has been among the more prolific smartphone manufacturers over the past few years. Throughout 2016, the Japanese manufacturer unveiled seven new smartphones, and at MWC this year, it introduced four more handsets. The top device in the latter bunch was the Xperia XZ Premium.

With the XZ Premium, Sony promises unparalleled experience thanks to its revolutionary camera tech, excellent 5.5-inch 4K display and Qualcomm's latest silicon – the Snapdragon 835. Let's see if it delivers.

Design

That's one big and gorgeous fingerprint magnet.

The XZ Premium is a beautiful phone. It comes with a 5.5” display in a rather bulky chassis, but still feels quite comfortable to hold. The body is mostly glass and metal, and it feels satisfyingly solid thanks to its size and weight. There's just one aspect to the Xperia XZ Premium's design that we're not too keen on, and that's its susceptibility to fingerprints, courtesy of its otherwise stunning mirror-like finish.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

When it comes to the fingerprint scanner, it will be available outside the US only, as expected, and it's embedded in the power button on the right side. The same side of the _phone_ also holds the volume rocker which is placed above the power button and is far more comfortable to use than those of the Xperia XZ and Xperia XZs.

The left side of the _phone_ holds only the combined SIM and microSD tray. The bottom houses the USB Type-C port, and the top – the 3.5 mm jack.

When you look at the Xperia XZ Premium's front, you see a classic Sony design – bezels that are slightly on the big side, but also give the device a rather stylish formal look. Pair this with the impressive display and the dual front-firing speakers, and you have a truly great-looking handset that certainly catches the eye.

Overall, Sony did a great job with the phone's looks.

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Front view | Side view
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
6.14 x 3.03 x 0.31 inches
156 x 77 x 7.9 mm
6.88 oz (195 g)

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Samsung Galaxy S8+
Samsung Galaxy S8+
6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches
159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm
6.10 oz (173 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8+

LG G6
LG G6
5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches
148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

LG G6

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches
158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
6.63 oz (188 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus




Display

A very solid screen, despite being a bit blueish.

When it comes to the Sony Xperia XZ Premium's display, it's hard to find something not to like about it. It's a 5.5-inch 4K LCD panel, which makes it plenty crisp in all possible use cases. This includes games, video content, web browsing and what not. That being said, for videos and movies, the difference between a 4K display and a 1080p one would be barely noticeable, unless you really look for it. So, in case you're wondering what the benefits of the 4K panel are, they're most noticeable with VR content, where you will suffer far less quality loss. Bear in mind that Sony doesn't have its own VR platform for smartphones, but you may use the XZ with Google's Cardboard.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

We have only one complaint about the panel – its colors are somewhat unrealistic. However, it does feature three display presets that you can choose from to change the way colors are shown – Standard, Super-vivid, and Professional Mode. The first is the default profile the phone comes with, the second obviously over-saturates all colors, and the third is meant to present you with the most realistic colors. That effect, however, is somewhat spoiled by the slight blueish hue of the screen. Thankfully, you can adjust the white balance as well, using the provided sliders under the Display option in the phone's settings, and completely get rid of any unwanted tints.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 548
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1239
(Good)
8104
(Poor)
2.15
4.49
(Average)
7.77
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 565
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6936
(Excellent)
2.14
5.06
(Average)
4.91
(Average)
LG G6 506
(Excellent)
4
(Excellent)
1:2164
(Excellent)
8639
(Poor)
2.12
5.68
(Average)
7.55
(Average)
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 672
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1431
(Excellent)
6981
(Excellent)
2.2
3.11
(Good)
2.63
(Good)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

Introduction


Sony has been among the more prolific smartphone manufacturers over the past few years. Throughout 2016, the Japanese manufacturer unveiled seven new smartphones, and at MWC this year, it introduced four more handsets. The top device in the latter bunch was the Xperia XZ Premium.

With the XZ Premium, Sony promises unparalleled experience thanks to its revolutionary camera tech, excellent 5.5-inch 4K display and Qualcomm's latest silicon – the Snapdragon 835. Let's see if it delivers.

Design

That's one big and gorgeous fingerprint magnet.

The XZ Premium is a beautiful phone. It comes with a 5.5” display in a rather bulky chassis, but still feels quite comfortable to hold. The body is mostly glass and metal, and it feels satisfyingly solid thanks to its size and weight. There's just one aspect to the Xperia XZ Premium's design that we're not too keen on, and that's its susceptibility to fingerprints, courtesy of its otherwise stunning mirror-like finish.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

When it comes to the fingerprint scanner, it will be available outside the US only, as expected, and it's embedded in the power button on the right side. The same side of the phone also holds the volume rocker which is placed above the power button and is far more comfortable to use than those of the Xperia XZ and Xperia XZs.

The left side of the phone holds only the combined SIM and microSD tray. The bottom houses the USB Type-C port, and the top – the 3.5 mm jack.

When you look at the Xperia XZ Premium's front, you see a classic Sony design – bezels that are slightly on the big side, but also give the device a rather stylish formal look. Pair this with the impressive display and the dual front-firing speakers, and you have a truly great-looking handset that certainly catches the eye.

Overall, Sony did a great job with the phone's looks.


Front view | Side view
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
6.14 x 3.03 x 0.31 inches
156 x 77 x 7.9 mm
6.88 oz (195 g)

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Samsung Galaxy S8+
Samsung Galaxy S8+
6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches
159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm
6.10 oz (173 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8+

LG G6
LG G6
5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches
148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

LG G6

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches
158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
6.63 oz (188 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus




Display

A very solid screen, despite being a bit blueish.

When it comes to the Sony Xperia XZ Premium's display, it's hard to find something not to like about it. It's a 5.5-inch 4K LCD panel, which makes it plenty crisp in all possible use cases. This includes games, video content, web browsing and what not. That being said, for videos and movies, the difference between a 4K display and a 1080p one would be barely noticeable, unless you really look for it. So, in case you're wondering what the benefits of the 4K panel are, they're most noticeable with VR content, where you will suffer far less quality loss. Bear in mind that Sony doesn't have its own VR platform for smartphones, but you may use the XZ with Google's Cardboard.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

We have only one complaint about the panel – its colors are somewhat unrealistic. However, it does feature three display presets that you can choose from to change the way colors are shown – Standard, Super-vivid, and Professional Mode. The first is the default profile the phone comes with, the second obviously over-saturates all colors, and the third is meant to present you with the most realistic colors. That effect, however, is somewhat spoiled by the slight blueish hue of the screen. Thankfully, you can adjust the white balance as well, using the provided sliders under the Display option in the phone's settings, and completely get rid of any unwanted tints.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 548
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1239
(Good)
8104
(Poor)
2.15
4.49
(Average)
7.77
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 565
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6936
(Excellent)
2.14
5.06
(Average)
4.91
(Average)
LG G6 506
(Excellent)
4
(Excellent)
1:2164
(Excellent)
8639
(Poor)
2.12
5.68
(Average)
7.55
(Average)
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 672
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1431
(Excellent)
6981
(Excellent)
2.2
3.11
(Good)
2.63
(Good)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

New Android version, classic Sony skin.

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium comes with Android 7.1.1 on board, complete with Sony's familiar skin with minor changes. If you have used an Xperia phone since the Z1 onward, you will have no problems picking up the XZ Premium and using it to its full potential by the end of the first day.

The default theme takes a page from Samsung's book and provides a simple gradient wallpaper that reminds us of the last seconds of sunshine, before dusk falls in the summer. It's nothing fancy or animated, it's not distracting in any way, and it's quite pleasant to look at.

Overall, the interface of the Xperia XZ Premium is quite pleasant and intuitive. Not to mention that thanks to its brand new Snapdragon 835, it's quite snappy too, and lag is nearly non-existent.


Processor, Performance and Memory

A powerhouse through and through, the Xperia XZ Premium doesn't fail to impress.

Sony is one of the few manufacturers right now that have announced a phone with the Snapdragon 835. Paired with the 4 GB of RAM, this makes for a pretty well-performing phone, and it shows. Using the Xperia XZs with the older Snapdragon 820 feels cumbersome and slow after a few days with the XZ Premium, despite the fact that both handsets sport almost identical software.

What surprised me with the handset is its low temperature after heavy sessions of gaming and even VR video. Most phones I've used heat up significantly when you put them in the relatively enclosed Google Cardboard, but the Xperia XZ Premium, while slightly warmer than usual, was not as hot as I expected. Same goes for heavy 3D games, such as Rovio's Battle Bay. Add the superior 4K display to the mix and you get a multimedia powerhouse.

The handset also comes with 64 GB of user storage, which is pretty much the standard, and it's easily expandable via microSD.

Internet and Connectivity


Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

As would be expected from a flagship, the Xperia XZ Premium comes with all the bells and whistles, when it comes to connectivity, including LTE, NFC, GPS and so on.

Additionally, it's one of the first phones to employ Bluetooth 5.0, which means that it has the capacity to transfer files twice as fast, and four times further. However, the device on the other end needs to employ the same standard. If you have a Bluetooth 4.2 headset, for example, the range and speed will be just as limited as before.

We still don't know whether or not any of the US carriers will be selling the device, so when it comes to LTE connectivity, make sure to check with your carrier whether the bands of the device you plan to buy are supported. Otherwise, you might be stuck with a great and expensive handset, without the ability to employ its full potential.

Camera

A solid all-around camera, but low-light photos could have been better.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Camera interface of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium - Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Camera interface of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium - Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Camera interface of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium - Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
Camera interface of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium - Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

Camera interface of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium


Every year we hope for the same thing when Sony phones come out – better-optimized camera app. Unfortunately, we have yet to see it, as the XZ Premium comes with the familiar clunky camera interface, which is surprising considering the rest of the software is optimized pretty well. The app is slow to respond to input and awkward to use, due to the placement of some of its essential elements, but at least it hasn't gotten any worse than before.

The emphasis of all marketing materials about the Xperia XZ Premium is placed on the main camera, and for a good reason. The shooter is quite impressive when it comes to medium and good lighting conditions. It takes pleasing photos with plenty of detail.

Also, thanks to Sony's new Motion Eye tech, taking photos of fast-moving objects no longer results in any distortion. Shooting a speeding car for example, will capture it just as well as if it was parked on the side of the road.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium - Fast-moving objects - Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
LG G6 - Fast-moving objects - Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

LG G6

Fast-moving objects


Of course, we can't talk about the XZ Premium without talking about slow-motion videos. The new Sony smartphone is capable of shooting clips at 960 fps, which is four times the speed of what we had available on smartphones up until now. This means that when you play the video with regular speed, it will be four times slower than the slow-motion you can capture with the Google Pixel, for example.

These prove trickier to make than Sony is making it look, though. Pressing the shutter button in just the right moment could prove to be nearly impossible. Even staged scenes take a few attempts to time right, and since the actual slow-motion video captures about 0.15 of a second, the action might happen right before or immediately after what you shot in 960 fps.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 1.5
1.7
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 1.2
1.3
730
622
LG G6 1.7
2.7
522
530
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 1.33
2.01
No data
No data
View all

The selfie snapper is nothing to write home about, but it's not bad either. We would classify it as dully average. Our issue with it is the so-called “soft skin” effect, which does little to hide skin imperfections. In fact, selfies look better with it disabled, since it tends to give both your skin, and any spots that might be on it, a wax-like look.

When it comes to video recording, the Xperia XZ Premium is doing more than well. Both the 1080p and 4K clips look pretty crisp and pleasant. This persists at regular zoom levels too, with very little loss of detail when you zoom up to three times. Of course, the zoom is digital, so going above that, up to the maximum of eight times, will result in some reduced quality.

Multimedia

A TV set in your pocket.

When it comes to multimedia experience, the XZ Premium is about as good as it gets. The 4K HDR display provides the best viewing experience for just about any video content you might imagine, and when paired with the solid stereo speakers, it almost feels as if you have a pocket-sized TV.

In case you're a Sony user who also happens to own a PlayStation 4, the XZ Premium could become your best friend. The PS4 Remote Play app has never looked better. Just make sure that you have a stable Internet connection on both the console and the phone, otherwise you will be plagued by the constant buffering and graphical glitches.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 0.36
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 0.74
LG G6 0.78
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 0.992
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 70
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 80
LG G6 74
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 77.4
View all


Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review

Call Quality

It's much better than that of its smaller sibling.

We were somewhat disappointed by the call quality on the Xperia XZs. Thankfully, this can't be said for the Xperia XZ Premium. The bigger handset features better internals, and it appears that this extends to microphones and speakers too. Calls with the Xperia XZ Premium are quite crisp and pleasing. We wouldn't say that they're as clear as speaking in person, but we couldn't pick up any issues or distortions either, so we can't complain.

Battery Life

Big screens don't necessarily need big power banks.

Big screens with high resolutions require a lot of power, that's a fact. And with the XZ Premium's beast of a display, one would expect that the battery life would be laughable. However, they would be wrong.

The phone comes with a not-so-impressive 3,230 mAh power pack, but it appears that it's enough. The XZ Premium lasted us through the whole day for the time we used it without any issues.

In our standard battery test, the handset lasted for 8 hours and 15 minutes, which is well above the average, and it's a pleasant surprise, considering the average capacity of the power pack and the huge high-resolution display.

Of course, playing heavy multimedia on it made its charge drop like a stone. So, in case you want to play Pokemon GO on its glorious 4K screen, better do so equipped with a serious power bank.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 8h 15 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 8h (Excellent)
LG G6 6h 20 min (Average)
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 9h 5 min (Excellent)
View all

Conclusion


Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review
The Xperia XZ Premium is a very good phone. We can't really complain from lack of power, design or camera performance. However, at the end of the day, it has very solid competition to beat. Other manufacturers are betting on new aspect ratios, smaller bezels and dual cameras, and it seems that Sony is the only one staying true to its own formula for now.

This, of course, doesn't make it a worse phone than the LG G6 or the Galaxy S8+. In fact, it now offers the same blazing fast performance as its competitors, thanks to the Snapdragon 835 and some pretty well-optimized software (actually, that's better hardware than what we have in the G6).

If you're still not ready to give up the 9:16 aspect ratio, and you're looking for a solid device to invest in, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium can and should be one to consider seriously.