Sony Xperia XZs Review

Introduction


Sony is dishing out flagships like there's no tomorrow. Last year, the Japanese company was probably the most prolific top-of-the-line manufacturer of them all. And this year, at MWC, Sony decided to update its flagship line once more. The result were two new phones – the adequately refreshed Sony Xperia XZ Premium and the less-novelty Xperia XZs.

Leaving the XZ Premium aside, let's dive into the XZs and see what's what with the device.

In terms of hardware, little has changed from the XZ. The new _phone_ uses almost exactly the same body design, and almost the same internals with some small, but significant differences.

Design

We've held this _phone_ in our hands before.

Sony Xperia XZs Review
Sony Xperia XZs Review
Sony Xperia XZs Review
Sony Xperia XZs Review

The design is anything but a major leap from its predecessor. The Xperia XZs looks exactly like the XZ, save for the slightly more prominent camera bump on the back.

However, this is not inherently a bad thing, as the look and feel of the phone screams “Xperia”, and that means that it's stylish, elegant and clean. It still features the “loop” design Sony introduced last year, making the somewhat bulky phone quite ergonomic and pleasant to hold by curving the sides a bit.

The materials used to manufacture the phone have also stuck since the last model, with glass on the front plate, metal on the back and plastic everywhere else, including a strip of it on the lower portion of the rear panel. However, the plastic components still feel pretty solid and nice to the touch, so we have no complaints there whatsoever.

Our problems with the design start when we look at the right side of the device. It houses the power button, with the fingerprint scanner for the international model, and the awkwardly placed volume rockers on its lower portion. Our thumbs would much appreciate it if the hardware buttons were moved around a little bit, and the volume rockers actually ended up above the power button.

The bottom of the phone houses the USB Type-C port, while the top hold a 3.5mm jack for your classic audio needs.

The Xperia XZs comes in Ice Blue, Black and Warm Silver, and all three of those colors look gorgeous in person, unlike their rather bland looks in most photos, official ones included.

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Front view | Side view
Sony Xperia XZs
Sony Xperia XZs
5.75 x 2.83 x 0.32 inches
146 x 72 x 8.1 mm
5.68 oz (161 g)

Sony Xperia XZs

Sony Xperia XZ
Sony Xperia XZ
5.75 x 2.83 x 0.32 inches
146 x 72 x 8.1 mm
5.68 oz (161 g)

Sony Xperia XZ

OnePlus 3T
OnePlus 3T
6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches
152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

OnePlus 3T

Huawei P10
Huawei P10
5.72 x 2.73 x 0.27 inches
145.3 x 69.3 x 6.98 mm
5.11 oz (145 g)

Huawei P10




Display

5.2” LCD display that does its job extremely well.

Sony Xperia XZs Review
The display on the Xperia XZs is anything but bad. The LCD panel comes with colors that are a bit inaccurate but still pleasing, and delivers great performance in extreme sunlight. Its viewing angles are not as good as the rest of the screen's features, but they're still good enough to do the job.

Its resolution stands at 1080 x 1920 pixels, which is more than enough pixels to deliver a very clean, easy to read image.

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 XZs 511
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1263
(Excellent)
8534
(Poor)
2.18
5.77
(Average)
7.53
(Average)
Sony Xperia XZ 633
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1330
(Excellent)
8184
(Poor)
2.15
5.67
(Average)
6.3
(Average)
OnePlus 3T 407
(Good)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6851
(Excellent)
2.2
1.86
(Excellent)
3.6
(Good)
Huawei P10 545
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1558
(Excellent)
8258
(Poor)
2.29
4.57
(Average)
8.37
(Poor)
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 XZs Review

Introduction


Sony is dishing out flagships like there's no tomorrow. Last year, the Japanese company was probably the most prolific top-of-the-line manufacturer of them all. And this year, at MWC, Sony decided to update its flagship line once more. The result were two new phones – the adequately refreshed Sony Xperia XZ Premium and the less-novelty Xperia XZs.

Leaving the XZ Premium aside, let's dive into the XZs and see what's what with the device.

In terms of hardware, little has changed from the XZ. The new phone uses almost exactly the same body design, and almost the same internals with some small, but significant differences.

Design

We've held this phone in our hands before.

Sony Xperia XZs Review
Sony Xperia XZs Review
Sony Xperia XZs Review
Sony Xperia XZs Review

The design is anything but a major leap from its predecessor. The Xperia XZs looks exactly like the XZ, save for the slightly more prominent camera bump on the back.

However, this is not inherently a bad thing, as the look and feel of the phone screams “Xperia”, and that means that it's stylish, elegant and clean. It still features the “loop” design Sony introduced last year, making the somewhat bulky phone quite ergonomic and pleasant to hold by curving the sides a bit.

The materials used to manufacture the phone have also stuck since the last model, with glass on the front plate, metal on the back and plastic everywhere else, including a strip of it on the lower portion of the rear panel. However, the plastic components still feel pretty solid and nice to the touch, so we have no complaints there whatsoever.

Our problems with the design start when we look at the right side of the device. It houses the power button, with the fingerprint scanner for the international model, and the awkwardly placed volume rockers on its lower portion. Our thumbs would much appreciate it if the hardware buttons were moved around a little bit, and the volume rockers actually ended up above the power button.

The bottom of the phone houses the USB Type-C port, while the top hold a 3.5mm jack for your classic audio needs.

The Xperia XZs comes in Ice Blue, Black and Warm Silver, and all three of those colors look gorgeous in person, unlike their rather bland looks in most photos, official ones included.


Front view | Side view
Sony Xperia XZs
Sony Xperia XZs
5.75 x 2.83 x 0.32 inches
146 x 72 x 8.1 mm
5.68 oz (161 g)

Sony Xperia XZs

Sony Xperia XZ
Sony Xperia XZ
5.75 x 2.83 x 0.32 inches
146 x 72 x 8.1 mm
5.68 oz (161 g)

Sony Xperia XZ

OnePlus 3T
OnePlus 3T
6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches
152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

OnePlus 3T

Huawei P10
Huawei P10
5.72 x 2.73 x 0.27 inches
145.3 x 69.3 x 6.98 mm
5.11 oz (145 g)

Huawei P10




Display

5.2” LCD display that does its job extremely well.

Sony Xperia XZs Review
The display on the Xperia XZs is anything but bad. The LCD panel comes with colors that are a bit inaccurate but still pleasing, and delivers great performance in extreme sunlight. Its viewing angles are not as good as the rest of the screen's features, but they're still good enough to do the job.

Its resolution stands at 1080 x 1920 pixels, which is more than enough pixels to deliver a very clean, easy to read image.

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 XZs 511
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1263
(Excellent)
8534
(Poor)
2.18
5.77
(Average)
7.53
(Average)
Sony Xperia XZ 633
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1330
(Excellent)
8184
(Poor)
2.15
5.67
(Average)
6.3
(Average)
OnePlus 3T 407
(Good)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6851
(Excellent)
2.2
1.86
(Excellent)
3.6
(Good)
Huawei P10 545
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1558
(Excellent)
8258
(Poor)
2.29
4.57
(Average)
8.37
(Poor)
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

Android 7.1.1 got the Sony treatment.

Sony Xperia XZs Review

Despite the fact that the Xperia XZs comes with Android 7.1.1 on board, its interface still feels satisfyingly familiar. If you've used a Sony phone before, you will have no troubles when you pick up the XZs, as everything is pretty much the same.

When it comes to the standard pre-installed themes, they're pretty much the same as those of the Xperia XZ, safe for the new Xperia Loops live theme, featuring some beautiful elliptical shapes that shift under your touch.

Unfortunately, the similarities don't end there and Sony opted to continue using the SwiftKey keyboard. Needless to say, we're far from thrilled about this one. The layout is somewhat questionable and confusing, and punctuation is awkwardly placed in all possible cases.

And in case you don't like using predictions while typing, we have some bad news. Not only that they can't be turned off with SwiftKey, but they also take a solid chunk of your screen above your keyboard.

Processor, Performance and Memory

This is not the upgrade you're looking for.

Just like its predecessor, the Sony Xperia XZs employs the Snapdragon 820 chipset with Adreno 530 GPU. While it's not top-of-the-line anymore, the 820 is still a solid chip. However, we expected more from a so-called “upgrade”. The RAM did get some love, though, and an extra gigabyte has been added for a total of 4 GB of memory.

The rest of the internals stayed the same, with 32 GB of internal memory, expandable through a microSD card, and a 2,900 mAh power pack, but we can't complain for the lack of upgrade here. These should be more than enough in most cases.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 126895
Sony Xperia XZ 127482.66
OnePlus 3T 160646
Huawei P10 116267.66
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 3493
Sony Xperia XZ 3447
OnePlus 3T 4175.33
Huawei P10 2730
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 5186
Sony Xperia XZ 5333.66
OnePlus 3T 6302.33
Huawei P10 5609.33
JetStream
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 45.789
Sony Xperia XZ 45.556
OnePlus 3T 49.402
Huawei P10 57.971
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 60
Sony Xperia XZ 59
OnePlus 3T 59
Huawei P10 58.33
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 33
Sony Xperia XZ 32
OnePlus 3T 32
Huawei P10 23.33
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 2174
Sony Xperia XZ 1892.66
OnePlus 3T 2185.33
Huawei P10 2669
Geekbench 4 single-core
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 1745
Sony Xperia XZ 1526.33
OnePlus 3T 1854
Huawei P10 1906
Geekbench 4 multi-core
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 4002
Sony Xperia XZ 3520.66
OnePlus 3T 4175.66
Huawei P10 5762.66
View all

Internet and Connectivity


Thankfully, Sony's default browser is still Google Chrome, so you'll be getting the best possible Android compatibility.

The Xperia XZs also comes with support for all standard bands, but there will be a difference between the US and International models, so do make sure to double-check what you're buying and if it supports the bands you need.

The phone also supports all standard connectivity options – the latest Wi-Fi standards, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS and so on.

Camera

An impressive back camera, courtesy of Sony, but only in good light conditions.

Sony Xperia XZs Review

The major upgrade from the Sony Xperia XZ is the main camera. Sony makes use of its latest smartphone sensor that comes with 1 GBit of its own DRAM. This allows the camera to shoot video at 960 fps for a short burst of super-slow motion, which looks stunning if you film the right scene.

There are two super slow-motion modes – regular and one-shot. The first allows you to shoot normal video, and click an extra button for a burst of slow-motion footage in the middle of the clip; the second records a short video at 960 fps when you click the capture button, and stops recording right after.

The hard part with shooting these clips is touching the button in just the right moment. The super slow-motion feature is meant to be used for those “blink-and-you'll-miss-it” moments, which also means that you will struggle with timing the shot. We found that the feature works best when used to film something planned in advance, so you can properly prepare to click that on-screen button in just the right moment.

Unfortunately, the camera app that comes with the phone is just as cumbersome as we remember it from previous years. Taking a photo shouldn't be a chore, but with all Sony phones from the past few years, it certainly feels like one. The Xperia XZs is no exception. The app is slow to load and react to input, and the UI is somewhat counter-intuitive.


If you can live with the clunky camera interface, though, you will be rewarded with some pretty pleasing photos. The rear-facing camera of the Sony Xperia XZs provides plenty of detail and returns very little noise. This holds true both indoors and outdoors if you have some good light.

When it comes to low-light shots, however, the Xperia XZs lags behind most flagships of the past year. If you use the auto settings, HDR fails to kick in at times, resulting in some over-exposed areas, while others are way too dark. Also, HDR or not, a lot of detail is lost in low-light indoor shots.


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 XZs 1.6
1.9
No data
No data
Sony Xperia XZ 1.7
2
No data
No data
OnePlus 3T 2
2.1
574
558
Huawei P10 2
2.1
812
497
View all
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The selfie snapper doesn't fall far behind either, providing plenty of detail under regular lighting conditions. Both outdoor and indoor shots look pretty good. However, the so-called “soft skin effect” does very little to hide skin imperfections.

When it comes to video recording, the Xperia XZs is capable of shooting 1080p clips at 60 frames per second, and they do look pretty decent. The continuous auto-focus does its job, but it does struggle a bit, compared to other devices in the same range. As for the 8x digital zoom, it's no surprise that it makes the shot look rather unclear. Still, most people won't zoom in eight times when shooting a video in a regular situation, and the lower zoom-in levels do look pretty decent.


Multimedia


The Xperia XZs, similar to its predecessor, comes with two front-facing speakers. They're sufficiently loud without sacrificing too much quality. Of course, you can't expect a smartphone to produce sound with the same quality as a pair of PC speakers, but with the Xperia XZs, you won't hear too much distortions even in more complex songs with lots of instruments.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 0.37
Sony Xperia XZ 0.35
OnePlus 3T 0.84
Huawei P10 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 68
Sony Xperia XZ 68
OnePlus 3T 74
Huawei P10 74
View all


Call Quality


Sony Xperia XZs Review

Call quality is far from ideal with the Xperia XZs. While it's not necessarily bad, there are some audible distortions during calls. Finding better cell reception and testing with different phones on the other end didn't help much.

Still, while the call quality could have been far worse, we expect a bit more from a flagship smartphone of any brand.

Battery Life

A battery that's nothing to write home about, but it still does the trick.

Sony Xperia XZs Review
The Sony Xperia XZs comes with a 2,900 mAh battery. It's good enough to last you through the day without any troubles, but don't expect miracles. Still, the phone managed to sustain a full day of medium to heavy usage without being charged until bed time.

That being said, during our standardized test, the Xperia XZs lasted almost an hour less than its predecessor, the XZ. It lasted for 5 hours and 55 minutes, which while not bad, is not actually good either.

Still, if you play a lot of heavy games, or rely on your navigation a lot, you might want to keep a USB-C cable close by for emergency charging.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia XZs 5h 55 min (Average)
Sony Xperia XZ 6h 41 min (Average)
OnePlus 3T 5h 41 min (Average)
Huawei P10 7h 42 min (Good)
View all

Conclusion

The Xperia XZs could have benefited from some more improvement, but it's still an okay phone.

Sony Xperia XZs Review

The Xperia XZs is a solid device, don't get us wrong. But it's still too similar to its predecessor, the XZ. Everything, from the design, through the hardware and software, could have benefited from some more revisions.

What was changed, though, is pretty good. Of course, we're talking about the camera. Sony's latest sensor produces great results in medium to strong light, despite struggling in low-light conditions. Its best selling point, though, is the 960 fps slow-motion video, which looks stunning under the right circumstances.

Overall, the Xperia XZs is not a bad phone at all. It might not be a suitable choice for owners of the Xperia XZ, but it is a good all-around handset for people looking to replace an older device. However, it does have a very solid competition in its $600 - $700 price range, so only time will tell whether or not the Xperia XZs can compete with the rest.