Sony Xperia XZ

 Cool factor **** | Usability **** | Value for money ***

 

The relentless stream of smartphone releases and updates continues unabated. The latest Sony flagship to arrive on our shores is the Xperia XZ Premium. The device was named best new smartphone at the Mobile World Congress 2017. So, what does it offer to have earned the title?

As a physical handset, it’s in keeping with the general look of the previous Xperia models: bold and large, with squared-off corners. It’s comfortable to hold with a one-hand grip, though it’s a bit slippery, given its high-gloss, glass finish. As always, we highly recommend getting a cover on the device — this will give you more grip and protect it (somewhat) from inevitable drops.

The design is striking but, arguably, divisive — you’re either going to love it or loathe it.

The Xperia XZ Premium screen is 5.5 inches, with a 4K resolution (2,160 x 3,840) that makes a strong first impression. For Sony, this is brand association at play — it uses its Bravia TV tech to put an "immersive 4K [high dynamic range] experience in the palm of your hand". Brand-building aside, it really delivers on clarity and depth of colour.

Surprisingly, given this screen, the battery life is also outstanding. It charges quickly, and holds power well on standby. In typical use, it lasted the reviewer well into the second day.

The device uses a Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM that make for a swift and smooth experience, even while gaming. It offers 64GB storage that can be boosted with a microSD card.

The XZ Premium is a high-specification device, sure, but the real talking point is the capability of the camera, and specifically its category-leading 960 frame/second slow-motion video mode. If this kind of feature excites you, have a look at some of the creative slow-motion videos being created by XZ Premium users on YouTube.

Another crowd-pleaser for a younger audience is the augmented reality app, which lets you "insert" dinosaurs and the like into images and videos.

The retail price for this device starts at a hefty R15,039 — putting it roughly in the range of top-end Samsungs, iPhones and Huawei devices. So even with all its camera tricks and bells and whistles, the XZ Premium has stiff competition to overcome.

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