Sony Xperia Z1 Smartphone Review

Sony Xperia Z1 Smartphone Review

Sony Xperia Z1 is un-doubtly, the best Android Smartphone compare to recent high end models released by HTC and Samsung.  It gives vibrant screen powered by Sony X-Reality Picture Engine and a durable design. Compare to Xperia Z, Sony pushed Xperia Z1 hard more towards end-user features like photography. Being a budget conscious person I always checkout product in detail before buying them. When I got Xperia Z1, it appeared a big screen black phone, giving out less flashy look and unique style. The layout is very much different compare to other high end models. Samsung has already sticked with the bar shape, giving out rounded corners instead of pointed. While Sony Z1 has metal siding with tiny rounds, and less thickness offering good grip. The price of Xperia Z1 is Rs.41,500 & Xperia Z is Rs.31,999.  We will checkout the difference later on. I found, Sony released Xperia Z1 by upgrading the older series making it better. Durability is a common feature of Xperia series. You get a waterproof and dustproof phone that allows you to use it under rough condition. Also battery life is good here. The model beats its predecessor with better hardware config, amazing display and photography features. We found Xperia Z1 an ideal device for everyone who is willing to pay good price.

TimeScape UI enhances the usage giving out smooth accessibility and animated customization options. It is fast responsive and has lag free output. Quad Core CPU + 2GB RAM + Dedicated GPU make it amazing on all aspect. It is best for multimedia, gaming and app usage. You can run multiple applications one by one, view videos on the same time and configure download or installation in the background. This phone does not even lags a bit. This is what I like in it. It complete justify the high end term. Compare to this recently released Galaxy Note 3 has 3GB ram support. But still I prefer Xperia Z1 over it. We will checkout it in more details, before that lets move ahead with detailed specification:


  • Display: 5.0inch Full HD Triluminos Display supported by X-Reality Mobile Picture Engine.
  • Maximum Screen Resolution : 1920×1080 pixels
  • CPU: 2.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8974 Quad Core
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • Operating System: Android 4.2 Jellybean  
  • Camera: 20.7MP with Sony Exmor RS (Mobile Image Sensor). 2MP Front Camera
  • Zoom : 8x Digital Zoom
  • Flash : Pulsed LED
  • Video: 1080P Full HD
  • Battery: 14 Hours Talktime. Upto 880hours Standby Time
  • Weight: 169grams
  • Durability: Waterproof and Dust-Resistant design.


Sony Xperia Z1, is best durable camera phone. The body comprise of rich elements, not giving up stylish look. It comes in three colors. White, Purple and Black. We are reviewing the black edition here. The front and back is completely black, offering rich textures when light flash over it. Compare to other two color, I found purple more classy and attractive. Xperia Z1 is a locked phone. That means you don’t have any access to the internal component. The battery remains locked inside in the unibody can increase the cost at the time of repairing. It has minimum reflective component over body well placed. The ports are covered with protective flaps that block the water from getting inside. It is important to close them properly when you are planning for an underwater shooting. In terms of size it is large. The dimension is 144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm. slightly smaller than Note 3 and a slightly larger than HTC One X+.

The design looks stiff to me. It is also sleek. The phone gives a phablet look. The front side is covered by 5.0” Full HD Triluminos Display with X-Reality support. You can enable and disable X-Reality from Settings panel. X-Reality boot the color output of screen adding more vibrant colors. Triluminos display already adds rich colors to images, but X-Reality further boost it. It is just like viewing life like images on the screen. The body is around 8.5mm in thickness. Xperia Z1 is thinner compare to HTC One X+ (8.9mm) but a bit thicker compare to Galaxy Note 3 (8.3mm).

Front Side:

The front side is mostly covered by 5inch Screen, with a very thin border around. Instead of adding capacitive touch buttons separately, it is integrated on the screen towards bottom. There is no button placed on the front side. The screen is amazing. It is already rich in features. The phone is completely control through touch screen. It is covered with Dragontrail glass.  It is a shatterproof and strong. Compare to Gorilla Glass 2, Dragontrail is considered as 5 times stronger. Due to which it is scratch resistance. Even if accidentally felled from your hand or banged on rough surface, the phone will not instantly develop any cracks or scratches.

At the top side lies Proximity Sensor/Light Sensor. Next to the Sony logo lies a 2MP Camera. It offers two modes shooting. Which is 1.7MP offering a maximum resolution of 1520×1140 at a aspect ratio of 4:3 and the second one is at full 2MP mode offering you a maximum resolution of 1920×1080 at a aspect ratio of 16:9.

Above Sony logo lies the Ear Receiver with a light that blink on new Notification and on Charging. The Ear Receiver is placed a bit inside. The audio quality is bit low here. This can be due to waterproof design that does not allow liquid to enter from any part. That causes the audio to lower down while you are on phone.

So this was the front of side of Sony Xperia Z. Here we have a 5inch HD screen capable of playing full 1080p resolution. It is amazing and vibrant. Triluminos display is the kind of new screen that is used in Xperia devices offering vibrant output. X-Reality on the other hand boost the video and image quality. Xperia Z1 uses Super Resolution technology. This fixes the pixel and gives you a detailed view. It does not really work much on low resolution photos that are taken from other device. Any photo or video captured through phone camera is enhanced. I am sure you will not need any third party software to fix them. The phone also has optimized Sony Bravia technology widely used in Sony products that manage to maintain the resolution quality on 5” screen. The screen emphasizes more on offering you natural colors. The pixel density is 441pixel per inch, which is really high compare to Galaxy Note 3 (386ppi), HTC One X+ (312ppi) and iPhone 4S(326ppi). So in terms of display, Xperia Z1 has unmatched quality. It remains on top from all other models.  It is quiet neatly packed with durable features.


All ports and buttons are placed on the side. The side is covered with thin metal film which completely locks the edges. Curved corners are less disturbing. Big a big size phone it will not completely fit inside your pocket. Especially when you are wearing jeans. Also when you site it is a bit uncomfortable to keep it in pocket. At the top side there is a 3.5mm audio jack. This audio jack does not support any headphone. You have to use branded or Sony compatible headset. I had tried to test some cheap headphone on it. It gave me a straight error that Headset is not supported.

On the right side lies a Micro SIM card slot, Power Key, Volume key and Camera key at the bottom. The SJM slot has tiny Micro SIM tray in which you have to place your card. This removes the issue of buying or looking for Micro SIM Card holder. You can gently push the tray out, place your card on that and push it inside and then close it with cover.

Next to that lies the popular sliver color round power button which is widely used in all Xperia phones. Other phone has a straight button which is easy to press. While in Xperia Z1 you have to press it more tightly. The button is mixed with the design and adds a unique look on the right side.

Below that lies two more buttons. The first is Volume key and the second is Camera key. And at the end there is a strap hole to add strap.

At the bottom lies the phone speaker. Instead of placing it on the back, Sony had placed it to the extreme button. This never affects the audio volume. Because in other model when you place the phone on desk the audio is blocked. This issue is not available in Xperia Z1. The speaker product decent quality audio with loud noise. It covers nice area on the bottom part.

On the left lies the Micro SD Card slot and Micro USB port. At the center is a charging dock connector. The internal storage is around 16GB and you can extend the same upto 64GB by Memory Card.

At the backside lies the main camera. 20.7MP camera supported by Sony Exmore RS mobile image sensor. That helps you to capture amazing and vibrant photos. Just below that lies the camera flash.

At the center lies a NFC chip through which you can instantly connect with any device. NFC is a common connectivity standard widely supported by many wifi device. You just have to turn it on and touch the backside of device on other for instantly connectivity. Ideal to hook the device with Bluetooth speaker.  Talking about the design, and features I am rally impress with Xperia Z1. The phone might be costly, but it justifies each and everything. It is durable and strong. Sony somehow manages to boost the phone quality making it far more impressive compare to other high end phones in the market.

Camera :

Xperia Z1 offers a 20.7MP camera. Large pixel means more clear and crisp photos. You get more detailed images with amazing color and high resolution. At 20.7MP the image resolution is 5248×3936 at 4:3 aspect ratios. This is really amazing. But I am not happy with auto-focus. I am using Galaxy Note 2 from a bit long time and I had seen the difference clearly. Galaxy Note 2 has an 8MP camera, but it has amazing autofocus. It create crisp and highly detailed image, while Xperia Z1 creates clean images.  You can check that in our video review of Sony Xperia Z1. Xperia Z1 is amazing in outdoors. Taking photos in bright sunlight is simply amazing. Xperia Z1 is a good companion while travelling. You can get great vacation photos through it. The default camera app has all features require taking great photos. Compare to what we see actually, the camera tries to fix the picture by adding more color and clarity. There would no need to use Photoshop. Compact camera offers 1/2.3” 20.7MP Exmor RS Lenses. This is a proprietary technology.  The compact sensor is capable of giving you high quality pictures.

Due to compact size, it is possible to fit the same in tablet and mobile phone. Till yet we had not seen any advance camera technology used in such a small space. This would be the first one. Exmor RS is smaller in size. It is designed to give superior image quality. The auto-focus mechanism consists of three different sensors that try to give you best result at maximum resolution. WE are really impressed with the image quality. 8x Digital Zoom is enough for taking nearby shots. But if you are taking widescreen, then Zoom remains limited. Xperia Z1 offer you superior quality image. The LED flash adds more light to the picture. Now if you are a camera freak and want to convert Xperia Z1 into professional photo taking device then you buy a separate lens kit for it.

The model is Smartphone Attachable Lens-style Camera DSC-QX100. This is a compact A-Mount lens which you can chook on the phone and take more amazing shots. This A-mount lens is compatible with Sony digital camera and Smartphone. It adds 10x optical zoom to the camera adding more wider and detailed photos to capture.  It adds more professional feature turning your phone to an advance DSLR. It has 1.0 type Exmor R CMOS sensor and additional 3.6x optical zoom. It is easy to carry and comes with simple attachment mount panel.  It is a cylindrical lens that connects with the mobile through NFC or wifi.  You can capture and instantly share photos on it. The lens has its own image processor, it does not rely on the mobile phone. It acts as a separate lens kit. You can control the same through Xperia Z1.

Front Camera:

Xperia Z1 has dual camera support. 2MP front camera is good for taking portrait shots and for video chatting. Almost all features which work on the back camera are supported by front camera also. Due to low resolution photos under low light are dark. But when you take them under light photos are impressive. The 2MP camera gives you a 1920×1080 pixel image quality as 16:9 aspect ratios. You can reduce that to 1520×1140 at 4:3 aspect ratio. This are the two models only present. The settings offer you HDR, Image Stabilizer, Smile Shutter, Self-Timer and Image Burst support.

For videos you can shoot in three models. First is MMS which create light video files that you can share instantly with your friend. Second is HD model that give you 1280x720p image resolution @ 16:9 aspect ratio and the last is Full HD 1920×1080 image resolution @ 16:9 aspect ratio. So here you have here amazing video shooting output. Compare to other phone, the front camera is less dark. Video quality is good here. Other features are Smile Shutter, SteayShot and Microphone. Additional option that you can modify for front camera is GeoTagging, Auto Upload, touch Capture, and Shutter sound and Data Storage location. A separate set of camera modes are added towards the right side. There are overall 6 different options available that works for primary camera also. We will see that in detail later on.

Sony Xperia Z1 Camera Image Album

Rear Camera:

Now this one is the largest compact camera. Image processing is fast here. Almost all settings are similar here. But you get Face Registration feature. Through which you can tag photos, add to contacts and do various stuff. Next time when you take any picture the mobile automatically tag the images. To adjust the settings, you have to set the camera on manual mode. If the settings on Superior Auto the mobile itself manages all settings offering you the best quality. But if you want to reduce the resolution and save some space then you can tap on the right side that launch the mode menu and choose manual from it. Under manual mode you have two panels on the left and right side. From the top  you can customize the EV value. Keeping it on auto is recommended. You can also turn on/off flash and then at the last lays a setting menu. From here you can capture image in 4 different resolutions:

  • 20.7MP –  5248×3936 @ 4:3
  • 8MP – 3264×2448 @ 4:3
  • 8MP – 3840×2160 @ 16:9
  • 3MP – 2048×1536 @ 14:3
  • 2MP – 1920×1080 @ 16:9

You can also chose from different focus mode and enable object tracking. Other things you can do are settings and choose ISO, Metering and Image Stabilizer. So here you have ample of great features to take the best photo as per your choice. But if you don’t want to mess with the settings then you can simply set the camera on Superior Auto mode.

The maximum video resolution you will get here is 1920×1080 which is a full HD mode and HD modes offer 1280×720. Both at 16:9 aspect ratios. You can also turn on HDR Video recording. Things that we are having under video are different Scene Selection. This is a bit handy to add extra effects on the recording videos. Overall there are 7 scene modes available in it. So here we are having effective camera modes and setting to take amazing settings.

Camera Apps:

Sony has added some camera apps in Xperia Z1. You can add more by tapping on the + icons. The camera apps consist of little effective application that can change the photos completely.

  • Superior Auto : We had already discussed is Superior Auto. This helps you to take photon on optimized settings. You have to do nothing here.
  • Manual: Here you can do changes as per your need. The third is Info-Eye. This is something different. Info ye help you to find information about object.

  • Info Eye : This is something impressive. The mode offer you to collect helpful tips on thing you are capturing. It has overall 7 different info to choose. You select the type of object and capture image. For example Books. Tap on books and take the picture of book cover. You have to manually select the area and done. The phone will search for the book cover and give you additional information on the same. The same it does for landmark. Take the picture of landmark and you get info related to map, nearby hotels, weather condition, complete history of landmark, etc. This is handy. You can choose text and take a photo of any text and the phone will search online. Like if you not aware about any place, you can take the photo of station name and you will get information. Ideal app for travelers.
  • TimeShift Burst: This mode helps you to capture multiple images at the same time and choose the best shot among it. IT is a common feature used in many high ends Smartphone. So it happens that when you are taking a photo some blink eyes. You can take picture under that mode and choose the perfect one.  It is very fast. At a time it captures around 18 different shot of the same scene and allows smooth option to choose the best one.
  • AR Effect: This is something for fun. The mode has 7 categories through which you can add additional effects on the  photos. It is amazing and based on Augmented Reality technology. A smart way of having some eye popping effects on the camera scene. Like adding a hat on anyone face or mask, adding some fictional creatures. There is preset mode in it. This is the next level Photo Filter. Instead of giving you dead effects you have live effects on the phone screen.
  • Picture Effect: This is just another picture effect section where you can have a preview sample nicely arranged before taking photos. Like Fisheye, Vivid, Sketch etc. Overall there are 9 effects in it.
  • Sweep Panorama: This is the last one. We all know Panorama images. This feature helps you to take wide angle photos. You have to move the camera on the arrow.

Overall Xperia Z1 has amazing camera features. You can do many things in it and you can also use Pixlr Express app that comes pre-installed. This app allows you to edit the pictures. The app is provided by AutoDesk. Being a portable app has lots of new features. It is an advance photo editing application. With simple tap you can completely modify your images, add filter on them, add border, write in image and scribble on it. Once you get this application you will not need any other.


Xperia Z1 is a high end phone.  2.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8974 Quad Core cpu + 2GB RAM + Adreno 330 GPU is great for running any HD games on it. Games like Iron Man, Batman, Asphalt, Shadow Warrior H D, etc work well on it. There is no lagging or performance issue. After using Xperia Z1 I did not faced any problem with slow down or freeze apps. While playing games or watching videos you can still run many applications in the background. MSM8974 is a Quad Core cpu belonging to Snapdragon 800 family line. This is a high end cpu series offering great output in terms of gaming and app usage. 4 Core cpu is capable of handling all operation easily and give out flawless performance. This series cpu are ideal multimedia usage. They also offer premium graphics with low battery consumption. that is the reason even after using the phone continuously on internet and for gaming, the device is still goes well upto 6 hours.  The cpu is based on Krait architecture capable of high performance. Adreno 330 on the other hand is high end gpu with 3D gaming support. it boosts the graphic performance 50% more compare to the older series. And the computing power is also double. Adreno 330 is capable of optimizing the full power of Snapdragon 800 series processor. both are capable achieving high end 3D graphic output. being a latest mobile graphic processor it is the best one.

TimeScape UI adds different look and simple navigation options. Complete optimized android operating system is capable of boosting the productivity. This is a good thing about brands. They don’t rely on the tock rom features. They add more and make it better. It will be right to stay that this phone comes loaded with many Sony app (bloatware). It does not affect the phone output from any angle. Some apps like Pixlr Editor, Album, Walkman, are great. You don’t need any other app.

Multimedia & Gaming :

Xperia Z1 is ideal for multimedia. Video playback is just great here. We get more benefit over other models due to X-Reality Mobile Display engine. This boot the color output making the screen more vibrant and crisp.  X-Reality is a picture enhancement technology. The image/video you capture from the phone will be better compare to what you see actually. Adding colors, making proper correction and offering a vibrant image is what this technology gives. It believes in fixing the texture offering clear and crisp image. Watching HD videos is a treat on this mobile phone. The same is applicable for images.

For gaming as I said it is a high end phone, it will run all HD games. The issue lies with heating up. This can be due to thin design. The processor heats up really fast when you are doing a resource intensive work on it. I had experience this commonly while taking photos and while playing games. Almost all HD games are supported by this phone. Graphic output is also amazing. It works fine and has no performance issue. IT does not matter how much app you are running. It gives lag free output. I am really impressive with the gaming output. Xperia Z1 is an ideal device for multimedia and gaming.

Benchmarking: Benchmarking score help us to get the actual rating of phone. The better score the better it can handle apps and game. The test on based on various tiny tests. That consists of graphics, multi-tasking, text readability etc. We are using two tools here. The first is AnTutu and the second one is Quadrant. both are popular tool for testing out any mobile phone. So below you can see the benchmarking score achieved by Xperia Z1. The device almost lies on the top part of high end Smartphone in the market. It beats Galaxy S4.

Xperia Z1 Battery:

 Xperia Z1 has an impressive battery output. It does not drain out really fast. Once fully charged you can use it for the entire day. But if you are playing games or watching videos, then that can be reduced to 6hrs or lower. A huge amount of battery drain out at the time of web surfing. Like if you are download files through wifi, or watching an online video, etc the battery drain out really fast. Leaving that aside this phone has a 3000mAh battery. it is a big size battery capable of holding good amount of power. If you are using the phone for basic purpose like music, apps, facebook, chatting, etc then it is even capable of working around 8 to 10hours. The issue lies with background update. We all know that whatever apps we download from Google Play has constant updates. This drain out the power slowly from backside. A new firmware update released recently has improvised the battery output. It also has reduced the heating effect. So if you own the phone or if you are going to buy the first thing you must do is run a  new firmware update through Sony PC Companion.

Conclusion :

No doubt Xperia Z1 is one of the best durable Smartphone. The camera is also amazing. The phone cost around Rs. 41,500 on Flipkart and 37,500 on Snapdeal. It lies to the price range of Rs.40,000. It is a high price, but still Xperia Z1 justifies the cost. Timescape UI makes it smooth and fast responsive. The X-Reality Display engine boosts the image and video output adding more vibrant colors and detailed quality. 20.7MP camera is simply amazing. And high end hardware configuration is capable of running any game and app on Google Play. Xperia Z1 is a very impressive model.  a bit size phone that full fills all its promise. I like the phone due to its durable features. It is dust proof and waterproof. You can take great photos inside water also. It is a powerful contender for other high end models in the market. I don’t think there are many except Galaxy Note 3 and LG Optimus. The camera is amazing here, but I am bit not satisfied with the auto focus settings. The body design is robust and big size screen give maximum usability. You can read eBooks and news easily on that. Xperia Z1 offer top performance and top features.


  • X-Reality Display Engine
  • 20.7MP Sony Exmore RS Camera powered by BIONZ Mobile Image Sensor
  • Dustproof/Waterproof
  • Sleek Design.
  • Good battery life


  • Overheating while using camera and playing games.


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