Sony Xperia Z1 & QX10 Review

WP_20131012_11_02_19_ProThe Sony Xperia Z1 arrived at the ITB office last week along with the QX10 WiFi/Bluetooth camera lens accessory. Sony despite some excellent products of late have been perhaps somewhat forgotten about it’s fair to say. With Samsung ruling the Android sector and HTC occasionally releasing something snazzy, Sony can be overlooked is the impression I get, at least surveying what devices people have.

Design

However, that may just be about to change with the Xperia Z1, featuring a beautiful 5″ Full HD display. The Z1 is very similar to its previous iteration the Xperia Z with a few minor changes to the design. It’s taller than the Xperia Z (139mm) now up to 144.4mm and is thicker than the Z up from 7.9mm to 8.5mm.

The Z1 features a dust and water proof design with an IP58 certificate, this means that you can have no fear about dropping it accidentally down the toilet or into a puddle. In-fact the IP58 cert means that it can survive a dept of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

I did have some concerns with the longevity of the port flaps on the device, they just don’t feel that sturdy, not to the extent that they will survive a couple of years of daily opening and closing. I also found the Z1 to be rather awkward to hold, I don’t have small hands but I think the issue is that the device is so tall and thin that holding it feels odd. This coupled with the volume rocker being below the camera button just made it feel odd.

However there can be no denying that the Z1 is an amazing looking device. An all glass front and back, this simply blows the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and HTC One out of the water, not that they could be in water as they are not water proof.

Display

The Xperia Z1 has a 441ppi screen with a 16 million colour contrast ratio which is a 1920 x 1080p high resolution display. It features lots of Sony’s TV technology to really make viewing Video and Images pop right out of the screen at you.

Viewing angles are excellent on the Z1 as is outside sunlight readability. The colour depth is quite good but perhaps not quite as Galaxy S4.

Performance

WP_20131012_11_02_52_ProThe Z1 is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor clocked at 2.2GHZ with an Areno 330 graphicschip. It’s got 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage (12GB available) and can be expanded by a further 64GB via microSD.

It is an amazing powerhouse, and for once Android flies along with virtually no stutter or slow down. Games look brilliant on the Full HD display and run smooth without a whisper of slowdown.

With top scores on AnTuTu Benchmark, the Z1 was quite some ways above the competition.

Web browsing is very quick however as usual on Android, the stock browser and indeed the Chrome browser are a total mess and not well thought out. Streaming online content even in HD is impressive and stutter free.

Camera

Lets tackle the native camera on the Z1 first before getting to the QX10. The built in camera is a 20.7MP sensor with an LED flash and f/2.0 G lens. It features Sony’s BIONZ technology from their DSLR range of camera to generate a faster autofocus, more stable images and prevent shots from looking blurred.

Taking pictures is very quick although perhaps not quite as quick as some other devices. Image quality for the most part if good, so in outdoor scenarios and bright indoor rooms pictures are good.

Unfortunately the Z1 doesn’t compete with the like of the Nokia’s Lumia 1020 for low light shots, with the Z1 images being very dark and lacking detail.

Social Live is an app which lets you stream live video straight to Facebook. By connecting your Facebook account you can begin recording and let friends see the streaming footage.

The Z1 has a 2-megapixel front camera, the image and video quality is above average and the ability to stream and record 1080p video at 30fps is excellent if you are planning to use it for video calls.

The Z1 can shoot great full HD video at 30fps. Video is clear and the audio capture particularly loud. You can take images and video underwater also which really is an excellent feature, just remember if in the pool, 1 meter max or you’ll be sorry.

QX10 Lens

The QX10 is an option accessory that will allow for up to 10X zoom for the Z1. The QX10 can operate independently of the Z1 also via WiFi connection, this has the potential for great movie making scenes and funny angles.

The QX10 is derived from the Cyber-shot WX200 compact camera. It’s the 10x optical zoom lens from the front and the 18-megapixel sensor inside.

On the back is a panel that opens to show the battery compartment, as well as the slot for the M2 or microSD memory card. Sony says 220 shots or 25 minutes of video is what you will get out of the battery, I found it to be somewhat less but your experience may differ.

The QX10 comes with an attachment to allow you to snap it onto the Z1 itself, and while not difficult it is just awkward and fiddly. To contrast this again to the Nokia Lumia 1020 which has a 41MP sensor but yet is very slim and will fit in your pocket, the QX10 will require a carry bag/case. The shots produced from the lens are very good but over all the camera experience is less impressive that Nokia’s outing.

At about €220 this is an expensive companion lens to your Z1 and for the everyday user I would not recommend it, for the budding photographer I would.

Conclusion

So what does all this mean, do I like the Z1 and QX10, the answer is very much a yes, more so than the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3. If you are in the market for an excellent Android device with waterproofing, excellent screen and top class specs then this is for you.

If however you are looking for a smartphone that can truly replace your point and shoot and be a top class smartphone then I would have to recommend the Nokia Lumia 1020 as the device to buy, it is without doubt the top camera phone out today.

As I have said though, if Android is your poison, and you just want a very good camera and quality device then I would recommend the Z1 completely. Also to point out at time of print, the Z1 is available on Vodafone for €569 with a free QX10 while stocks last.

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