Overall Score: ★★★★
Sony’s current flagship device in South Africa is also its most beautiful, continuing the tradition of squared corners and minimal distractions.
It feels like it’s been built well – you know it’s a high end phone just by holding it - and its 5,2” screen is vibrant and crisp.
The phone is great to hold. Its rounded sides compliment the metallic feel, with a perfectly-placed power button hugging the right hand side. Sadly, the sexy feel comes at a cost – finger smudges for days.
Note the finger sumdges on the back of the phone. Credit: Mikail Baker
Naturally, the button doubles as a fingerprint sensor, and boy, does it work well. It puts Apples and Samsungs to shame!
It’s also got a headphone jack, so that’s already one up on the iPhone 7. Strangely, though, the volume rocker on the right side is super awkwardly-placed, forcing you to disfigure your thumb to use it.
Being a Sony, it features a camera shutter button that takes full advantage of the phone’s auto-focus abilities. It also works as a shortcut to the camera while the phone’s locked.
The phone’s top and bottom are perfectly flat, allowing you to stand the phone upright. Other than that, it’s just another design feature.
Best of all, the XZ is waterproof. Sony is hesitant to recommend underwater use, but the IP68 standard means it can safely be submerged up to a metre.
Tech + Software
The screen may look great, but it’s not as good as it could be. Full HD is as good as it gets, I’m afraid.
The screen does well in brightly-lit conditions. Credit: Mikail Baker
Processor-wise, however, it’s up there with the best of them, featuring Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chipset and a whole 3GB of RAM. There’s very little this phone can’t handle.
It’s got Sony’s standard pre-installed app suite, including the PlayStation App, which works better on this phone than on any other.
Remote Play allows you to play your favourite PS4 games right in the palm of your hands, and the phone handles them brilliantly.
Mobile games run smoothly, as well. I tested EA’s Real Racing, and the phone performs better than any other I’ve tested.
The Android Marshmallow interface is quick and responsive, and all apps open in a flash. Multitasking is child’s play for the top-of-the-line gizmo.
The XZ’s camera is undoubtedly its showpiece. Sony arguably makes the world’s best camera phones, so it’s no surprise that its flagship device packs a 23MP punch.
It’s not a jump up from previous Sony phones, but in the field it is by far the company’s best attempt yet.
The new laser auto-focus ensures that action shots are captured sharp and clear, with almost no blur at all.
It’s is incredibly fast. The auto-focus is like nothing you’ll find anywhere else. Period. The time from lock screen to capture is almost instant.
Video-wise, it’s 4K capable, but it’s quite annoying that you have to go into a separate app within the camera app to use it.
Obviously, though, you won’t be able to enjoy what you’ve captured on the device itself, unlike on the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7.
The panorama function is annoying to use, and the but the Sony makes up for little flaws with the intricacy of its camera app – even shutter speed can be controlled.
The phone also pulls off the selfie-magic of the XA Ultra without the ugly front-facing cam. The 13MP sensor records video in full HD and will make you a Snapchat god.
The XZ’s battery is just as good as anything else on the market these days. I left it on standby for a good 40+ hours before it kicked the bucket, and with regular use, it’ll last roughly a day.
Keep in mind that resource-heavy tasks like gaming and 4K recording will drain the battery way, way faster.
The juice is nothing special, but it’s enough to ensure that the phone is one of the best that money can buy.
If Sony ever plans to adopt a 2K screen, however, it’ll need to up its battery game a lot.
So – who’s it for? Anyone looking for an upgrade from a mid-range phone should seriously consider this phone alongside any other.
PS4 gamers might be drawn by the Remote Play functionality, but other than that, it all comes down to personal preference.
Sony has definitely met all requirements for a top-end device easily capable of doing battle with both the iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Sadly, though, those devices have strong and loyal customer bases, and Sony really does need to come up with something ground-breaking to best either of them.
The XZ ticks all the right boxes, but there’s not x-factor and no stand-out feature.
Being as good as the best is just not enough. The Japanese company needs to change the game.
Thankfully, it’s upcoming XZ Premium might do just that. (Look out for the review in the near future)
At the end of the day, though, this phone does what it needs to, and it does it well. It’s solid, beautiful and super-fast, combining a top-end camera with decent battery life.
Looks: 9,5/10 (One of the best out there)
Performance: 10/10 (Handles high-end games with ease)
Battery: 9/10 (Great, but not mind-blowing)
Camera: 9/10 (Sony hasn't found perfection yet)
Wow factor: 7/10 (It's gorgeous, but really nothing ground-breaking)
Overal Score: ★★★★