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Sony Xperia XZ and X Compact, First Take: X-series choices expand to six

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Sony's latest pair of handsets augment the Xperia X line announced earlier this year at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Three devices were announced at MWC -- the 5-inch Xperia X, Xperia X Performance and Xperia XA. Since then Sony has added the 6-inch XA Ultra, and now we have the 5.2-inch XZ and the 4.6-inch X Compact.

That's a wide choice of Xperia X-series handsets, and the selection is complicated by the fact that the Xperia X Compact is not a cut-down version of the existing Xperia X, but amalgam of the X and the new XZ.

Here are the key features of Sony's new handsets:

Sony Xperia XZ Sony Xperia X Compact
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Qualcomm Snapdragon 650
RAM 3GB 3GB
Storage 32GB 32GB
Screen 5.2-inch 1,920x1,080 pixels (424ppi) 4.6-inch 1,280x720 pixels (319ppi)
Connector USB-C USB-C
Rear camera 23MP, 4k video recording 23MP
Front camera 13MP 5MP
Water/dust resistance IP68 n/a
NFC yes yes
Battery 2,900mAh 2,700mAh
Dimensions 72 x 146 x 8.1mm 65 x 129 x 9.5mm
Weight 161g 135g
OS Android 6.0.1 Android 6.0.1
Price (inc. VAT) £539.99 £359

Both devices feature a fingerprint scanner built into the power button that sits on the right edge, and both can accommodate MicroSD cards to augment the 32GB of internal storage.

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The 5.2-inch Sony Xperia XZ.

Images: Sony

Both phones have a very shiny and reflective front design, although the finish on the sides and back of the larger Xperia XZ is matte while that of the Xperia X Compact is primarily shiny (the top edges are matte). The smaller handset is made from plastic while the larger is metal, and the plastic is bothersome. This, plus the relative thickness of the smaller handset, makes the X Compact feel like an older budget model rather than a new one. Perhaps this design was necessary to accommodate the 2,700mAh battery, but whatever the reason, it's not particularly attractive. It attracts greasy fingermarks, too.

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The 4.6-inch Sony Xperia X Compact.

Images: Sony

In terms of look and feel, then, the larger Xperia XZ wins out -- but not by much. Sony's characteristic slab-like design has never really wowed me, and while this this is a matter of taste, the sizeable bezels above and below the screen on both handsets are eye-catching in the wrong way. Arguably, design matters more than ever with handsets these days, and Sony may want to consider a refresh.

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Sony has talked up the camera capabilities of both handsets. Both have a 23-megapixel main camera, a sensor to help with colour reproduction across a range of environments and a 'Laser AF sensor' that helps with focussing when light is low. The Xperia XZ also has improved capability to capture stills when a subject is moving, and shoots videos at up to 4k resolution.

The front camera on the Xperia XZ shoots images at 13-megapixel resolution, while the Xperia X Compact only manages 5 megapixels. Its main camera can't handle 4k video, either.

It is easy to see the benefits of the higher screen resolution on the XZ's 5.2-inch screen when the two are sitting side by side, but the X Compact's 4.6-inch screen is perfectly adequate, even for video viewing and text reading. That said, I found it rather too small for comfortable video viewing for more than a few minutes. And even with my pixie-sized hands, typing more than the shortest of SMS messages on the on-screen keyboard was a challenge.

Charging is via a USB Type-C connector, so until all devices move over to the new standard you may find it necessary to carry a second charge cable.

Both handsets feature a new 'adaptive charging' technology from Sony designed to extend battery life. This is difficult to assess thoroughly as I've only been using both handsets for a couple of days, and switching between two phones is not the same at all as using just one continuously. Still, experience suggests it should be possible to get a day's use from both handsets unless you're a voracious consumer of games or mobile data, or of other battery-pounding features like GPS or music.

Lacking sparkle

After an admittedly brief acquaintance, we feel that neither handset has enough sparkle about it to stand out head and shoulders above the crowd at their respective prices. There are added irritations as far as the Xperia X Compact is concerned, too. Removing the water and dust resistance from the cheaper model feels like a backwards step, and on a more strategic level this phone is out of step with Sony's previous Compact handsets in not offering the same spec as the full-size Xperia X in a smaller frame.

Arguably, at a time when high-end smartphone sales are not as buoyant as they were, Sony may have muddied the waters with these two handsets rather than adding compelling new choices.

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Specifications

Cellular
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Type smartphone (Android OS)
Integrated Components FM radio, audio player, front-facing camera, navigation, rear-facing camera, stereo speakers, voice recorder
Navigation A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 4G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Android
Operating System Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
SIM Card Type nano SIM
Input Device Multi-touch, capacitive
Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, flight mode, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, digital compass, barometer, magnetometer, gyro sensor, Time of Flight (ToF), geomagnetic sensor
Additional Features TTY compatible, Radio Data Service (RDS), DLNA Certified, Text-to-Speech (text recognition), sharing media via DLNA, Screen capture, intelligent typing (SWIFTKEY), Wi-Fi Miracast, battery STAMINA mode, Glove mode, TRILUMINOS display, X-Reality engine, Clear Audio+, Clear Bass, Dynamic normaliser, Digital Noise Cancelling (DNC), Hi-Res Audio, Low power audio playback, Smart backlight control, Wi-Fi Passpoint, S-Force Front surround, Read Mode, Alarm Clock, PS4 Remote Play, Noise suppression, Smart cleaner, Qnovo Adaptive Charging
Security Devices Fingerprint reader
Details
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, FM radio, audio player, voice recorder, stereo speakers, navigation
Body Color Forest blue
Messaging & Internet
Messaging Services Google+ Hangouts, MMS, SMS
Supported Email Protocols IMAP4, POP3
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Facebook
Miscellaneous
Compliant Standards IP68, IP65, HAC (Hearing Aid Compatible)
Sensors Time of Flight (ToF), accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer, digital compass, geomagnetic sensor, gyro sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Communications
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA, LTE
4G LTE Band Band 1, Band 12, Band 3, Band 32, Band 38, Band 39, Band 4, Band 40, Band 41, Band 5, Band 7, Band 8, Band 13, Band 17, Band 19, Band 2, Band 20, Band 26, Band 28, Band 29
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.2, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC
WLAN Security AES, EAP SIM, WPA2, EAP-AKA, EAP-TLS, EAP-TTLS/MSCHAPv2, PEAPv0/EAP-MSCHAPv2, PEAPv1/EAP-GTC, TKIP, WEP, WPA
Bluetooth Profiles Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP), Message Access Profile (MAP), Object Push Profile (OPP), Personal Area Networking Profile (PAN), Phonebook Access Profile (PBAP), Serial Port Profile (SPP), Device ID Profile (DIP), General Audio/Video Distribution Profile (GAVDP), Generic Access Profile (GAP), Generic Attribute Profile (GATT), HID Over GATT Profile (HOGP), Hands-Free Profile (HFP), Headset Profile (HSP), Human Interface Device Profile (HID)
Processor
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty quad-core
64-bit Architecture Yes
Display
Technology IPS
Display Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels
Color Depth 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Diagonal Size 5.2 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 13.2 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 5.2 in
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass (scratch resistant glass)
Color Support color
Features 2.5D curved glass, Dynamic Contrast Enhancement, Super Vivid mode
Camera
Digital Zoom 8
Focus Adjustment automatic
Camera Light Source LED light
Features AR Effect mode, BIONZ image processing engine, Predictive Hybrid Auto focus, Quick Launch, RGBC-IR sensor, Red-Eye Reduction, Save location, Scene recognition, Sound Photo, SteadyShot, Style Portrait, Superior Auto, Color & Brightness, Sweep Panorama, Timeshift video, Touch Capture, Triple sensing technology, manual mode, picture stabilizer, self-timer, smile shutter, video recording, white balance, Creative effect, G lens, Hand Shutter, ISO setting, LDAF (Laser Detection Auto Focus), Low light shot, Object tracking
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards MKV, AVI, XviD, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, 3GP, H.264, H.263, M4V, TS, WebM, VP8, 3GP2, H.265
Supported Digital Audio Standards WAV, WMA, AAC, AIFF, ASF, PCM, Ogg Vorbis, AMR, MP3, FLAC, AAC-LC, XMF, AAC +, eAAC+, MKA, MIDI, M4A, apt-X, DSF, DSDIFF, DSD, LDAC, MXMF, AWB, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, ALAC, OPUS
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDXC - up to 256 GB
User Memory 20 GB
Multimedia
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 530
Battery
Run Time Details Talk (GSM): up to 700 min
Standby (GSM): up to 600 hrs
Talk (WCDMA): up to 1050 min
Standby (WCDMA): up to 610 hrs
Standby (LTE): up to 590 hrs
Playback (music): up to 78 hrs
Playback (video): up to 11 hrs
Digital Camera
Digital Zoom 8
Lens Aperture f/2.0
Min Focal Length 120 mm
Focus Adjustment automatic
Camera Light Source LED light
Special Effects Creative effect, Night Scene
Video Recorder Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (1080p)
Features AR Effect mode, BIONZ image processing engine, Predictive Hybrid Auto focus, Quick Launch, RGBC-IR sensor, Red-Eye Reduction, Save location, Scene recognition, Sound Photo, SteadyShot, Style Portrait, Superior Auto, Color & Brightness, Sweep Panorama, Timeshift video, Touch Capture, Triple sensing technology, manual mode, picture stabilizer, self-timer, smile shutter, video recording, white balance, Creative effect, G lens, Hand Shutter, ISO setting, LDAF (Laser Detection Auto Focus), Low light shot, Object tracking
Header
Brand Sony
Product Line Sony XPERIA
Model XZ
Edition F8331
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Touchscreen Technology capacitive
Features
Sensors Time of Flight (ToF), accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer, digital compass, geomagnetic sensor, gyro sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Additional Features Alarm Clock, Clear Audio+, PS4 Remote Play, Qnovo Adaptive Charging, Radio Data Service (RDS), Read Mode, S-Force Front surround, Screen capture, Smart backlight control, Smart cleaner, TRILUMINOS display, TTY compatible, Clear Bass, Text-to-Speech (text recognition), Wi-Fi Miracast, Wi-Fi Passpoint, X-Reality engine, battery STAMINA mode, intelligent typing (SWIFTKEY), sharing media via DLNA, DLNA Certified, Digital Noise Cancelling (DNC), Dynamic normaliser, Glove mode, Hi-Res Audio, Low power audio playback, Noise suppression
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, DSF, FLAC, IMY, LDAC, M4A, MIDI, MKA, MP3, MXMF, OPUS, AAC-LC, OTA, Ogg Vorbis, PCM, RTTTL, RTX, WAV, WMA, XMF, apt-X, eAAC+, AIFF, ALAC, AMR, ASF, AWB, DSD, DSDIFF
Supported Digital Video Standards 3GP, 3GP2, TS, VP8, WebM, XviD, AVI, H.263, H.264, H.265, M4V, MKV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4
Sound Enhancements 3D surround sound (VPT)
RAM
Installed Size 3 GB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 32 GB
Max Supported Size 256 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDXC
User Memory 20 GB
Graphics System
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 530
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 23 megapixels
Front-facing Camera
Sensor Resolution 13 Megapixel
Lens Aperture f/2.0

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Where To Buy

Sony Xperia XZ (Forest Blue, 32GB)

Part Number: IS_Xperia_XZ_Blue_US