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Sony's New Flagship Xperia Z1 phone is Big and Powerful. You can Swim with it too.
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Sony’s New Flagship Xperia Z1 phone is Big and Powerful. You can Swim with it too.

The Sony Xperia Z1 replaces the Xperia Z, which itself was only launched at CES in January as the company’s flagship smartphone.  The Z’s slick design and waterproofing were some of the handset’s standout features, but it quickly fell behind as new and powerful big screen devices arrived from the big guns in the business.The new Z1 comes with the same impressive build-quality and waterproof body as its predecessor and with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor and a 5-inch 1080p screen, the Z1 offers top-end specs all around.

P1050666

The Xperia Z1 is a big phone: it is taller and wider than the Xperia Z, and feels significantly larger than the ZL. essentially, it is a hefty metal frame covered on both sides by Dragontrail, a Gorilla Glass competitor less prone to shattering but slightly less scratch resistant. The Z1 is so wide, it is actually less easy to grip than competitors’ phones with bigger screens especially in my small hands.

P1050674

But there is a reason for the bulk-up: the 20.7MP camera sensor is 1/2.3 inches, the largest currently available on an Android smartphone. Similarly, the IP58 certification means that Sony had to rearrange some of the circuitry to make the phone waterproof and dust-proof. So no surprise, the z1’s two big features are waterproofing and camera quality.

Now, we have all seen the TV commercials of young people swimming with the Z1. It is a bit cool for swimming in Montreal right nows so I will try something that is more likely to happen like drop your phone in a sink full of water..I’ll use a bowl. Before dunking the Z1 you have to be sure the covers for the Micro Sim card, USB port and MIcro SD card are closed.

The 1/2.3-inch sensor in the Sony’s camera module is the same size as you would find in most consumer level compact cameras and therefore larger than the 1/3-inch sensors common in the current crop of smartphones.

The camera on this camera is quite something. The 1/2.3-inch sensor in the camera module is the same size as you would find in most consumer level compact cameras and larger than the 1/3-inch sensors common in the current crop of smartphones. The comparatively large sensor is combined with a high pixel count of 20.7MP and  a fast F2.0 lens. Sony is clearly aiming to allow you to leave your point and shoot at home.

Z1Right off the bat there are two pretty important design flaws. First the lens is so close to the corner of the phone that it is next to impossible to take a shot without getting your finger in it. You have to actively remember that you can’t hold this phone the same way you can hold every other camera to take pictures. Second, that huge 20.7 megapixel, back-side illuminated sensor goes to waste most of the time because the full 20 megapixels are only available in manual mode which is way to complicated for the average user who wants to point and shoot with the dedicated camera button on the side. So, the majority of people will end up in auto mode, which produces very good 8 megapixel images. Still even at 8MP the pictures are great…you can leave your point and shoot at home. Take a look at these shots.

5MP auto setting

5MP Auto Mode

Dark room with flash

Dark room with flash

The Z1 is no slouch in the video department either. Videos at 1080p are pretty impressive if a shade flat in this example shot in the late afternoon on a pretty murky day.

Overall the Sony Xperia Z1 is a pretty impressive phone that provides excellent performance, great pictures and quite a few interesting apps from Sony. It is however big and some will find it to be a handful. It is also a tad on the expensive side at $200 with a 2 year plan. However, if you buy before November 27th you can save $100 at TELUS..  Just use the offer code on the coupon below.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 2.18.53 PM

Offer valid November 8th – 27th, 2013 and is available for customers activating on a 2 year term on a TELUS SharePlus Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

3 Comments
  • anne B

    what about nokia lumia 1020 ? 40 something mp camera ? twice the mp this one has…

    November 22, 2013 at 8:48 am Reply
    • Bob Benedetti

      It is also a good choice if you want a Windows Phone 8 device. See my review at http://wp.me/p1CzTI-2I8

      November 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm Reply
      • anne b

        Wow mr Benedetti. I didin/t realize you were behind this website!! We-ve watched you for many years on TV.
        Hometech is very cool!!Thank you for your reply! Cheers -Anna from Montreal

        November 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm Reply

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