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Sony Xperia XZs hands-on review: a new formula for success?

Update: Available in the US on April 5, pre-order on Amazon now

We've pretty much become accustomed to regularly seeing a new Sony device released every six months. The company has now released an upgraded version of the Xperia XZ, the Xperia XZs, which was unveiled at this year's Mobile World Congress. We were at the Sony press conference where the device was first presented and were able to do some brief tests to give you our first impressions. 

Sony Xperia XZs release date and price

The Xperia XZs was first introduced during MWC 2017, and it will be available in the US starting on April 5. It is available for pre-order on Amazon now for $699. The smartphone will be available in silver, blue and black. In the US, the device will have dual-SIM and 64 GB of internal storage.

Sony Xperia XZs design and build quality

Because it's basically an upgrade of the Xperia XZ, the Xperia XZs has a very similar look to its predecessor. The only differences are in the texture of the aluminum used for the device. This model has a matte, slightly rough appearance, and is a bit smoother than the previous Xperia edition.

AndroidPIT Sony XZs and XZ premium MWC 2017
The XZ Premium (left) next to the XZs (right). / © ANDROIDPIT

On the front and at some ends on the back we have a mixture of metal and plastic which, at least according to Sony, helps the antennas. This material used by Sony is ALKALEIDO, which is more resilient than polycarbonate and contains a higher amount of aluminum.

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The Xperia XZs. / © ANDROIDPIT

The XZs are nicely designed, with straight lines and slightly rounded edges. The buttons are also strategically positioned and are easily accessible. The rear camera lens is inside a prominent frame, which detaches itself from the rear surface of the smartphone. This is the point that sets XZs apart from XZ, and, as a result, ensures that the new device is a more stylish option.

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Rounded edges on the sides. / © ANDROIDPIT

Sony Xperia XZs display

The display of the Xperia XZs is identical to the XZ, retaining its 5.2-inch screen and Full HD-resolution. The mechanisms that manage color and contrast,  such as the Bravia Mobile Engine and X-Reality, are also the same. If you've ever tried a Xperia Z5 or the Xperia XZ, you won't have many surprises when you use the XZs.

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Stick with what you know: the Xperia XZs display. / © ANDROIDPIT

Sony Xperia XZs software

The Xperia XZs leaves the factory running with Xperia UI and Android 7.0 Nougat. According to Sony, users can expect the same user experience as those which are included in the software for the XZ, so you can expect a few extra features in the system.

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Yes, it will run Nougat. / © ANDROIDPIT

Sony Xperia XZs performance

Another aspect that did not change compared to the Xperia XZ was the processor, though the amount of RAM has been increased to 4 GB for the XZs. What's more, Xperia XZs has the Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor and 32 GB internal storage. It is also possible to use a microSD card of up to 2 TB as external memory.

 

Sony Xperia XZs audio

Since releasing the Xperia Z, Sony has continued to invest in stereo audio outputs for its smartphones, and the Xperia XZs is no exception to this rule. The device also offers support for high-definition files and also DSEE HX technology, which provides improved playback for MP3 files. Again, here the experience is pretty much the same as with the Xperia XZ. If there are any differences, they aren't apparent yet. 

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Here's the headphone jack at the top of the device. / © ANDROIDPIT

Sony Xperia XZs camera

The main difference that makes the Xperia XZs stand out is its camera, which is the same as the Xperia XZ Premium. This is the most notable aspect of the new model, which comes with the 19 MP triple sensor and the new Motion Eye system. As a result, the camera has dedicated memory which saves images' metadata that is processed even before the user presses to capture a picture.

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The rear camera. / © ANDROIDPIT

Sony's camera is trying to offer an alternative to the user, which can choose their preferred photo even before they have taken it. This mechanism will act faster than the user, causing no time or situation to go unnoticed. The image processor is Bionz, present in the company's compact cameras, known as Alpha and Cyber-shot. It is an adaptation aimed at Xperia smartphones, and promises to deliver less compromising post-processing, with more realism in color and detail. In practice, the predictive capture didn't work particularly well, at least on the prototype camera on the device we tried. 

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The camera is the standout feature on the new Xperia XZs. / © ANDROIDPIT

In addition to Bionz, Sony Imaging has introduced a new image sensor that is capable of recording slow-motion images in Full HD at up to 960 frames per second. In our hands on, we definitely found the slow motion to be impressive. Here Sony has developed the industry's first three-layer stacked CMOS image sensor. The new DRAM layer is introduced in between the usual two layers to deliver fast readout speeds. Here the camera relies on the optical stabilization of the lens to capture images and video, which is a fundamental requirement in more expensive smartphones which have a strong focus on photography.

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The camera in action. / © ANDROIDPIT

For both the Xperia XZs and XZ Premium devices that we tried in our hands-on review at MWC, the cameras were still prototypes. We will return to the camera and software in our final review to see how good it is.

Sony Xperia XZs battery

Sony promises two days of battery life with 2,900 mAh, which is a bold claim considering the amount of firepower which has been packed into the Xperia XZs. The brand has perfected the STAMINA mode, and includes battery technology from Qnovo, so this combination provides twice the normal battery life you'd find in an Xperia device. 

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The charging port. / © ANDROIDPIT

Sony Xperia XZs technical specifications

Dimensions: 146 x 72.8 x 8.1 mm
Weight: 161 g
Battery size: 2900 mAh
Screen size: 5.2 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 1920 x 1080 pixels (424 ppi)
Front camera: 13 megapixels
Rear camera: 19 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 7.0 - Nougat
User interface: Xperia UI
RAM: 4 GB
Internal storage: 32 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Number of cores: 4
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2

Early Verdict

Here, we can see that Sony has perfected its longstanding recipe for success in the smartphone market. The Xperia XZs is a marked improvement on the Xperia XZ, but it doesn't quite make the grade for it to be considered as the top device for the Sony brand. The company is making a conscious decision to release the device in select markets, ones where it knows the Xperia will be successful. 

The Xperia XZs is an attractive device and this new variant brings up some important new features, like its optimized camera. There are a few concerns about its battery capacity, as the system has not really been designed to increase the device's battery life, especially for what is for all intensive purposes an expensive device. We'll soon be able to conduct a more thorough test of the Xperia XZs, so we'll reserve our judgement until we've managed to put it through its paces in the near future. 

What do you think of the XZs? Do you prefer it over the XZ Premium? Let us know your thoughts on Sony's new smartphones in the comments below.

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12 comments

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  • I like the flat design, different from iPhone and other phone similar to the looking of iPhone.

  • design is not that good as samsung and lg have....they are already struggling still did nt take a step forward ad lg did with their new flagship phone.

  • So many bezels :-\

  • It is sd 821 not 820.

  • Tracy S. 3 months ago Link to comment

    Wish they would bring a compact version out (as they did with the Z3 and the Z5). I currently have the Z5 Compact and before that the Z3 Compact (which was a gorgeous phone).

  • It's a fine device, but when you look at it in the store and compare to lg g6, for a same price...this one has no chance to be bestseller.

    • The only XZ I would be interested in would be the the premium. Now that sounds & looks like a winner. I am an old beat-nik and I like the square look of the phone. A better battery & camera. I think Sony has finally hit the nail on the head with the premium offering!

  • hi! thanks for review. can you confirm if its use the same lcd panel than XZ? if youre not sure, whats your opinion about it vs XZ lcd display. is it brighter than XZ? more colorful? i found the Z5 has less motion blur while scrolling web page than XZ. what about XZs blur while scrolling? thanks for answer a lot.

    • Brittany McGhee
      • Admin
      • Staff
      3 months ago Link to comment

      Hi Rose,

      The display of the Xperia XZs is identical to the XZ.

      • I love the square looks of Sony phones, maybe I will consider the premium with the 835 processor! Plus a bigger battery & excellent camera's! I'm a little dissapointed with the S8 & Plus!

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