XPERIA XZ PREMIUM PERFORMANCE: HERE BE DRAGONS
With so many pixels to push, you’d better believe the XZ Premium has the hardware to back up that stunning screen.
Sony has managed to bag Qualcomm’s brand new Snapdragon 835 CPU, which pretty much makes it the powerful phone around right now. Rumours suggest Samsung had secured the entire first run of chips for the upcoming Galaxy S8, but somehow Sony managed to get an order in too.
We weren’t given the chance to properly see how quick the chip could be, but it had no problem running 4K HDR video, and Sony’s take on Android felt silky smooth. It doesn’t change things too dramatically from Google’s stock version, but anyone that’s used a Sony phone before will recognise the trademark icon pack.
Sony is promising a reliable, all-day battery life, with the familiar Stamina mode making a reappearance to keep rogue apps from sapping your juice. Just don’t expect to watch HDR video all day without a trip to the mains - the demo units set up at our hands-on session were looping a 4K video, but had hit 25% charge after barely an hour.
It’s still early days, of course, and Sony has plenty of time to optimise the software before launch.
XPERIA XZ PREMIUM DESIGN: SEEN IT ALL BEFORE
Once you get beyond the headline specs, though, the Xperia XZ Premium feels a little too familiar.
Sure, it’s got a mirror finish, chamfered corners (that double as antennas) and 2.5D glass that curves slightly at the edges, but the overall design hasn’t really changed from the Xperia XZ. That phone looked a lot like Sony’s previous efforts, and the overall look hasn’t changed massively since the original Xperia Z.
That does mean you get Sony’s signature side-mounted power button, which doubles as a very quick fingerprint scanner, and a dedicated shutter button for the camera, but only true phone geeks will notice you’re rocking one if you pull it out in public.
Waterproofing makes a welcome return, which shouldn’t be too surprising. Sony pretty much kicked off the trend for phones that can take a dunking, and it’s all the rage for 2017 - it would be criminal if the XZ Premium didn’t do the same.
You’re also going to need to pack a cleaning cloth, unless you like the look of fingerprints. Seriously, this thing is an absolute magnet for ‘em.
XPERIA XZ PREMIUM INITIAL VERDICT
Sony has struggled to make a big impact on the phone world recently, with the Xperia XZ failing to truly wow us back in September. This Premium upgrade feels like an antidote to that.
Sure, it’s got a design we've seen before, but if you want the absolute latest and greatest screen and camera tech, plus undeniably swift performance, there’s little else out there that can compete.
LG might have found a way to get HDR onto the G6, but it’s doing it at 1440p - not 4K, like the XZ Premium. The Google Pixel has a fast camera, but not 960fps fast. And with Samsung still not ready to reveal the Galaxy S8, this should be a performance champ - if Sony can get it on sale early enough.
Hopefully the price is right, too, although I’ve got a feeling that 4K screen won’t come cheap.
I wasn’t expecting much from Sony going into Mobile World Congress, but now I’m genuinely excited to get hold of one of these and take 4K, HDR video with me on the move.