Why the Sony Xperia XZ1’s 3D Scanner is one of the coolest phone functions right now

Don't dismiss it as a mere gimmick - this will impress professionals and selfie lovers alike

The Sony Xperia XZ1 isn’t the most eye-catching device ever, but one feature that deserves some attention is its 3D scanning software. It’s a lot of fun.

Okay, while it is kind of another desperate cash-grabbing gimmick, this is one with actual thought put in, and which has further opened the floodgates for an exciting AR future.

Considering the XZ1? Read on for how this exclusive feature can impress your mates and make you a GIF-legend - not to mention a GIF itself.  

3D scanning made easy

Just the fact that this brings 3D scanning to your own hands and makes it this simple is cool in its own right. Load up the 3D scanning app and you’ll find 4 scan types:

Face scan: a 3D scan of the front half of a person’s face, ideal if you don’t have the freedom of movement to make a head scan

Head scan: the real deal, where the entire head of a person is digitally rendered and can be stuck on animations and all sorts of post-production fun

Food scan: because who doesn’t want a 360-degree view of a beautiful fruit cake? It’s also ideal for scanning things on a table

Freeform scan: for experienced users who want to scan things from all angles 

The best part of these functions is how user-friendly everything is. As primitive as the mobile form of 3D scanning is (think the level of PlayStation 2 graphics), it certainly beats having to go to studios and renting the whole expensive kit.

Head scanning requires you to capture a person's face within a given frame, and simply trace the dots positioned on screen by moving around your subject. The program will then proceed to map the specific contours of your subject's head – hair, nose and all (although it’s worth noting that noses tend to come out poorly shaped).

It takes some time to get the hang of things. Our first few attempts were horrific (I had a pair of ears on the right side of my face). But once you get it, expect to be genuinely impressed. 

Turn yourself into an AR model

So the tech is there and it’s pretty good. But it can only be as good as its applications and how we use it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many apps that utilise AR tech or 3D scans, so it might take a while before Sony’s infrastructure here can take off.

What we do have for now are the appetisers, in the form of Shadow.lol Avatars. While completely frivolous, this is nevertheless a good start. Ever wanted to superimpose your likeness on images of famous movie characters? Or make digital models of yourself and throw them into funny situations? The 3D Scanner on the XZ1 is the platform you need to make it all possible.

Love your face so much that 2D simply isn’t enough? The XZ1 lets you set your 3D object as your wallpaper, and rotates every time you switch pages. 

Become the GIF master

As uncool as its name sounds, Shadow.lol Avatars does have a cool trick up its sleeve that may just make you the coolest member in your Telegram group chat: it turns your 3D avatar into GIFs, ready for sharing.

Choose from truly ridiculous GIF templates, many of which have been taken straight out of films. The latest include Shia Labeouf’s “Do It!”, Obama’s “mic drop” and the iconic Salt Bae – all of which you can enhance with your face.

Know a GIF-savvy group member on Whatsapp? Show him his place, with your face (here's Neymar's).