Sony Xperia XZ Premium aims to take on iPhone with stunning design cool camera features and outstanding display
Industrial design in mobile phones is at its striking best. The current crop of announcements at this year’s Mobile World Congress are testament to this: the solid, clean look of the Nokia 6, the simple but elongated shape of the LG G6 and the eye-popping colours of Huawei’s P10.
But perhaps the most attractive design of the lot is Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium. It modifies the already-elegant look of last autumn’s Xperia XZ, building on the distinctive curved edges and flat base and top (hey, it even stands up on its own!) but only gently.
This new phone is bigger thanks to the 5.5-inch display on board. And, the most noticeable change, it now comes in a finish called Luminous Chrome. This is essentially a mirror. As shiny and reflective as the clearest, cleanest mirror you’ve seen. It looks fantastic and is perfect for adjusting your make-up, combing your hair or checking your contact lenses.
And of course, it’s a real fingerprint magnet.
It won’t suit everyone but it’s a real standout in a show that’s already spoilt for design-led choices.
A mirror finish does not a smartphone make, mind, and the Xperia XZ Premium has a lot to offer inside as well as out.
Turn it on and the display is preposterously good. It is a 4K screen, like Sony’s previous Xperia Z5, but this time – and for the moment uniquely – it is High Dynamic Range-capable as well. High Dynamic Range, or HDR, as you may know is a technology which allows a display to show great detail in shadowy areas and in bright skies, for instance, at the same time. Without HDR you could have one but not both.
Is this overkill? It certainly sounds it, when you think the 5.5-inch display has four times as many pixels as a full-size High Definition TV. But what sets the Xperia XZ Premium apart is that Sony has a partnership with Amazon for 4K HDR content so that there’s something to watch on your mobile phone that does the screen justice.
This, Sony says, means a screen that’s totally immersive and great to watch. The company also says that such a screen needs a lot of power to work well and so has installed the latest Qualcomm processor to do the heavy lifting. That’s the Snapdragon 835, stat fans.
And there’s plenty of power in the camera on the XZ Premium, too. The pixel size is bigger, we’re told, meaning fewer can fit on the sensor. Even so, the rear camera has 19-megapixel resolution, so way more than most on the market.
Treats include laser autofocus (no, no, it just means it’s fast, not that it’s going to blast you with a ray gun), and an improved white balance system.
But the real new feature is the camera’s slow-slow-slow-mo mode. Most video on smartphones is shot at 30 frames per second (fps). Here, the camera can briefly shoot at 960fps. That’s not a typo.
Is it a gimmick? Of course it is, but, oh my, it’s a good one. Splashing water, popping balloons or a bloke jumping in the air on the beach all turn into mini dramas when shot at this speed.
The phone goes on sale in late spring and I look forward to reviewing it then, but in a world of me-too smartphones, the Xperia XZ Premium looks tremendous and offers unique, fun, brilliantly executed features.