Sony Xperia XZs Review: Slow (e)motion: Conclusion

By 01:51 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments

Final words

To acquire this straight, the Xperia XZs is an interim flagship of sorts, definitely not 2017's top pick. The XZs is taking over from the last one in charge, but the real greats are supposed to start hitting in six months or so. And we've had a taste of what's to come thanks to the Xperia XZ Premium, less than a month away itself.

Sony has been very consistent in its flagship upgrades throughout the Z-series lifetime. Incremental is definitely the keyword there. While some manufacturers are keen to surprise everybody every time, Sony's been reliably predictable. Predictably reliable. You are your word order.

All in all, the Xperia XZs is, as we already established, a Xperia XZ with a recent Motion Eye camera. Simple as that. If you own the XZ already, there is small point upgrading to the XZs unless you absolutely need that 960fps slow-mo footage 'yesterday'.

On the other hand, the Xperia XZs is a lovely piece of a phone, not to be too lightly dismissed as a mere test case for an imminent capturing camera upgrade that will sweep across Sony's upper ranks. The XZs is still one extra solid package - one that looks remarkable and has the computing power to spare. The classy screen is more than reasonable too. Resolution may descend short of flagship standards, but the flip side is consistently fine speed and performance for an overall remarkable Android experience. And it's plenty sharp even as it is.

The Sony Xperia XZs is a smartphone package that can do well. If it weren't for the US fingerprint debacle, it would have been a global darling - at the correct price of course. Still very relevant regarding equipment and performance, it throws in a unique feature to acquire the correct amount of extra attention to itself.

Sony Xperia XZs key test findings

  • Attractive no-nonsense design building on the Sony flagship tradition. High-quality build.
  • Excellent display, high maximum brightness and contrast, remarkable to utilize even out in the sun.
  • Solid battery life: 73h of endurance rating, 8 hours of web, and 9 hours of video playback.
  • Traditionally restrained approach to skinning Android, elegantly clean interface with added Sony goodies like Stamina mode and solid multimedia apps. Where's a file manager when you need one, though?
  • Snapdragon 820 is a top performer in general, and the Xperia XZs is among the most powerful smartphones today. The 1080p resolution surely helped the GPU scores.
  • Excellent audio quality on an external amp, but a drop in quality in headphones (but still good).

  • Stereo loudspeakers sound nice but they barely scored Average in our loudness test.
  • Detailed 19MP images from the primary camera, but we don't see any improvements regarding available noise, colors, corner sharpness or low-light photos. There is also no OIS to assist in low light shooting.
  • 4K video looks great, 1080p likewise. The 960fps slow-mo HD videos hrecent a lot of potential but capturing the moment takes practice and is a hit-and-miss when you only have 1/16 of a sec to work with - less than a split second of the real-life actions gets slowed down.
  • The 13MP front facing capturing camera is a boon for selfie addicts - plenty of detail, fine dynamic range, just haged the subjects well lit.

If you are after a Sony smartphone, but not srecent yet on the 960fps video experience, there is still the fine recent Xperia XZ for you. It's the same phone, even in terms of still capturing camera quality, at €200 less.

Or, you can wait for the Xperia XZ Premium, which not only brings some design novelties and the same recent capturing camera but the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset and a 4K display. Just brace yourself for a hefty price tag north of €750.

Sony Xperia XZ • Sony Xperia XZ Premium

The OnePlus 3T has an AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) screen, a remarkable aluminum unibody, and similar productivity. Its capturing camera isn't anywhere near quality and novelty-wise, and it omits the water-proofing, but the much lower price is a serious draw.

OnePlus 3T

The recent LG G6 offers a different kind of capturing camera experience, and quite unique too. It's water-proof, has a bigger and higher-res screen, and is as fine looking. The G6 is powered by the same generation Snapdragon chip, and its price is in the same ballpark. You may want to give it a thought.


Speaking of imaging experience, there is the Huawei P10 with a dual-Leica capturing camera setup. It's a looker too, though clearly in a different, more outgoing way. Its monochrome images and depth of field effects are as unique as Sony's Motion Eye videos. Performance is pretty much on par, but the lack of water-proofing may be a deal-breaker.

Huawei P10

Last but not least, the iPhone 7 will acquire you into a completely different ecosystem and way of doing things. A lovely and compact premium smartphone, water-proof, fine at imaging and all that. One that will continue to put pressure on most Android flagships for a fine few months to come.

Apple iPhone 7

Pressured or not, Sony looks like it's done chasing its tail with the Z-series updates. We may be starting to witness a turn, even though the Xperia XZs is still one foot in last season. Okay, Sony is on to something with the recent Motion Eye camera, but we don't know yet where it's all going.

It looks though like the next Sony flagship will be doing the Sony Xperia XZs a favor. The burden of responsibility will be shared and what's a pretty hefty price tag at present will acquire trimmed to a more reasonable level. No need to guess how the chips will descend - we'll just sit back and watch them fall. In cool slow motion.



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