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Sony Xperia XZs review: Slick design, good performance and an excellent camera

The highlight of the Xperia XZs is the new Motion Eye camera setup on the rear.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 04, 2017, 08.09 AM IST
The highlight of the Xperia XZs is the new Motion Eye camera setup on the rear.
The highlight of the Xperia XZs is the new Motion Eye camera setup on the rear.
Price: ​Rs 49,990

Specifications: 5.2-inch IPS (1920 x 1080 pixels), Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, dual SIM, expandable storage, 19MP Motion Eye camera with phase detection and laser autofocus, 13MP front camera, 4G, VoLTE, WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, USB Type-C port, fingerprint sensor, Android 7.1, 2,900mAH battery, 161 grams

Late last year when we reviewed the Sony Xperia XZ, we concluded that the device was a good performer but in typical Sony fashion, the price was a bit unpalatable. Sony announced a successor to the Xperia XZ a few months back called the Xperia XZs.

There is no change in the design or appearance of the Xperia XZs compared to the Xperia XZ. It has the same curved sides (Sony calls it a loop surface design) with matte finish on the back panel. Sony is one of the few brands that offers a dedicated shutter button for the camera on their smartphones — this is a feature we love — it should be available on a lot more phones. The power button is on the right hand side with an integrated fingerprint scanner, like many Sony Xperia phones. While the quality of the hardware is great, the positioning still feels odd to us and renders the scanner almost useless for left handed users. It has a 5.2-inch IPS display (1920 x 1080 pixels) with great brightness levels, excellent sunlight legibility and wide viewing angles. The slim bezels further enhance the look of the phone. The front also has dual speakers — above and below the display.

The highlight of the Xperia XZs is the new Motion Eye camera setup on the rear. In terms of technical specifications, it has a 19MP sensor with f2.0 aperture, predictive and laser autofocus along with an RGBC-IR sensor. It skips the optical image stabilization which is a huge letdown in our opinion, especially given the price. Predictive autofocus is another new feature on the phone — in layman terms, the camera automatically detects a moving object in camera mode and starts recording before your press the shutter button. This gives you the advantage of having multiple captures to choose the best one. Since this kicks in automatically, the results are 50-50. We did get useful captures at times while at other times it proved to be useless.

Image quality from the Xperia XZs was great outdoors as well as indoors. What impressed us further were the crisp details, natural colours and great results in HDR. The focus speed and shutter speed is also zippy. However, in low light, the images have lots of noise. Same goes for the 13MP front camera for selfies — good details when there is enough light around, but in low light image quality suffers. The feature that Sony talks about the most is slow motion videos in 960 fps (720p resolution) — it is the first phone to offer this feature. The slow-motion video results are a mixed bag. The concept itself is amazing but your subject needs to be well lit and you must time the recording to the second. This is because the app lets you record in 960 fps only for a split second. If you time it correctly, you can get a great slow-motion effect lasting about 2 to 5 seconds.

Overall, we feel the feature will interest a section of users but it’s not a very great selling point.

The phone does some fantastic 4k video recording as well — you can enable EIS (electronics image stabilization) for videos and the results are top notch. XZs comes with the same processor as the Xperia XZ — a Snapdragon 820. RAM has been bumped up to 4GB and internal memory is now 64GB. Needless to say, these specifications are good enough for most users. The phone has a 2,900mAh battery — with constant 4G connectivity, the phone managed to last from 9am to 6pm. Thankfully, it has a USB Type-C port with fast charging support.

We can’t help but think that this is not a true successor, simply because it doesn’t really bring in big changes. It’s more of an upgrade than a successor. It is still a very capable device and an all-round performer. The issue is that at for the asking price, there is nothing substantial to attract new consumers.

Take for instance, you can buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 with similar specifications and performance with a 2k screen and a superior rear camera (sans the slow-motion recording) for about Rs 43,000.

At about the same price you also have the option of LG G6 that has a 5.7-inch 2k Full vision display in roughly the same dimensions as the Xperia XZs. It has Snapdragon 821, dual 13MP cameras, water/dust resistance and Android 7.0.
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