The Xperia XZs, as its name suggests, is a smaller version of the Xperia XZ Premium. It is made for those who prefer compact high-end phones. While it’s not the latest Snapdragon 820 chipset may not appeal to the performance junkies, it does impress the shutterbugs with its 19-megapixel camera that can shoot slow motion videos at 960fps. But is it enough to justify the phone's Rs 50,000 price tag? Let’s find out:
The Xperia XZs continues Sony's "omnibalance" design language seen in all its high-end phones. Although there's nothing wrong with the design, it has been done to the death for years. It has reached a point where even ardent Sons can't differentiate between different Xperia phones.
With Samsung absolute killing it with the S8 design, Sony's phone looks stuck in the past. The large bezels look like an eyesore. What's worse is that Sony doesn't even utilise the large bezel to accommodate capacitive navigation keys. The company continues to use on-screen keys.
Moving on to the build quality, Sony has done a great job. With its metallic trim, the XZs feels classy to hold. Much like its predecessors, the XZs comes with IP68 certification. You don't have to worry about protecting it against water and dust.
While most brands still debating whether the fingerprint sensor should be placed on the front or at the back, Sony has embedded in the power button. Surprisingly, it took just two days for me to get used to this new fingerprint scanner position. And now that I have been using the phone for close to a month, I can safely say you will not face a major issue with the location of the fingerprint scanner.
The phone sports a 5.3-inch Full HD display. The IPS (In Pane Switching) screen offers pixel density of 424ppi. The phone also gets Sony’s proprietary X-Reality colour enhancement feature that's automatically triggered during media consumption.
For an LCD screen, the blacks are decent. Don't expect it to compete with OLED displays though. Overall, I still feel Sony’s displays are a notch below the ones found on similarly-priced handsets from the likes of LG and Samsung.
The Xperia XZs runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat out-of-the-box. In recent years, Sony has toned down its customisation. In XZs, it comes close to the near-stock Android appearance. The app drawer has a search functionality which is helpful when you have too many apps installed.
A split screen mode is also present and can be invoked when a supported app is running. However, there is no clear demarcation between the apps that support split screen and the ones that do not. You will need to try out each one of them to figure that out.
The UI supports themes, and there are a plethora of themes available for download from Sony’s own store. The phone also comes with other Sony apps such as Sony LIV app and Xperia Lounge.
The Xperia XZs is powered by the Snapdragon 820. It packs in 4GB RAM and Adreno 530 GPU. Considering that most top-end phones feature the newer Snapdragon 821 or 835 chips, don't expect it to compete with the likes of Galaxy S8.
In normal usage though, the phone sails through without breaking a sweat. There's no sign of slowdowns in multi-tasking. The phone has a heating issue though. Especially, when you are using the camera app. Many a times, I received a system warning about the rising temperatures just a few seconds after I open the camera. While it would manage to take some images or a short video, the moment I stop the recording, the camera app would automatically shut down with a message stating that it was being shut down due to the heat.
The 19-megapixel camera with 1/2.3" sensor is equipped with EIS (Electronic Image Stabilisation). The camera takes impressive shots in daylight and brightly lit conditions with great dynamic range. However, in low-light, you get significant noise. The 13-megapixel front camera is good enough for selfies.
While Sony has throw-in plenty of neat features, most of these features are hidden in sub-menus. One major issue I had with the camera software was the 4K mode, which for some reason is a separate app grouped with the likes of the AR Effect, Panorama, Sound Photo modes. You will not find the option to change to 4K video within the video resolution mode.
The star of the show is the ultra slow-motion mode. The phone records 720p videos at 960fps or 120fps. To record a video at 960fps, you need steady hands or better still a tripod. When done right, it produces amazing effects.
The phone only packs-in a 2900mAh battery. Unsurprisingly, the XZs struggles to last even a day on a full charge. Sony has provided a plethora of options within the software to help you eke out the most from the handset’s battery. With the stamina mode turned on for example, you can expect the phone to last much longer than a day. However, this also means you refrain from using most of the features the handset was designed for.
The Xperia XZs is pegged at Rs 50,000. That is a lot of money to dole out for a phone that uses a slightly older processor. Not to mention has a tendency to heat up when you attempt to use its most-touted feature – the 960fps slow-motion video.
Even for a user who wishes to upgrade from the Xperia XZ from last year, the XZs does not offer a compelling upgrade package, save for the ultra slow-motion video mode. More importantly, it is the competition that makes the XZs look bad. By shelling out a few more grand, you can go for Samsung's latest and the greatest S8.
Pros: Stunning 960 FPS slow motion, Great build quality, Water and dust proof, Zippy software.
Cons: Heating issues, Poor battery life, Low-light camera performance.
—By Chandrakant ISI, MSP...