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9 things to know about the Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Sony's latest flagship is the Xperia XZ Premium, and it's really nice. It's one of those phones you don't want to touch because it's so nice to look at. You may also not want to touch it because the damn thing is incredibly shiny, exposing fingerprints as well as any mirror. And it may not be worth buying because, well, there are just better devices out there at a lower price.

Interested in this phone? Here are a few things you need to know about Sony's best phone ever.

This is Sony's second 4K phone, but its first with HDR

Sony debuted the 4K smartphone in 2015 with the Xperia Z5 Premium, and this year's follow-up has a better, brighter 5.5-inch 4K panel with a trick up its sleeve: HDR support.

Content that supports HDR — High Dynamic Range — will look more vivid and colorful on the XZ Premium's 4K display. Let's just hope that app developers get up to speed with supporting it — Netflix, at the moment, still only supports the LG G6.

Beyond that, the screen itself is really good for daily use. It's bright, crisp and colorful — and Sony gives you a few display settings to tweak it how you want it to look.

The camera is new, but isn't the best

People don't buy phones; they buy cameras that connect to the internet. Sony understands this and has designed its devices around the camera experience for years. But as much as it's tried to outdo the likes of Samsung, LG, and Apple, it continues to come up short.

There's a massive speed improvement, but the end results aren't matching the competition.

Sony thinks the XZ Premium has what it takes to beat the competition in 2017 with a new "Motion Eye" camera setup that lowers the resolution from 23 megapixels to 19 while increasing the size of the individual pixels, ensuring improved low-light results. At the same time, a new connection between the camera sensor and the phone's memory allows for caching of photos — predictive capture, as it's called — five times faster than any previous Sony phone, so no frames are lost during quick-shutter action shots.

The results are good, but not great. This is indeed the fastest Sony camera we've seen yet when it comes to opening and capturing — whether it's a single shot or a burst. But the results are mixed, not necessarily jumping to the top of the heap with the leaders such as the Galaxy S8, LG G6 and HTC U11. Sony still highly over-sharpens photos in "auto" mode and requires tweaking in "manual" mode if you want anything better.

You can capture slo-mo video at 960fps

Yup. Insane.

It may only be 720p but think about the contrast between a regular 30fps capture and something as smooth as 960fps, slowed down to look great on this big, beautiful screen.

You can only take very short clips and it takes a bit of time to get used to how the interface for super-slow-motion works, but it's a great trick that sets the XZ Premium apart from most other phones.

The glass back is reflective AF

Seriously, this is just about the most reflective phone we've seen — right on par with the HTC U11. The Luminous Chrome variant is the worst offender, offering an easily-tarnished mirror finish that shows off every fingerprint.

As long as you're not too particular, and walk around with a microfiber cloth in your bag or pocket, the Xperia XZ Premium could stay pristine, but it's likely to pick up hairline scratches pretty quickly — a problem with all phones, but exacerbated by the reflectiveness of the Gorilla Glass 5.

You get dual speakers and a headphone jack

It's easy to complain about the size of the bezels above and below the XZ Premium's display, but Sony is at least putting part of that space to good use. In an increasingly rare combination, Sony includes both dual front-facing speakers and a headphone jack on the phone.

The speakers sound pretty good and of course have the direct advantage of firing toward you rather than down and away, though I have to say the volume doesn't top out as high as the HTC U11's combined speaker approach.

There's still no fingerprint sensor in the U.S.

Seriously Sony, this is getting ridiculous. We know there's some sort of contractual obligation that's limiting Sony's ability to include a fingerprint sensor in its U.S. phones, but consumers don't care about the reasoning — they just want a fingerprint sensor.

For a phone this high-end and expensive, it's just downright frustrating to not have this core smartphone feature found in phones as cheap as $200.

It's water resistant and dustproof

Like most Sony phones of the last few years, the Xperia XZ Premium is IP68 water resistant and dustproof. The ratings mean you can submerge the phone in up to one meter for an extended period without incurring damage. And, of course, there are no port covers to worry about.

More: What do IP ratings mean?

It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

We may be beyond it by the time the phone is released but the Xperia XZ is currently certified for Android 7.1.1 Nougat, which means that it will support all the latest goodies from Google, including rounded icons, image keyboards, and more.

Sony's skin continues to be very light and very fast, and there's no question that the company has learned its lesson in deviating too far from Google's recommendations. This isn't Samsung; Sony doesn't have the customer loyalty, nor the resources, to develop great custom skins, so the more it keeps to Google's Android the better.

Most of the XZ Premium's interface is unchanged from the Google Pixel, and the launcher even includes the Google Now feed to the left like Google's own launchers. Sure you get some Sony apps and icons, but it's nothing offensive or getting in your way. And of course because Sony sells unlocked and not through carriers, you don't get any extra carrier bloatware.

The price is high — probably too high

As you'd expect for a phone with the title "Premium" right in the name, the Xperia XZ Premium is expensive. It goes on sale in the U.S. on June 12, and the price tag is $799. That's the upper edge of what most people are willing to pay for a phone — the only other mainstream offering challenging that price is the Galaxy S8+ at $825.

With a price like that, it makes you really question whether the Xperia XZ Premium could be a true competitor. For all of its great improvements, features, and design, it still has a handful of missteps that are tough to overlook when there are other great phones out there for less money.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

29 Comments
  • What a crap review on Sony once again. Yes I agree for it not being marketed well and no carriers carrying it, I do feel it's a bit overpriced. However the phone is good and honestly the camera does rank up their with the iphones, S8's etc. Go look it up and watch the reviews and comparisons. The camera has a lot of capability as well in the manual mode. I have the XZS and it's fantastic! I am a graphic designer with photography classes under my belt and I am very happy with the photos. My wife has an S7 and I've done comparisons my self. Both are great. Sorry but the S8 really isn't much better than the S7. Sure the HTC U11 is the highest ranked right now, but lets see how that pans out.
  • 1) this isn't a review 2) I don't have to "look it up" to see what the camera does ... I have the phone. The issue is the extreme over-sharpening and weak low light performance. Manual mode is a must to get a good photo out of this thing, and even then I don't think it's as consistent or high quality as the other flagships out there.
  • 1, You did review it. Maybe not in depth but you did. Stating what is bad, good etc is a review. What do you cal lit?
    2. Then it's presonal preference. Which honestly a lot of them are now. So many are so close that really it comes down to what your eye enjoys and sees. However, Sony has a much more realistic feel to me. Samsung blows their colors out like crazy, almost to where they look fake blah blah blah, I could go on and on and each model brand etc but I don't feel the need to because I am sure you are an expert right? So to each their own! Thanks
  • Lol u ppl that don't agree with posts better chill out... Reviewers aren't having it anymore lol
  • I thought about the XZ Premium as my next phone, but the Essential Phone seems like a better way to spend the money this year. Sent from my Sony Xperia X Compact
  • How's the performance on the X Compact? I've considered it if I can import a model with the fp sensor working. Though whether or not it'll get O makes me a bit hesitant.
  • You might wanna wait. The internet is having a bit of a laugh at the pretty poor images the Essential president shot on the PH-1 and uploaded to Twitter. Remains to be seen whether the final product will have drastically improved processing. I hope it does, because that camera performance is embarrassing.
  • 1 - The camera still s*cks. Lacks OIS and the software is horrendous in all aspects. 2 - Still no wireless charging 3 - Still using crappy LCD instead of AMOLED 4 - Still bigger than necessary. Sony loves bezels. 5 - Still horrible near-stock Android on board. Sony built a theme engine for AOSP... and doesn't really use it. 6 - If you're picky about updates... You're in for a treat as Sony is terrible at that. 7 - You remember the days when Sony put quality DACs on their phones? Good. Keep that memory for it is all you have now. 8 - You'll be paying a lot for this phone. But don't expect good customer support. In fact, pray you won't need it. 9 - Oh, by the way... Your phone will be "obsolete" 3 months from now. Enjoy!
  • Not even going to respond to some of this. Some funny stuff there. And I agree it may be obsolete in 3 months or whatever, but I don't think that's bad. I still the S7 is a great phone etc. This can be said for many, sure it's out of date but it doesn't make it a bad phone. Anyway I do like Nokia! Hopefully their upcoming phones can stand out! Love to go back to a Nokia some day!
  • I'm getting the 6. Would be interesting to see how it fares. I'm optimistic from what I've read.
  • I'm very likely going to get the Nokia 5 in Blue. Because it's gorgeous.
    I *might* get the Arte Black Nokia 6 too but it will depend on price and availability... Because I'm not buying either of them to actually use them lol
  • I wrote "obsolete" in brackets for a reason ;) It's not that the phone won't still be top spec'ed or anything. No it's just that Sony will replace it with something else in 3 months and every time they do that, the previous phone enters the neglect cycle. It starts getting everything later and later etc. As for the upcoming Nokias... To be honest with you, from what I've seen, I've been more optimistic about them. I do hope to get back to a Nokia as soon as possible but I can tell you now that if what I saw is the flagship that's released, I'm keeping the S7 for another year. Because what HMD will release is nowhere near good enough to replace Samsung's flagship from 2016 (and certainly won't threat the S8 for people who love oversized phones).
  • Well, OIS or the lack of it isn't the be-all and end-all for cameras. It definitely helps in low-light, yep, but with some software tricks, you can squeeze out some nice low-light photos as well. Such as image stacking, which is what the "Handheld Twilight" mode on my a6000 does.
  • Well, OIS is make or break on smartphones though. Because even with software tricks, the small sensors and lenses are very very unstable. A point and shoot has the benefit of bigger hardware. But then again, even IF you could get away without OIS (the capable camera on the iPixel does for daylight) we'd need Sony to be able to do mobile camera software. And I think both of us have been sitting, watching them, long enough to know that won't happen.
  • Until Sony can include a fingerprint sensor I'm not buying.... And I'm a huge Sony fan. Still pulling for them.
  • I can't remember the dealings with sony and the finger print scanner...is it a copyright infringement? or something else? the company that is blocking them...Just forward some money to them for the rights to use it.
  • yeah I think the contract or something was with verizon. It's supposed to end soon I think. In a year or something. But who knows. Buy international versions. Fingerprints scanners work and so does everything else!
  • From experience I wouldn't do international again since they don't carry a warranty. Buy US version and flash the UK firmware. I have a Z5P that died and warranty was non existent. I would have had to have someone in Panama claim it and I bet I would have never seen it again. It's a paperweight now
  • After the first few words in the article I stopped reading. This site is clearly a SAMSUNG fanboy site. I happen to own the Xperia XZ Premium and it is by FAR the best phone I have ever owned and I have owned more than I care to relate. It is also (in my opinion) the best phone money can buy today! Get it from the UK and with the promotional toys it comes to less than $600.00 shipped, and the fingerprint sensor works great. Now as to the issue of it getting full of fingerprints while in use, are you saying that all the other glass backed phones are not fingerprint magnets???? Samsung sheep site!
  • I had the Z5P and a Z3 before. Sony makes really good phones and I just don't understand the hate they get. I'm gonna get the XZ or XZs when they drop in price next year. I'm done with shelling out 700 for new phones.
  • Probably due to the value equation. Last year's XPERIA X line wasn't exactly good on the value front, at least when new.
  • Now you can get a X performance for 350 and that's what I'm talking about. I got a friend in the market now for a phone. NOW the X Performance is a value
  • Now it's pretty good value. But at launch, it was more of a laughing stock due to the price. Seems that their pricing is more in-line now.
  • Curious question. How does it render UHD? Does it kick in when you play content that's in UHD resolution (YouTube and more apps are supported for the XZP's display, which is great news), or does it render in UHD all the time? Can't find that in the Sony disclaimers and there's conflicting info on whether it renders in UHD all the time or whether it defaults to 1080p and goes UHD when playing a YouTube video in UHD for example. I'm just curious because I actually really like the phone. It's the first Sony in a while that has my interests.
  • Where did you find it for under $600 shipped, let alone with "promotional toys"? The lowest price I found was at Clove for just over $700 USD with no extras.
  • I find the camera description/mini review HILARIOUSLY wrong. Sony over sharpens? LOL. It does sharpen, yes, but the S8 sharpens so much you can actually see the halo-artifact typical of over sharpening if you zoom in, and it's quite bad. Low light - yes, handheld night photos do come out less sharp due to the lack of OIS, HOWEVER, if you want to use it professionally, and set it on Manual - and select Night Scene, the photos come out spectacularly clearer, more true to life as far as colors go, and have significantly less noise than the S8. No, I'm not just talking out of my sony fanboy ass, just check out GSMArena's indepth camera comparsion here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_XETBeUFoU . I'm really curios what the OP has to say about this video, and how he can still defend his most probably very superficial findings, since this is a black-on-white hd professional comparison by a pretty big name in the mobile journalism arena. One more thing, regarding the price - how is is too high? S8+ is more expensive, and the only thing the S8+ has over the XZ Premium is a bigger screen. The XZ Premium has higher resolution, more advanced camera tech AND crazy 960fps on top of the S8+. So calling it too high in this context is a much to subjective opinion to include given the above. Also, the XZ Premium is considerably faster in operation - check out this comparison for reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0b6oxPeJas8&t=42s . The only way you can call the XZ Premium "too expensive", in the context of all the aforementioned information, is if you're black on white biased towards the S8+. And as a serious journalist, you either state your bias, or try to be as objective as possible.
  • Well, have you ever heard of image stacking? Or the "Hand-held Twilight" mode on Sony dedicated cameras like my a6000? That could possibly be what Sony is using for its Night mode. If you can't have a single long exposure, then image stacking can help to a degree, depending on how many shots it takes. I used the XZs and there's definitely a Moiré effect when zoomed. Not as bad as some previous XPERIAs, granted, and not totally uncommon, but it's something to note. And please don't judge a photo just by pixel-peeping. Photos should be judged by their entire composition, not just as a small area of it.
  • A small rebuttal on the camera. I think it requires more playtime. If you can play around with the many different scene modes, you can definitely make it work a lot better. Of course, it's not the most ideal since phone cameras should really achieve solid results without much effort. Though from my experience with the XZs (same Exmor RS sensor as on the XZ Premium), I think Sony just might have spruced up JPEG processing a little. Is it still overly sharp? Not to an extreme degree but quite a bit more than I would have liked but I'm still quite happy to have seen some improvement, probably a reflection on how Sony dedicated cameras also have improved JPEG processing. My only main gripe so far is the lack of RAW capture, at least one that is obvious. That option alone would have cleared most of my software processing niggles. Then again, I may be overly biased towards manual controls since my a6000 hardly leaves Manual mode and RAW capture.
  • Another quick question about dual sim sony phones. Do both sim cards run simultainiously? Like, can I put two sims in and receive calls from both cards? Also, are they both able to do at least 3g?