Sony's new flagship phones bring minor upgrades and more of the same
As it usually does, Sony has chosen the IFA expo in Berlin to debut its flagship phones for the year, announcing the Xperia XZ1 and the Xperia XZ1 Compact earlier today. They don't offer huge upgrades over last year's models, but could have enough to tempt Sony loyalists into a purchase.
Last year's models, to recap, were the original Xperia XZ and the Xperia X Compact. They were followed by the Xperia XZ Premium that launched at Mobile World Congress, an upgrade in all kinds of departments, including the display and the camera.
In fact the XZ Premium that first appeared in February is still just about the best Sony phone you can buy, with the new Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact slotting in somewhere just below.
There's a lot that's similar in these new phones, apart from the size. Both rock the familiar Snapdragon 835 CPU and 4 GB of RAM combination we've seen in many a flagship this year (indeed the XZ Premium uses the same combination). Both feature a 19-megapixel rear-facing camera, and both come running Android Oreo out of the box, with speedy OS updates promised in the future.
As is its wont, Sony has focused heavily on the cameras, adding 5-axis image stabilization and the option to record slow-motion clips at up to 960 frames-per-second. Another party trick is the option to create 3D scans of objects, from human heads to bowls of fruit.
Other features ticked off by both handsets include IP68 water and dust protection, USB-C and 3.5 mm audio ports, a 2,700 mAh battery, and microSD card expandability. The designs are pretty similar too, and Sony has shunned this year's smartphone trend of banishing the bezels from the front of the device.
So what are the differences? The full-sized XZ1 has a 5.2-inch, 1080p screen compared to the 4.6-inch, 720p screen of the XZ1 Compact, and the bigger phone offers 64 GB of internal storage compared to the smaller phone's 32 GB (don't forget you can expand that with a memory card if needed).
All of which makes these pretty minor bumps over last year's models, with slightly faster innards just about the main feature. With its 4K screen, you might consider buying the XZ Premium over both of these phones if you want something really top-end.
The phones will probably have most appeal for those who love Sony's design approach or who want flagship specs inside a smaller phone – the XZ1 Compact is one of very few models that now combine high-end processing power with a screen size under 5 inches.
Off contract, you'll be able to pick up the XZ1 for around US$700 and the XZ1 Compact for around $600, according to Sony, with release dates still to be confirmed. Black, blue, silver, turquoise, pink and red are the colors you can pick from.