Sony Xperia Z1: Hands-on & Camera Demo

Sony’s latest flagship, the Xperia Z1 has been one of the most leaked smartphones this year. Codenamed Honami, Sony Xperia Z1 garnered all the attention for its 20.7 MegaPixel camera before and after the announcement, which happened at IFA 2013 in Berlin last week. The phone has top notch specs in all regards, but will still be known for its camera. We got our hands on with the beast while we were at IFA 2013 last week, and were very impressed with what we saw.


Xperia Z1 takes the flagship mantle from the Xperia Z smartphone, which was announced at CES earlier this year. The design language of Xperia Z1 is very similar to its predecessor. It’s slightly bigger with 5-inch Full HD Triluminous display and just around 8.5mm in thickness. The phone is powered by the current favorite, Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm, clocked at 2.2GHz, and 2GB of RAM. Sony is playing it safe by keeping the clock-speed at the low-end of Snapdragon 800, just like what they did with the Xperia Z Ultra phablet.

First Impressions

At 170 grams, this isn’t the lightest smartphone you’d see in the market these days. It looks and feels quite heavy, but that’s possibly because Sony is beefing up the battery with a whopping 3000 mAh pack, which should be good enough to run a 5-inch 1080p display. Sony retains the glass panel for the back, which is still the same fingerprint magnet we saw on Xperia Z and Xperia Z Ultra. It comes with a microSD slot, but battery is not removable. Xperia Z1 is completely waterproof, which is kind of a big deal for a smartphone.

With our little testing at IFA, the UI and UX on Xperia Z1 felt really smooth and slick. There was no lag whatsoever while opening or closing of apps. Sony has kept things simple in terms of skinning. It looks and feels exactly like the one we saw in Xperia Z, though the Xperia Z1 will be running the latest Android 4.3 out of the box.

20.7 MP Camera

The best part of Sony Xperia Z1 has to be the camera. No, it’s not just because Sony has bumped up the megapixel count to a whopping 20.7 from the earlier 13MP on Xperia Z. It’s because Xperia Z1’s camera captures some awesome images. Also, Sony has beefed up the Camera UI significantly. It comes with all the bells and whistles you expect to see in a top-end smartphone these days, like the burst mode, panorama mode, action shot and others. In addition, Sony is trying to innovate with features like Info-eye, Social live and AR effect.

Sony is mimicking Nokia by letting developers create apps and add-ons directly to their camera app. This is very similar to the camera lenses on Nokia’s Lumia series. Third party apps like Motiongraph and FxGuru are available as well. But the best part is Sony’s own Superior Auto mode, which instantly gauges the lighting conditions and changes the exposure/ISO settings to get the best picture in auto mode. I was very impressed with how superior auto worked on Xperia Z1. If you are someone who likes to take control of the camera, the manual mode lets you play around all the settings.