Sony Xperia Z1: Megapixel Warrior

Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1

Ambarin Afsar tests the Sony Xperia Z1, a cameraphone that packs in 20.7MP and marks Sony’s return to the megapixel wars.

The Xperia Z1 launch shows that Sony is serious about smartphones and importantly, cameraphones. This update of the Xperia Z can easily compete with some of the biggest contenders in the game, namely, the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and it leaves little to be desired.

An Unforgettable Xperiance
Yes, I know that sounds cheesy, but I really had a lot of fun shooting with this phone.The Z1 has a lot to improve in terms of low light capabilities, especially compared to the HTC One, which I had tested and loved. The colours, sharpness and contrast looked so good on the screen that I couldn’t help but spend a lot of time reviewing my photos. The inbuilt picture editor also was quite good, and I found myself resorting to Snapseed only in rare cases. What surprised me, was the flash—it did a great job of balancing ambient light and gave colours that looked crisp. What was even more awesome was the dedicated two-stage camera button. It worked as a shortcut, taking me directly to the camera app, and focusing as well as releasing the shutter.

The overall autofocus performance was also quite good. I only found issues when I was shooting in low light.

I was very pleased with this 8MP image that I shot in the Auto mode. The colours are as they appeared in-camera. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

I was very pleased with this 8MP image that I shot in the Auto mode. The colours are as they appeared in-camera. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar



Overheating Woes

The 5-inch phone is quite slim already and quite sturdy, considering that it is waterproof. However, it heats up quite easily and the camera ends up shutting down repeatedly if you are shooting in blazing afternoon heat. You are given a warning and then the camera is out of commission till it cools down. We have not seen this in any other flagship smartphone we have tested.

Intelligent and Intuitive Auto Modes
If you don’t want to tinker with the Manual mode, you can just sit back and let the Smart Auto mode take control. It did pretty well in situations where I did not have the time to set the camera manually. However, you will only get 8MP images, as the camera downsizes the 20.7MP images when you are in any of the Scene or Auto modes.

Low Light Difficulties

What I found weird about the camera was that while its Exposure Compensation feature worked perfectly well in the afternoon, it seemed to give me the same results at +2 as it did at -2. However, when I switched from the Program mode to the High ISO mode, I got what I was looking for. This was strange because while the ISO is limited to 800 at 20MP in the Program mode, the shutterspeed could definitely go slower than 1/8sec. But it didn’t, and I had to resort to the considerably softened result from the High ISO mode.

A Warrior Who Needs Better Equipping
This phone has practically everything going for it in terms of daylight image quality. It is a great Android cameraphone by any standard, but the competition is fiercer than ever. If Sony wants to win this game, it needs to do more to win the upper hand.


At A Glance
20.7MP, 1/2.3-inch sensor, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, 2.2GHz quad core, 3000mAh battery, Rs. 46,990

What We Like
Great build quality, superb display, crazy Augmented Reality effects

What We Dislike
The Burst mode shoots 60 shots really fast but allows only one to be saved

Why Buy It?
Despite the glitches, it is the best Android cameraphone in the market, but
it certainly is not the best cameraphone around.


Final Ratings
Camera Features
Several fun modes, front 2MP camera also performs well

Image Quality
Best daylight quality in Android phones, low light not so good

Video Quality
Smooth footage, front camera records 1080p video

Decent battery life, phone feels really sturdy, but is too slim

Speed and Responsiveness
Speedy interface, great AF


Tags: Ambarin Afsar, November 2013, Cellphone reviews, Sony Xperia Z1