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Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review: 960 fps Slo-Mo Beast

The Xperia XZ Premium is a powerhouse capable of shooting 960fps videos, the first of its kind, but is it good enough to tempt buyers?

While most people are still getting used to having a dual lens setup on smartphones, whether for wide angle shots, telephoto or for simulated bokeh shots, Sony is there developing a crazy 960fps camera to dramatise videos.

Super Slo-mo is not all the Xperia XZ Premium is all about though, it feels solid in hand and Sony has decided to stick to their design language without trying to copy others.

The Xperia XZ Premium feels premium but its clunky design is a letdown

The XZ Premium feels very sturdy and solid in hand weighing 195g and it’s about the same height and width as the iPhone 7 Plus at 156 x 77 x 7.9 mm. On the back, there’s a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 back panel and the XZ Premium is IP68 certified (dust/water proof over 1.5 meters and 30 minutes).

Elsewhere, you have a USB Type-C port located at the bottom of the device and thankfully, Sony didn’t ditch the 3.5mm headphone port which can be found up top. To the right, you have the power button, volume rockers, a dedicated camera button and on the left is where you can insert a micro sim and microSD card (supports up to 256GB).

Besides its 960fps super slo-mo video capability, the XZ Premium is also known for its 4K HDR display, designed for an immersive video experience, however, two things to mention here is that it doesn’t display everything in 4K HDR all the time or for every app to save battery life, and you will need to pay for the likes of Amazon Prime Video with 4K content to enjoy that level of graphics.

You will either love or hate the design

More on design, though, I have a love/hate relationship with the Xperia XZ Premium’s bezel; it’s clunky and can’t help but think Sony could have stretched out the display to compete with the likes of the Galaxy S8/S8plus and the LG G6.

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The XZ Premium also feels cumbersome to carry or use one-handed, especially with its square corners. Where the love/hate situation comes in, though, is that I still like how it feels in hand, it feels safe and compared to the Galaxy S8, I’m not too worried about dropping it.

One thing worth mentioning is that although the XZ Premium’s got large bezels, Sony has managed to put it to good use. You have two front facing/firing speakers which I feel is better for media consumption. Unlike the S8 or the iPhone with down firing speakers, it makes it harder for you to block it sound as you hold the phone.

It makes up for it with a good camera

Although the Xperia XZ Premium may not be able to compete with its outdated design, where it could possibly shine is with its 19MP 1/2.3” Exmor RS camera located on the back and a selfie shooter with a 13MP 1/3.06” Exmor RS lens.

The main camera features a 25mm wide G Lens with F2.0 aperture, while the front facing secondary camera is a 22mm Wide-angle lens with F2.0 aperture also. Rocking a good sensor, you can expect good low light shots and a good level of detail in any lighting condition.

During the launch of the Xperia XZ Premium, Sony mentioned two things with the camera that I find useful (more on camera performance later); a triple image sensing technology, predictive capture and what those two things do is (a) make sure you take sharp images or less blurry images and (b) make sure you never miss a moment.

Overall, the XZ Premium is definitely no Galaxy S8/S8plus when it comes to design and how naturally it fits in hand, but its 960 fps + large camera sensor may give it the upper hand for those who care more about the internals.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Processor and Battery performance

Design flaws aside, the Xperia XZ Premium is not lacking when it comes to performance, it runs on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 chip which is optimised using an energy efficient 10nm process technology and combined with 4GB of RAM, Android 7.1 Nougat runs buttery smooth.

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In fact, when the XZ Premium is subjected to the usual geekbench and Antutu benchmark tests, it scores really high, only running behind the Galaxy S8.

In reality, though, it’s not something you need to worry about as it will take on any games you throw at it and whether you’re running a processor intensive application or multitasking, you can expect the level of performance that you see in flagship devices these days.

As well as a big 3230 mAh battery, there’s also a Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 built-in so you can easily bump up your battery level.

Battery life is not an issue either; on my typical usage where I send a lot of emails, use Google Maps with data, tethering, gaming, a lot of social media activity, recording videos and capturing images, it lasts a day easily.

Where the battery begins to suffer is when you watch 4K content online, record high-resolution video content and using the XZ Premium’s included 960fps super slo-mo feature.

For longevity, the XZ Premium features a Battery Care mode which stops your device from charging beyond 90% and it will also intelligently learn about your charging routine in order to manage how quickly your phone is charged. This feature will ensure a long battery life especially if you were looking to keep it for over 24 months.

Xperia XZ Camera Performance
Locked and loaded with a 19MP 1/2.3” Exmor RS lens main camera and a 13MP 1/3.06” Exmor RS secondary lens, the XZ Premium is set to have a really good camera capabilities on paper.

Sony is pushing the 960fps too and as much as it sounds like an overkill, it’s Sony’s Premium range, built to have the best there is. It’s the first of its kind and to put it into perspective, the iPhone 7 Plus can do 720p HD at 240 fps.

There’s also a 5-axis stabilisation and 4K recording capability, so it’s definitely up there with every other top flagship devices out there, but in reality how well did it perform? Let’s go with examples and let it speak for itself:

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From the samples below, you can really see a wide range of how situations that the Xperia XZ Premium performs well in with no issues. The details are really good, the colours are very accurate with a good dynamic range and highlights are preserved.

960FPS Sample:

The Verdict: Is The Xperia XZ Premium worth buying?

With so many great Android smartphones out there right now, it’s hard to stand out and all manufacturers are looking for one way or the other to be different. What makes a good smartphone is a consistency across the board, from the design to how well it performs and not just on day one of using it, but throughout the life of the device.

The Xperia XZ Premium falls short when it comes to its design, it feels outdated when compared to the likes of the LG G6 and the Galaxy S8 and although Sony made a good use of the bezel, it’s still the extra space that most would have preferred to have stretched out.

The Xperia XZ Premium’s got a top of the range specs and what makes it really stand out is its 960fps camera output, but even then, it crops, quality is not good in low light and you have to practice a few times to get used to it.

So should you buy? That’s difficult to answer with the XZ Premium. If you want performance, HDR display (only for limited content), decent camera for stills, then yes, if you want something that feels comfortable in hand and maybe a design that’s slicker plus performance, then maybe see what else is out there.

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