“Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 4K HDR display, and 960fps slow-mo video recording… the XZ Premium is as premium as it can get”

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Almost an year and a half back, Japanese company Sony became the world’s first smartphone manufacturer to offer a 4K display with the Xperia Z5 Premium (first impressions) showcased in IFA, Berlin. In IFA 2016, the brand launched a new flagship in the form of the Xperia XZ (review). At MWC this year, it seems that it has merged these two smartphones to launch the Sony Xperia XZ Premium – the world’s first phone to offer a 4K HDR display. But that’s not the only ‘premium’ bit of the device. The phone is loaded in every aspect possible. Read our first impressions to find out more about it.

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium carries forward the design philosophy established by its predecessors. You get a rectangular slab with the display dominating the fascia, rounded aluminium frame, and minimal elements at the back. The power switch on the right also acts as a fingerprint reader, and you also get a dedicated shutter button on the smartphone.

The smartphone fits in hand well, although the weight seems to be on the higher side as it tips the scale at 195g. The phone is not really slim either with a thickness of 7.9mm. While the Sony Xperia XZ Premium nestles in the hand well, it’s quite slippery… and the reason for that is the glass back. In fact, the phone can actually act as a mirror because it’s so shiny and reflective – which looks good to eyes, but catches fingerprints and smudges quite easily.

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The highlight of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is of course its display. The 5.5-inch screen packs in an incredible resolution of 3,840 x 2,560 pixels, offering impressive sharpness. But unlike last time, Sony isn’t just focussing on just sharpness, it also promises good saturation and contrast levels with support for HDR video. Compatible content from apps like Amazon Prime Video would let users enjoy an immersive experience even on the go. Even if the content you are playing isn’t 4K, the X-Reality engine under the hood will upscale it to offer an enhanced output.

Of course, we still can’t tell a 2K display apart from a full HD panel, let alone a 4K resolution-toting screen. However, HDR does offer a lot of improvement, and the colours pop out on the display.

Compared to last year’s flagship from the brand’s stable, Sony is opting for top-of-the-line specs. The device is among the first ones to come with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, which offers four Kryo 280 cores clocked at 2.45GHz. The four low-power cores run at 1.9GHz. Coupled with 4 gigs of RAM, the phone should fly with any tasks thrown at it. For storage, you get 64GB of expandable memory on board.

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Sony’s phones have been infamous for their heating issues, and the manufacturer might have been able to solve that issue for the Xperia XZ Premium. As per the teardown, Sony has kept the camera module separate from the CPU and GPU, three things that are responsible for heating up a device the most. There’s also a heat pipe which tries to cool down the smartphone real-time.

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In terms of the cameras, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium features an unconventional resolution of 19-megapixels at the back. The primary snapper packs in everything you’d expect from a flagship – optical image stabilisation, laser autofocus technology, and 4K video recording, among other things. However two of the most exciting things about the shooter is predictive capture and super slow motion video recording. The first option is enabled by default and is a godsend if you love capturing action shots. The Motion Eye camera on the smartphone automatically detects motion and captures it even before you clicking on the shutter button. Thus it captures four images in quick succession to ensure that fast action isn’t missed, and you can choose the best image out of the lot or just save all of them. The Super slow motion video recording on the other hand, clicks an HD video at 960fps – slowing down even the fastest of actions. Though we only got a demo of these features on the XZ Premium’s sibling, the XZs (first impressions), they’d work the same on this device. The front 13MP camera seems capable of capturing nice selfies.

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Keeping the phone up and running is a 3,230mAh battery, which should last a day considering that the display has 1080p resolution by default and pushes 4K pixels only when a UHD content is being played. Our demo unit was running a pre-production version of the software, so we weren’t able to check that out. But you do get the latest version of Android, i.e. Nougat on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. In the connectivity department, the phone supports all the usual options, but it’s also future-proof with its X16 modem offering Gigabit-class speeds.

While Sony might have been able to offer the latest chipset from Qualcomm, that might remain a vanity record because it won’t be the first smartphone with SD835 to go on sale. Those bragging rights would probably go to the Samsung’s Galaxy S8. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is expected to be available to buy before June, but it’s pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Photos by Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

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