Remember how cool the Xperia Z was? It blew us away. Surely the follow-up album — the Xperia Z1 — has to be incredible, right?
Turns out that it knocks your socks of on paper. It's packing a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a 3000mAh battery. The most impressive improvement is the camera, which is a 20.7-megapixel shooter with a whole lot of tech behind it.
The camera boasts a 1/2.3-inch sensor, roughly on par with the one in the Galaxy S4 Zoom. It's no Nokia 1020, but then that's a high bar to jump. Still, it's one of the beefiest cameras we've even seen on an Android phone. And it's got some fun features too, including a burst option which lets you fire off 30 shots with a single press of a button.
Best of all, amidst all these improvements, Sony hasn't forgot to waterproof and dustproof the handset to make it as rugged as it is powerful. In fact, Sony recognised that people wanted to start taking photos underwater with their Xperia Z handsets, and as a result has added a brand new camera button onto the side of the device to make that easier. Thanks guys!
When you hold it in your hand, it feels like the natural evolution of the Xperia Z: bigger screen, faster performance and as beautiful as ever. The only weird thing about holding it is that it's missing a pretty sizeable divot out of the middle thanks to the compatibility with a new magnetic charging dock. It's the only blemish on this beautiful phone.
There are also new features in the UI, like Social Live for broadcasting your life and live camera feed straight onto your Facebook page for example, Info Eye for exploring points and objects of interests right from your camera view. Almost like Lumia City Lens meets Google Goggles. The Z1 also has Timeshift Burst for capturing 61 images within 2 seconds and never missing that shot. There’s also AR Effect which uses the AR engine to create characters and effects live on your phone, similar to Sony Wonderbooks.
I think the only disappointing thing about the Z1 is the gravitas it lacks. What excited us about the Sony Xperia Z was that it was a huge leap forward. Sony bounded out of using Xperia for a brand that sucked and started actually making good phones under that banner. The Xperia Z was the best of Sony in a smartphone, and it signalled that the magic was back.
The magic still exists in the Z1, but it's still an incremental upgrade. New camera, larger screen, better processor: it's following the motions rather than demonstrating another great leap forward. Leaping forward with every single smartphone is unsustainable, but all we're saying is don't put expectation on the Z1 to blow you away like its Dad did.
If you want to be wowed by a device, go look at the Xperia Z Ultra, which lives up to its name in every way possible.
The Z1 is a great little device that we're really looking forward to.
Pre-orders for the Xperia Z1 will be available from Optus on 16 September. Register your interest with Optus here.
Pre-orders with Virgin Mobile Australia will be available from 6 September here. The Sony Xperia Z1 will be available for $0 per month on the Virgin Mobile $60 Plan (min. total cost is $1440 over 24 months). Customers who pre-order the Sony Xperia Z1 with Virgin Mobile will receive a bonus Sony NFC Speaker Ball.
You can also register their interest for the Xperia Z1 with Telstra here.
More details around pricing and in-store availability are due in the coming weeks.
Eric Limer also contributed to this report.