Sony Xperia Z1 review

The next level of Sony's Android ambitions or a needless mid-cycle vanity upgrade?

Sony Xperia Z1 review
The best of Sony in a smartphone? We'll leave it to you to decide

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SMS tool

Alternating colours keep texts threaded

Sony's adopted a nice burgundy colour to fill in the headers in both its email and SMS apps, which goes some way to making these text and list-based parts of Android look vaguely more interesting than usual.

The SMS tool alternates colours to keep messages threaded, plus there's a nice little bonus in here in the form of a sketch tool. Open this while composing a text and you can do a little drawing (probably of your genitals), which the phone converts to a multimedia message and attaches to the text.

Other SMS options include adding previously taken photos, opening the camera to take a snap live and have it instantly converted and attached. Plus there's a dead handy "Share my location" button that creates a shortcut to a URL of a Google Map of your precise location and whacks it into the SMS field for you. Which completely ruins games of hide-and-seek, but is very clever all the same.

Email app

The simplicity of the email app is a win

The standard email app is also a burgundy masterclass in understatement, and it's all the better for its simplicity. The email app sets itself up automatically using login credentials from most major email providers, plus there's Exchange ActiveSync in there in case anyone needs a reason to try and put the purchase of the phone down as a legitimate tax expense.

Sony's keyboard, which is custom in appearance and lacking the long-press alternative characters and numbers that many keyboards use, is bang up to date when it comes to making the best of text input on mobile too.


The keyboard makes the best of text input

The keyboard uses the gesture based, line drawing system for writing your words by drawing one continuous line from letter to letter, as popularised by third-party keyboard Swype. As well as this, it incorporates next word guessing, which analyses your typing style in an attempt to guess the next word you're about to write, a feature also pulled in from the unofficial keyboard word and used to such great effect in the SwiftKey app.

Both of these make typing simple, with the next word guessing ability often saving the day by managing to recreate a sentence you've previously typed - a joyous thing to discover when you've accidentally pressed back and quit an app and lost a chunk of text.

You can also find options for automatic space adding, full stop settings, word suggestion options and more, making it one of the more versatile keyboards out there and definitely worth sticking with.

The Sony keyboard's quick and lag free to use, although the haptic feedback is quite feeble even when turned up to the max.

Android's text management tools are really quite usable now, after taking a few frustrating years to come up with a system that works. Tapping on a word you've previously typed brings up a list of alternative suggestions to replace it with if you've made a typo, while a double-tap on any typed word pops up the copy and pasting menu, from where you're able to select a start and end point, then copy or cut the highlighted words, or paste whatever's already in the clipboard over the top.