The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is a genuine flagship smartphone. It boasts a market-leading 4K display, the latest high-end power under the hood and Sony’s professional photography heritage, including super slow motion capture, round the back.
[Update: Sony has rolled out the Android 8.0 Oreo update to the Xperia XZ Premium, bringing with it the latest features and security updates. Keep an eye on MWC 2018 at the end of February though, as its successor may launch at the show.]
There’s a lot to like about the XZ Premium on paper – but a feature-packed spec sheet doesn’t always produce the top-notch experience we’ve come to expect from high-end smartphones.
Sony is still stuck in a bit of a design rut, and it’s struggling to compete with the might of Apple and Samsung, while the likes of LG, Huawei and Motorola continue to offer stiff competition.
The Xperia XZ Premium is Sony’s chance to put itself firmly back on the smartphone map, but has it succeeded?
Sony Xperia XZ Premium price and release date
- Launch price: £649 ($799, about AU$1,100) SIM-free
- Current price: £499 ($540, about AU$700) SIM-free
- Release date: June 2017
This will likely come as no surprise, but this was not a cheap phone at launch. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium price initially was £649 ($799, around AU$1,100), which saw it rub shoulders with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 Plus in terms of cost.
The good news is that, since its June 2017 arrival, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium price has now dropped and, if you shop around, can be found for £499 ($540, about AU$700) SIM-free.
It means contract deals are also more attractive now, if you'd rather spread the cost over a couple of years. If you are considering picking up the Xperia XZ Premium though, you may want to hold on a little bit.
Sony is tipped to launch the successor to the handset (the XZ Premium 2) at MWC 2018 at the end of February, so an even better version could be available to you very soon. if the new version doesn't take your fancy, it'll likely drive the price of the current XZ Premium down further.
Find out what the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is like to live with by watching our 'week with' video.
- Glass, metal and plastic build isn't the most premium
- Side-mounted fingerprint scanner is useful
- SIM slot is fiddly
Dimensions: 156 x 77 x 7.9mm
OS: Android 8
Screen size: 5.46 inches
Resolution: 2160 x 3840
CPU: Snapdragon 835
Rear camera: 19MP
Front camera: 13MP
Sony's phone may be Premium in name, but it's not overly so in nature. When it comes to design the Sony Xperia XZ Premium leaves something to be desired compared to its flagship rivals.
The Gorilla Glass 5 front and rear at least provides some tough protection, but the sides of phone are noticeably plastic, and it’s this material which you feel when you hold the phone.
It’s a shame, as it makes the handset feel cheaper than it is – something you don’t want when spending top dollar – and the flat front and back means it doesn’t nestle in the hand as neatly as some of the more curved devices on the market.
We found the glass was a real fingerprint magnet – much like the Galaxy S8 and Jet Black iPhone 7 – so it can quickly end up looking messy.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium hands on gallery
There’s also a lot of bezel around the display, which pushes the dimensions of the XZ Premium to 156 x 77 x 7.9mm, making it taller and wider than the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8 – phones which boast bigger screens than the Sony.
These bezels do allow for stereo front-facing speakers, and provide space for you to hold the phone in landscape orientation when gaming or watching videos without your fingers blocking the display.
The power button on the right of the handset also falls nicely under thumb when held in your right hand, or finger when in your left hand, and it’s enhanced by the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner built into the key, allowing you to unlock the phone without entering a pin, pattern or password.
We found it was fast at unlocking most of the time, but every now and then we’d have to have a second attempt to get it to register.
It’s worth noting that previous fingerprint-reading Sony handsets have dropped the digit scanner tech for their US models, so there’s no guarantee that if/when the Xperia XZ Premium hits the US it’ll have the feature.
The top and bottom edges of the XZ Premium are metal, and we’d have liked to have seen this finish extend up the sides of the phone, as it would have provided a better look and feel in the hand. On the base of the handset there’s a USB-C port while on top there’s a headphone jack – which will please those who have watched in horror as Motorola and Apple removed it from their phones.
Another positive with the Xperia XZ Premium is its IP68 dust and water resistance, which means it’ll survive a dip in the bath and heavy rain – just don’t go deep-sea diving. The IP protection only affords the phone protection up to depths of 1 meter in fresh water.
Something else that's slightly disappointing is the SIM and microSD flap and tray. The plastic insert feels fragile, plus it only has space for the microSD card. The separate SIM tray (which is under the same flap) requires you to dig a nail into the side of the phone and tease it out.
For many this will be an operation they'll only need to perform a couple of times, but the plastic flap feels like it could prove a weak link in the water-resistant chain if you’re someone who swaps microSD cards on a regular basis.
Lined up alongside its peers the Sony Xperia XZ Premium doesn’t quite pull off the same flagship finesse – and even more affordable handsets, such as the OnePlus 3T and Honor 8, have arguably smarter finishes.
- 5.46-inch 4K HDR display
While the design of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium may not set it apart, its screen is certainly in a league of its own.
Following on from the Xperia Z5 Premium, the XZ Premium is Sony’s second smartphone to boast a 4K display backed up by the firm’s Bravia TV tech – and in most markets it'll be the only phone you’ll find with such a resolution.
That equates to a resolution of 3840 x 2160, which when stretched over 5.46 inches gives you an eye-popping pixel density of 807ppi. To put that in perspective, the beautiful Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8 manages 570ppi, while the LG G6 gives up 564ppi.
You won’t find a sharper screen on another smartphone, and unlike its 4K-toting predecessor you actually get the full resolution all the time. The Z5 Premium would only deliver the full 4K experience when you were watching video of the same resolution, whereas on the new Xperia XZ Premium it’s 3840 x 2160 all the way – from the home screen and browser to the app store and your social media profiles.
There's no option in the settings to reduce the resolution of the display to save processing power and battery life, where as the QHD toting Galaxy S8 does give you the option.
On the Xperia XZ Premium though, we didn't find a need to have the resolution reduced at any point as the battery life was pleasing. You can find out just how well it lasted later on in this review.
The screen panel uses LCD technology, delivering a crisp, clear image; it doesn’t have quite the same pop as the AMOLED displays found on the Galaxy S8, Moto Z and OnePlus 3T, but the Triluminos Display technology does enhance colors over standard LCD panels. This is a screen you’ll still want to ogle.
It also feels a little small, especially now that the 5.7-inch LG G6 and 5.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S8 have started to break new ground when it comes to screen size in 2017.
That said, if you haven’t had the luxury of using those phones yet, you’ll still find the Xperia XZ Premium provides ample space – especially if you’re upgrading from a two-year-old phone.
While it's certainly nice to say your phone packs a 4K resolution, the reality is it offers very little over and above the excellent QHD displays you get on the likes of the Galaxy S8, LG G6 and HTC U11.
Watch 4K content on the Xperia XZ Premium and it's one of the best visual experiences you can get from a smartphone - but finding that content isn't easy, and there's actually not all that much readily available.
Sony will argue that the XZ Premium is future proofed, as 4K content will only increase in availability - which is true - but at this screen size QHD usually more than suffices.