Sony Xperia XZ review

A flagship for Sony, but maybe not everyone

Sony Xperia XZ

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Interface, reliability and compatibility

  • Android 6 Marshmallow software, Android 7 out now
  • Looks a touch more like stock Android
  • Still a lot of bloatware

Sony is in the process of making its own Xperia user interface look and feel a little bit more like Google's stock Android platform. Compared to previous Sony phones, the interface on the Xperia XZ looks a little smoother than the normal Xperia UI, and that's a step most Android fans will appreciate.

That said, there is still a heavy overlay from Sony – for example, all your main apps, such as Messages, Phone and Contacts, are designed with Sony's own look.

Sony has also included a number of its own apps, including PlayStation, Xperia Lounge and Movie Creator. The best Sony-made app, PS4 Remote Play, is missing though, so you'll have to download it from the Google Play Store.

There's a touch of bloatware too, in the form of Amazon, Kobo and AVG apps, but these can be deleted if you particularly dislike them, or need the space.

Sony Xperia XZ

The Xperia XZ runs Android 6 Marshmallow out of the box. It's a shame Sony didn't see fit to include the latest Android 7 software at launch, but you can now download the latest software to the phone. We've yet to test out Android 7 on the Xperia XZ, but we plan to update this review very soon with details of how the new software works.

The Xperia XZ didn't crash under any usage scenarios during our review period – it seems to be a fully reliable phone, unlike the Xperia Z5 proved to be. Playing games such as Real Racing 3 and Reigns proved that the XZ is well capable of handling high-end gaming – more about that later.

There were a few occasions when apps loaded slowly, but so far we haven't had any significant problems with the XZ.

Movies, music and gaming

  • Weaker speaker setup than we would like
  • 32GB of storage, 256GB microSD support
  • Strong processor setup for gaming

The Sony Xperia XZ's Full HD screen is bright and quite large, making this a great choice if you're looking for a phone to watch a lot of movies and TV on.

Sony has included its Movies application for playing movies and videos, and this provides a TV programming schedule too. Google Play Movies and TV is also on the phone.

The speakers on the Xperia XZ are okay, but they're not improved upon from previous phones. Although the stereo effect can be good when you're watching films, we did struggle to hear the phone sometimes when playing audio.

Sony Xperia XZ

The top volume does feel a little stunted compared to some other flagship phones. It's certainly not as loud as the Galaxy S7 or the HTC 10.

Sony has included its own Audio app, which enables you to integrate Spotify streaming. It's more likely you'll use the normal Spotify or Google Play Music apps though, and both of these are included on the Xperia XZ out of the box.

You may find storage a bit of an issue – the Xperia XZ comes with 32GB as standard and there's no larger-capacity model, and it's not too hard to fill up 32GB given that Android takes up 10GB before you add any apps, music or movies.

But it shouldn't be too much of an issue with 256GB of microSD space available – if you're going to pack this phone full of media, just be sure to get yourself a large microSD card.

Sony Xperia XZ

We'll talk more about gaming in the following section – but the Xperia XZ will be able to handle any games you want to play on it. We experimented with all types of games, including Pokemon Go, Reigns and Real Racing 3, and none of them stuttered.

Plus there's the added benefit of PS4 Remote Play, which is a major bonus for anyone who owns both Sony's ultimate home gaming console and an Xperia smartphone – and this is one of the few phones you can currently use for Remote Play.

Specs and benchmark performance

  • Top of the range Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 3GB of RAM, much like previous Sony phones
  • Reliable performance – among the best

Sony's Xperia XZ can keep pace with any other phone you'd be tempted to buy right now, and will do everything you need it to do without complaint.

It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset – which is one of the best on the market right now – working in tandem with 3GB of RAM. You may see some phones with 4GB or 6GB of RAM on board, but 3GB does the job nicely here.

We've already touched on gaming performance, and no apps crashed during our time with the phone either – that happened fairly often with the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Premium. 

Sony Xperia XZ

The phone also never heated up to a troubling degree, something else that was an issue with the Xperia Z5 – that phone got hot whenever we put the processor through a tough workout, so it's good to see Sony has sorted the issue for its latest release.

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.