Sony Xperia Z1 Review

November 5, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | |


The Xperia Z1 offers the best photography experience of any Sony smartphone, but it's not quite good enough to topple our current favourite device, the Nokia Lumia 1020.

The Xperia Z1 brings together a lot of Sony's latest camera technologies in a premium smartphone, as well as a few surprises, most notably the innovative Timeshift Burst mode which should help to make missed opportunities a thing of the past. The Xperia Z1 is also one of the more responsive smartphones in terms of using its camera interface. although actually opening the camera app and getting shooting is still a rather slow process by compact camera standards.

Image quality has been further improved thanks to the large (by smartphone standards) 1/2.3-type sensor and the fast f/2 lens with Steadyshot image stabilisation, although the Xperia Z1 is still very much a "good light" camera, with the slow maximum shutter speed of 1/8th second and obvious noise and image processing at the higher ISO speeds limiting what you can achieve in darker environments.

As you'd perhaps expect, the Xperia Z1 is very well-suited to point-and-shoot users. The Intelligent Auto mode does a great job of selecting the right scene mode for you, the interface is generally slick and well-designed, while the HDR function for both stills and video quietly improves your images. The Manual mode promises to deliver a similar experience for more serious photographers, but we were a little disappointed by the inability to manually set the shutter speed or aperture.

Judged as a camera, the Sony Xperia Z1 is slicker and more full-featured than the Nokia Lumia 1020, but its image quality isn't quite in the same league, especially now that Nokia have revealed that the Lumia 1020 will soon support the RAW file format. The Sony Xperia Z1 is still one of the best smartphones that we've reviewed, though, and it does run on the more popular Android OS, rather than Windows, which may ultimately sway your decision...

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4
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