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Meet the New Sony Xperia XZ Premium Phone, with 4K HDR Display & 960fps Camera

by on February 27, 2017
 

Stephan Jukic – February 27, 2017

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Sony has moved to impress in the smartphone market in a way that surpasses even their still mostly unique 2015 Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone release. For 2017 the most innovative and powerful phone on the market is definitely looking like the new Xperia XZ Premium, which was unveiled this Monday.

Not only is the XZ Premium one of only two consumer phones today with native 4K display (the other being the Sony Z5 Premium), it’s also the first ever smartphone with a 4K high dynamic range display that supports UHD video sources. In addition to these killer specs, the XZ Premium comes with one insane high-speed video camera, the ability to handle ultra-fast download speeds and some photographic shooting specs that are also stunning as hell.

With this phone and its closest cousins, Sony is making a very serious bid to go up against companies like Apple and Samsung in the premium smartphone market by simply overwhelming the best products on offer from both with unparalleled mobile device specs.

To start things off, let’s run through some of the truly stunning features of the XZ Premium, because they’re unique even by the standards of today’s flagship phones.

First, there’s the 4K UHD resolution. This was a feature of the 2015 Z5 Premium from Sony but only worked for certain types of content on the display. In this year’s model, not only has the 4K resolution been fleshed out more, the phone also comes with HDR display specs packed into it, allowing for a higher range of contrast and wide color gamut support, much like Sony’s own 4K HDR TVs. In case you’re wondering, the 4K resolution on this phone’s 5.5 inch screen translates to a ridiculously high 801 ppi pixel density. Just try to notice individual pixels with the naked eye. Not a chance.

Additionally, the XZ Premium is capable of handling content downloads at a whopping 1 Gbps, assuming your wireless internet or 5G connection is up to the task. Thus, as long as you can get the right sort of network or WiFi access to hook up with the XZ Premium, its internal data handling specs can easily handle streaming Ultra HD HDR content downloads of the kind that will let its display really shine.

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Then, we have the cameras of the XZ Premium. These are possibly one of its single most impressive features and the rear camera in particular offers native 4K video resolution, broadcast quality video, the capacity to shoot video at a whopping 960 frames per second (obviously only in 720p resolution and not in 4K) for some stunning slow motion shots and comes with a still photo resolution of 19 megapixels. There’s also a front, “selfie” camera which is itself capable of delivering impressively large 13 megapixel still shots and high quality video recording of its own. The rear camera on the XZ also comes with a 5-axis image stabilizing feature and a laser autofocus for further refinements on photo and video quality.

Finally, we have the XZ Premium phone’s 5.5 inch display and slightly boxy, mirror-polished physical design that’s available in a range of colors (just like the Z5 from 2016.)

This new Xperia phone also features one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 top-shelf SoC chips, designed to handle ultra HD video processing smoothly while managing other multimedia-related features of the phone without a hitch.

One somewhat disappointing aspect of the XZ Premium is its LCD display. Given this little machine’s other specs (especially the Snapdragon 835 SoC), you’d think that the XZ Premium would make for an absolutely spectacular VR headset for technologies like Google Daydream headset. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite feasible since the response time of the LCD screen isn’t fast enough for VR use.

It’s also worth noting that the HDR specs on the XZ Premium are a bit vague at best. Sony hasn’t yet provided any hard data on peak brightness, black levels and color ratings, all of which are key metrics of high dynamic range in any display device. However, we’d assume that the company isn’t simply blowing hot air in claiming that the XZ Premium is an HDR phone.

As for other core specs, the new Sony flagship phone comes with a 4GB RAM, 64GB of native storage space and a 3230mAh battery. It also features the Android 7.1 Nougat operating system, which makes us wonder about its compatibility with any major sources of streamed UHD HDR content, since they require additional video handling specs like the presence of H.265 and HDCP 2.2, none of which are present in Android for smartphones to our knowledge. Sony has however said that it’s working with Amazon to allow HDR content from the company’s Instant Video service to be streamed on the XZ Premium phone. We can’t be sure about the 4K HDR content accessibility of other services like Netflix on the Xperia XZ but Daniel Gleeson, an analyst at OVUM has said that the phone’s features are limited by subscription purchasing restrictions, without making mention of technical restrictions in accessing these other HDR content sources.

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In other words, as impressive as the sheer presence of HDR and 4K resolution is in the Sony Xpria XZ Premium, if you’re going to get the phone, it’s better to do so based on its other specs and not so much the ultra HD HDR angle. For this kind of content, a 4K TV or laptop/PC are still much better options. It’s also worth noting that while the XZ’s internal camera can grab 4K video, it’s only filmable in short snippets due to internal space constrictions.

All things considered however, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is one stunning piece of phone hardware no matter how you cut it, even if its ultra HD HDR chops are discounted due to their problems. As such it will definitely be an expensive piece of hardware when it starts shipping later in the spring. We don’t have pricing information but since the 2015 Z5 Premium sold for a whopping $960 upon release, we doubt this phone will cost much less at its cheapest possible price.

Story by 4k.com

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