The Album app is among the most comprehensive and feature-rich gallery apps we've seen, and it's fast and easy to use. It switches to 4K resolution upon opening a high-res image (this means most of the time considering the 19MP snaps from the camera).
The Album app organizes images into groups of thumbnails and sorts them by date. At the very top of the list is a slideshow, showing off your photos. Lower down, the first photo of each month is shown at twice the size of other images. Photos are organized by month, and you can use pinch-zoom to change the size of thumbnails (then they smoothly animate into the grid).
You can also browse photos on a map instead (you can manually add geotag info too) or by folder. This includes network storage so that you can view photos from a DLNA server (your home computer, for one). Then there's integration with online albums - Facebook, Flickr, and Google Photos (someone should tell Sony engineers this is no longer called Picasa).
Image editing is handled by several apps, including the default Image Editor, Sketch and Sticker creator (so you can create your own custom stickers to send to your friends).
Sketch lets you fingerpaint over a photo or a paper-like texture, add text, stickers, photos and so on. If you're talented (the below screenshot reveals our mediocrity), you can share your creations on the Sketch mini-social network. We stuck with just browsing through what others drew.
Movie Creator is similar to the Google Photos Assistant. It automatically creates short videos from the photos and videos you've shot. You can do it manually too: pick photos and videos, change their order, add color effects and music (you get a small audio collection to start you off, but can use custom files too). Then tap the Share button and send out your animated slideshow.
The Music app feels like a part of the same software package as the rest of the custom Sony stuff. The contextual side menu offers much of the same browsing options - by folder, network folder and online services, in this case, Spotify (it's just a link to the Spotify app though). You can share music from the phone to compatible players.
The app can find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia, and search for lyrics on Google.
The Music app offers a variety of audio settings - ClearAudio+ determines the best audio quality settings depending on the track you're listening to. Then there's DSEE HX, which uses an almost wizardly algorithm supposed to restore or rather extrapolate compressed music files, like MP3s into high-res audio. According to Sony, the result is near Hi-Res Audio Quality, but it only works with wired headphones.
Dynamic normalizer evens out the volume differences across tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.
There's no FM radio on the Xperia XZ Premium, and Sony's proprietary song recognition app Track ID doesn't come pre-installed. It's still available to download from the Play Store, of course.
Named simply Video, the app is a lot more than a player. It can play your local videos and videos on your home network - all in native 4K, of course, plus it has extensive subtitle settings. Additionally, you can flip a switch and have videos played in the background.
But if you tell the app where you are, and if your region is supported, it will pull info off of the internet with TV schedules, shows currently airing, and highlights of what to expect.
Sony said it worked hard to improve the Xperia XZ Premium audio experience and that the smartphone should do much better than the XZ. While the new software tricks might be useful for those looking to tailor its output for their headsets, the audio chip is seemingly unchanged. That means that those that value accuracy of the output might not notice much change.
The smartphone delivered excellently clean output when used with an active external amplifier, getting top marks across the board. Its output loudness was only average though - most of the other flagships out there do better.
Clarity degradation caused by headphones is very reasonable too - a very well contained hike in stereo crosstalk and a little intermodulation distortion is all we got. However add the drop in loudness to even lower levels and you get a performance that, while decent on its own, is not exactly flagship-worthy.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|LG V20||+0.01, -0.03||-93.0||93.1||0.0036||0.0075||-93.7|
|LG V20 (headphones attached)||+0.04, -0.09||-92.4||92.4||0.051||0.105||-57.5|
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.