Sony's got a plan and it's sticking to it - while other makers pile software feature upon feature, the Japanese focus on their historical strengths, such as beautiful, durable design, photographic excellence and enviable display tech. That in short is what the Xperia Z1 is all about.
The upper Xperia echelon is known for its slim design and the Z1 is no exception - 8.5mm doesn't sound wafer thin, but not until you realize that inside this phone's body there's a 1/2.3" sensor and a 3,000mAh battery. The sensor is 70% bigger in terms of surface area than what smartphones usually get (1/3") and large sensors require bigger optics, hence thicker phones. The same goes for high-capacity batteries.
Of course, the big, high-resolution sensor will give the Xperia Z1 a leg up on the competition in the imaging department. But Sony is also responding to Nokia's propensity for name-dropping (ZEISS lenses) by using its own sensor brand and lens design, plus a BIONZ image processor.
With no unsightly humps (looking at you, Lumia 1020 and Galaxy S4 zoom) the Xperia Z1 makes the OmniBalance design shine. It's an aluminum frame, with durable glass panels on both the front and back, and design accents like the aluminum power key and the color notification light.
Don't forget the IP58 certification, which means the phone will easily go swimming with you so you can take it in the pool or wade into the sea. Water resistance is good all year round, not just summer vacation - a spilled glass can turn a $600+ gadget into a paperweight. You or someone you know has at one point stood over a bag of rice hoping to bring their wet phone back to life.
And unlike their treatment of the Xperia Z, this time around Sony is using the best chipset on the market, the Snapdragon 800. Also, a good deal of work has gone into the screen, another point the Xperia Z was criticized on. Finally, the Sony Xperia Z1 even manages to shame the competition by having expandable storage, even though this complicates the waterproofing process.
Sony's recent press releases indicate that the mobile phone business is becoming one of the main money makers (same goes for Samsung) and you can tell the company's heart is into making the best product around. Jump over to the next page to see whether ambition has matched competence.