The Sony Xperia XZ1's 5.2-inch 1080p display sounds identical to the XZs unit on paper, but it's actually a new panel and one that comes with HDR10 support. Just like its XZ Premium sibling, the new XZ1 is compatible with high dynamic range content from both Netflix and Amazon video. If you plan on using your next phone for multimedia consumption from these sources it will make a difference.
The FullHD resolution looks nicely sharp to our eyes and has certain potential battery endurance benefits. Of course, it is ultimately up to you to decide whether the lack of a QHD panel is something to hold against the XZ1 or not.
As far as display technology goes, Sony is also sticking with what it knows - IPS LCD. The panel of choice for the XZ1 also boasts Sony's Triluminos and X-Reality engine technologies. It is reasonably bright at 575 nits, but its blacks have have almost half a nit of backlight bleed at full brightness. That damages contrast quite a lot, but the overall result is still solid.
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Sunlight legibility is great too - in fact we measured a contrast of 3.765 in our standardized test, which is among the best achievements by an LCD panel.
In terms of color accuracy, the Xperia XZ1 handles itself pretty well. Under the default color mode we managed a respectable average deltaE of 4.5, with a max deviation of 7.3. Pro mode is your friend, if you want to come as close as possible to the sRGB spectrum. Also, bringing the brightness down to our standard 200 nit level for battery test helped lower the average deltaE to 3.8 and the max to 6.
If you really want to go all out, Sony also offers custom white balance controls. After some fiddling, we managed an average deltaE of only 2 and a max of 3.7 in Pro mode at 200 nits, using the settings above.
On the other end of the scale, there is Vivid mode. It pushes colors hard, especially blues, in an effort to give the images on it extra punch.
The Sony Xperia XZ1 is pretty decked-out in this department. Some variants come with two Nano-SIM slots, for extra flexibility. Sadly, Sony's solution in this case is a hybrid one, so its either the microSD card or the second line.
Cat.16 LTE is capable of download speeds of up to 1Gbit/s, provided your carrier can step up to the challenge. Wi-Fi also has most goodies on board - dual-band, a/c. The same goes for the fast USB 3.1, Type-C data interface and the shiny new Bluetooth 5.0 radio, with support for aptX HD and LE.
If these details are particularly significant for you, these are all areas where the XZ1 clearly has the XZs beat. Of course, there is satellite positioning as well, which should work most everywhere in the world, thanks to A-GPS, GLONASS and BDS support.
Now, there's really no point beating about the bush, 2,700 mAh sounds like little juice for a modern flagship. Even the Xperia XZs had a larger battery. However, the Snapdragon 835 is also based on a more efficient 10-nm process, compared the the 14nm Snapdragon 820. There is also the matter of Oreo software optimization.
Apparently these made quite a difference, as the Xperia XZ1 managed a surprisingly good 82 hour Endurance rating in our test. This is actually better than both the XZ Premium and XZs, which scored 72 and 73 hours with their 3,230 mAh and 2,900 mAh batteries.
We think we can piece together an explanation as to why that is. We should probably consider the fact that the XZ Premium uses a 4K panel. Even if it does not run at its native resolution most of the time, it is still likely more power-hungry. As for the XZs, it has a similar 5.2-inch, 1080p panel as the XZ1, but it does use a less efficient 14nm Snapdragon 820 chipset.
Android Oreo seems to have helped out the most, particularly through its improved background battery saving features. This is likely how it managed 377 hours on standby, compared to the XZ Premium's 322.
Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Xperia XZ1 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.
One positive aspect of having a small battery is a speedy recharge cycle. The XZ1 supports QuickCharge 3.0, so you can get over 60% charge in 30 minutes if you have a QC3 charger. Qnovo adaptive charging and Battery Care are worth mentioning here as well.
The Qnovo Adaptive Charging tech built inside recent Sony Xperia phones allows the smartphone to monitor the cell's electrochemical processes in real time and adjust charging parameters dynamically to minimize cell damage and extend the battery unit's lifespan.
Qnovo claims the battery should last hundreds of charge cycles more than a conventionally charged battery. This potentially means a year or so of extra longevity, as the battery performance deteriorates more slowly and should be able to hold more charge when it gets older.
Then there is Battery Care. Say you charge your phone overnight, and you regularly plug it in at midnight and unplug it at 8 in the morning. In time, the phone will recognize the pattern, charge the battery to 90% and then stop charging. And then at, say, 7:30 in the morning it will pick up where it left off and top it all up to 100% at a slower pace, so the battery doesn't stay at full charge for prolonged time periods. This should further extend the battery's lifespan.
On the software side of things, you get a pair of battery saving modes. One is the regular STAMINA mode, which caps performance and disables a few non-vital background tasks. Then there is Ultra STAMINA mode for when you are far away from a wall socket. It disables Wi-Fi and data entirely and pretty much leaves you with the bare essentials of your phone.