The Album app that handles image viewing on the Xperia XZ1 is among the most comprehensive and feature-rich gallery apps we've seen, and it's fast and easy to use.
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 (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).
As far as photo editing goes, we are actually missing a few Sony apps on the XZ1 - Sketch and Sticker creator. Perhaps Sony didn't have the time to port them over the Oreo, perhaps it is a market segmentation, early unit or regional thing. Regardless, we hope the pair of apps land on the XZ1 at some point.
In the meantime, the default Photo Editor app is pretty powerful in itself. Filters, frames, basic corrections, levels - all accounted for.
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, and add color effects and music (you get a small audio collection to start off with, but you can use custom files too). Then tap the Share button and send out your animated slideshow.
The Music app is Sony's custom player that comes pre-installed on the Xperia XZ1 and it feels like part of the same software package. The contextual side menu offers many of the same browsing options - by folder, network folder, and online services like 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. It can also find and download album art automatically - all awesome stuff.
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 that is 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. It also helps with streaming audio, but not Spotify.
Dynamic normalizer evens out the volume differences across tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources. While in this menu, don't forget to dive a step further into Sound effects. This is actually where virtual surround toggle for both the speakers and headphones are hidden. Both are also turned off by default. Of course, there is an equalizer as well.
There's no FM radio on the Xperia XZ1, which seems to be the case with most flagships these days. Also, 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.
The aptly named Video app might have lost its TV guide functionality fairly recently, but it still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Extensive subtitle customization support is one such goodie. Then there is also the ability to connect to compatible storage devices and read or even stream media in other directions.
That is likely the reason why background video playback is an option, but sadly, there is still no pop-out interface. It would be great if Sony could implement the Android Oreo picture in picture API at some point.
The Sony Xperia XZ1 audio is virtually identical to that of the XZ Premium and XZs before it. 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 about average - a moderate hike in stereo crosstalk and a little intermodulation distortion. However add the drop in loudness to below average levels and you end up with a performance that's not quite up there with the competition, even if it isn't too bad on its own.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.