Unmoved by the QHD screen hype, Sony is skipping straight to 4K on the Premium models. However, the XZs gets a familiar 1080p IPS display. Not that we need anything higher on a 5.2-inch screen.
The screen of the Xperia XZs offers a more than reasonable 424ppi, and comes with X-Reality color and contrast enhancements in the Album and Video apps.
The display posted very good scores across the board, the only exception being color accuracy. The maximum brightness of 564 nits achieved in manual mode is consistent across the auto modes too. The blacks are nicely dark, but not as impressive as on the XZ.
At the lowest setting, brightness is easy on the eyes at 4.9 nits.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
Color reproduction is not particularly good, though. The average DeltaE of 6.2 is decent, but there is a pronounced blue cast to whites and grays. Sony provides sliders that help you get rid of the blue cast at least. There is an sRGB mode in the Developer's Options, but it did not do anything on our unit. Maybe this will change with a future update.
Sunlight legibility on this screen is superb. High quality LCD displays have been getting near AMOLEDs in this regard, even if they can't quite match the best of them. The Xperia XZs is on par with the Xperia XZ and the iPhone 6s, and a little short of the iPhone 7’s contrast under direct light.
The Xperia XZs relies on a 2,900mAh battery to keep it powered, the same unit we met in the Xperia XZ. That's also the same capacity as the Xperia Z5 before it, while the Xperia X Performance has a 2,700mAh power pack.
In our tests the Xperia XZs proved to be excellent at voice calls and an otherwise balanced performer in the other disciplines. Web browsing over Wi-Fi depletes the Xperia XZs battery in just over 8 hours - not spectacular, but not far from what the XZ and Z5 offered. In looping our test video until the battery is down to 10%, the Xperia XZ lasts for north of 9 hours, which is a very good endurance.
Coupled with frugal standby power consumption, the above numbers add up to a combined endurance rating of 73 hours. We got 72 hours with the Xperia XZ, so that's a pretty consistent result.
Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Xperia XZs 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.
Much like the Xperia XZ, the Xperia XZs has the Qnovo adaptive charging technology built-in. The technology allows the phone to monitor the cell's electrochemical processes in real time and adjust charging parameters accordingly 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 means a year or so of extra longevity as in theory if the battery ages better, it should hopefully be able to hold charge better in time (an important aspect for a phone that has its battery sealed-in).
Battery Care is another proprietary Sony feature, which further increases the battery lifespan. It may not be available in every market, so you should explore that possibility before buying an Xperia XZs.
So what does Battery Care do? 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. If it hasn't picked up your routine, it'll do a standard charge.
The handset also supports the Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 (and, of course, 2.0), but we're not sure if it will come bundled with a charger to match. It will most probably be a regional thing. It charges 40% of the battery in 30 mins with a QC3.0 charger, which is not that fast considering the charging standard and the relatively average battery capacity.
On the software side of things, there's Sony's Stamina battery saving feature. It has two modes: regular Stamina, and Ultra Stamina. The first disables non-essential features like GPS and vibration, and takes performance down a notch.
Ultra Stamina is for absolutely dire occasions when you don't expect to be able to find a power outlet for a long period of time. Enable that and it's back to basics where you get a single homescreen with access to the dialer and contacts, text messages, camera, clock - just the basics. Going out of Ultra Stamina requires a restart.
The Xperia XZs is well-stocked with connectivity options. Our review unit is the single-SIM version (G8231 model name), but there's also a dual-SIM option (G8232) available. The slot in that case is of the hybrid variety though - it's either a second SIM or a microSD card - you can't have both.
LTE is Cat. 9 (450Mbps down, 50Mbps up) and the phone also comes equipped with dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac with 2x2 MIMO antennas for speeds up to 433Mbps (if you have an 802.11ac capable router). Local connectivity goes on with Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX and Low Energy, and NFC.
The Wi-Fi connection can be used for screen casting - be it Miracast, Google Cast, or DLNA. If you connect a DualShock controller, the Xperia XZs can even double as a portable console, streaming your Playstation 4 games via PS4 Remote Play. It can also connect to your car's stereo system via MirrorLink.
GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou satellite positioning are supported, unless you're in the US, where it's just GPS and GLONASS.
The Xperia XZs has no FM radio though.
The USB port is Type-C, but it only conforms to USB 2.0 spec and not 3.0 or 3.1. It lets you hook up USB storage and accessories and charge other devices.
Sony has dropped MHL support, so you have no wired way to output an image to a TV. You do get 3.5mm analog output to your choice of headphones.