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SONY Xperia Z1
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Superb 5 inch Full HD 1080p screen
Stunning 20.7 megapixel camera
Water and dust resistant
Read our full review here >>>
by Mike Leader
Sony's latest flagship android smartphone raises the bar yet again with a 20.7 megapixel camera, extremely quick quad-core processor and underwater shooting on a 5-inch Full HD display
As is usually the case with Sony products, you can immediately see that this is a quality product. The 2-tone aluminium framework is sandwiched between two sheets of scratch resistant, shatterproof glass which combined measure just 8.5 mm thick.
Beneath the front layer lies a 5 inch screen with Sony's Triluminous technology which increases the colour spectrum range to give true, bright and authentic colours across the spectrum. also featured is Sony's Bravia X-Reality for mobile technology taken straight from their TV sets.
The 1920 x 1080 gives you a full 5 inch HD display of course and a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch which is said to be about as fine as the human eye can detect. In other words it doesn't really get much better than this, and it really is fantastic.
Stunning camera technology
We thought the Sony Xperia Z was fantastic, almost as good as it gets in fact so is the Z1 any better?
Well Sony state that you will enjoy the same performance and quality as their compact cameras, and as a Sony compact camera owner myself I can tell you that you are in for a real treat because that camera, a Sony HX-20V for the record, is quite simply the best digital camera I have ever owned, and by some considerable distance too.
Sony are rightly proud to boast that the camera is made of the same components as their compact digital cameras then, and the 20.7 megapixel camera on board features a 1/23" aperture and uses Exmor RS™ sensor and Sony's own award-winning G lens.
The Japanese giant also include their quite brilliant BIONZ™ processing engine.
This sounds all very high tech but because Superior Auto is also included, which automatically selects the best settings and scene mode in any given situation, it is an absolute doddle to use.
I'm happy to say that this works incredibly well and my compact camera is set to Superior Auto mode 99% of the time.
This means you will simply be able to point and shoot without having a thousand settings to familiarise yourself with and not have to worry about missing those spur-of-the-moment shots while you set the camera up. It really is brilliant.
Full 1080p HD video recording is also included at 30 frames per second and again the quality is superlative.
Amazing camera apps
I that's not enough for you, you can also use the camera to broadcast live to Facebook - yes, LIVE - so your Facebook friends and followers can see what you can see right there and then on the screen, and reply in real time. This is all done via the Social Live app.
Other features include Info Eye, which gives you information on what you are looking at. for example, point the camera at the Eiffel tower and get information on screen on the Tower there and then.
More camera apps
Timeshift Burst lets you take no less than 60 shots in 2 seconds, then automatically chooses the best one so you always get the best picture, while AR Effects lets you add some animated effects, though this lies somewhere between a bit of fun and a gimmick really, you are not likely to find any use for it in the real world except for perhaps entertaining the kids.
But maybe that's a task not to be taken too lightly! There are of course a plethora of photo and camera enhancement apps to be downloaded from Android Market - sorry, that's now officially called Google Play though it will be Android Market to a lot of us for a long time I suspect!
The Xperia Z1 is certified IP58, which means it can remain underwater at a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes and is protected against dust ingress, with the charging and other flaps closed of course. You can even dive up to 1.5 meters and take photos and video underwater.
However it should be noted that this is a feature that should not be used in sea water and the phone will not float so don't drop it in deep water!
If you call for a repair under warranty under such circumstances you are going to hear the same muffled guffaws of laughter in the background that you used to hear on the other end of the phone when you told them you dropped your handset down the loo! Just don't do it!
All this finery would mean little if there wasn't enough power under the hood of course, but you need not worry. Sony have provided us with a stunningly powerful 2.2 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, coupled with a hefty 2GB of RAM.
That sort of spec would have cost you a bob or two on your desktop PC not too long ago! 16GB of built in flash memory should be ample for most of us but you can also add a Micro SD memory card which then offers you up to 64 GB additional storage power on tap.
Connect to everything
With Wi-Fi including Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi hotspot coupled with 2G/3G and 4G, DLNA, NFC, stereo Bluetooth (latest version 4), geotagging and assisted GPS for sat nav you really can connect anywhere, anytime, even to the Russian GLONASS satellite system
Even as we write this there is a new Galaxy waiting to be discovered in Spring 2014, the Samsung Galaxy S5 no less, to which Sony will counter with the Sony Xperia Z2. We wouldn't be surprised if the Z2, when it arrives, turns out to be a minor update Apple style, because this really is the most stunning piece of kit we have ever had our hands on in the smartphone world.
I personally am gutted I couldn't keep it but contrary to popular belief we get no special privileges! But if you are still wondering which premium smartphone is worth the outlay of a fair chunk of your hard-earned then look no further than the Sony Xperia Z1. It's just brilliant.