Sony Xperia XZ review: X to the Z

X to the Z

GSMArena team, 28 September 2016.

Sony's Album shines as a gallery app

The Album app 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).

The Album app is beautiful and functional - Sony Xperia XZ review The Album app is beautiful and functional - Sony Xperia XZ review The Album app is beautiful and functional - Sony Xperia XZ review The Album app is beautiful and functional - Sony Xperia XZ review
The Album app is beautiful and functional

You can instead 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, Picasa, Flickr.

Image editing is handled by several apps, including Sketch and Sticker creator (so you can create your own custom stickers to send to your friends).

Sketch lets you fingerpaint over a photo or a paper-like texture, add text, stickers, photos and so on. If you're talented (the below screenshot reveals our mediocrity), you can share your creations on the Sketch mini-social network. We'd stick to just browsing what others drew.

Sketch is a fun image editor with a mini social network for sharing art - Sony Xperia XZ review Sketch is a fun image editor with a mini social network for sharing art - Sony Xperia XZ review Sketch is a fun image editor with a mini social network for sharing art - Sony Xperia XZ review Sketch is a fun image editor with a mini social network for sharing art - Sony Xperia XZ review Sketch is a fun image editor with a mini social network for sharing art - Sony Xperia XZ review
Sketch is a fun image editor with a mini social network for sharing art

Movie Creator is similar to the Assistant of Google Photos. 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, add color effects and music (you get a small audio collection to start you off, but can use custom files too). Then tap the Share button and send out your animated slideshow.

The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows - Sony Xperia XZ review The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows - Sony Xperia XZ review The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows - Sony Xperia XZ review The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows - Sony Xperia XZ review
The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows

Music app

The Music app feels like a part of the same software package as the rest of the custom Sony stuff. The contextual side menu offers much of the same browsing options - by folder, network folder and online services, in this case, Spotify (it's just a link to the Spotify app though). You can share music from the phone to compatible players.

Music app - Sony Xperia XZ review Music app - Sony Xperia XZ review Music app - Sony Xperia XZ review Music app - Sony Xperia XZ review Music app - Sony Xperia XZ review
Music app

The app can find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia and search for lyrics on Google.

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 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.

Dynamic normalizer evens out the volume differences across tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.

Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZ review Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZ review Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZ review Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZ review Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZ review
Audio settings

There's no FM radio on the Xperia XZ and Sony's proprietary song recognition app Track ID doesn't come pre-installed. It's still available to download from the Play Store, naturally.

Video

Named simply Video, the app is a lot more than a player. Sure, it can play your local videos and videos on your home network, plus it has extensive subtitle settings. Additionally you can flip a switch and have videos played in the background.

Video player - Sony Xperia XZ review Video player - Sony Xperia XZ review Video player - Sony Xperia XZ review Video player - Sony Xperia XZ review
Video player

But tell the app where you are, and if the region is supported it will pull info off the internet with TV schedules, shows currently airing and highlights of what to expect.

TV schedule and highlights - Sony Xperia XZ review TV schedule and highlights - Sony Xperia XZ review TV schedule and highlights - Sony Xperia XZ review TV schedule and highlights - Sony Xperia XZ review
TV schedule and highlights

Audio output good, but not perfect

The Sony Xperia XZ delivered excellently clean output when used with an active external amplifier, getting top marks across the board. Its output loudness was just above average so it’s a very decent performance overall.

Degradation caused by headphones is more than we are used to seeing from flagships with a moderate hike in stereo crosstalk, a little intermodulation distortion and slightly shakier frequency response. Those are hard to detect without dedicated equipment, but the fall in volume is easy to be felt. All in all the output will please the majority of users, but we certainly expect better from a flagship these days.

And now here go the results so you can do your comparison.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Sony Xperia XZ +0.01, -0.04-93.092.80.0047 0.010-93.6
Sony Xperia XZ (headphones) +0.22, -0.20-91.790.20.0065 0.199-57.8
Sony Xperia X Performance +0.01, -0.04-95.290.00.0038 0.011-95.1
Sony Xperia X Performance (headphones) +0.23, -0.17-93.289.30.0078 0.174-64.9
Apple iPhone 7+0.06, -0.10-92.492.30.00150.0093-80.9
Apple iPhone 7 (headphones attached)+0.03, -0.11-92.392.30.00110.012-77.0
LG G5 +0.01, -0.04-92.692.60.0051 0.0096-93.3
LG G5 (headphones) +0.05, -0.01-92.292.30.0029 0.037-50.7
Xiaomi Mi 5 +0.01, -0.03-95.395.10.0034 0.0065-95.1
Xiaomi Mi 5 (headphones)+0.01, -0.03-95.295.10.0027 0.013-71.5
Samsung Galaxy S7 +0.01, -0.04-92.592.60.0027 0.0078-92.7
Samsung Galaxy S7 (headphones)+0.05, -0.05-91.992.10.0044 0.063-73.4

Sony Xperia XZ frequency response
Sony Xperia XZ frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Reader comments

  • hellPIG

It's a really exciting phone to have especially when you're outdoorsy. It can easily perform under heavy rain, waterfall, underwater and even inside an aquarium tank. Sadly, the XZ has some over heating issues especially during the fi...

I've been using this phone for the last two months (bought as new old stock), working alongside an Xperia Z5 Compact. Compared to the z5c, the xz feels better in every way (though to be expected), but the Wi-Fi is a bit weaker, the Z5C have a st...

  • Anonymous

The best Xperia model I have used so far. Been using it for the last 3 years. No problem what so ever. Have no plans to change it.