Sony Xperia XZ Premium review: The showstopper

The showstopper

GSMArena team, 12 May 2017.

Display

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium was the first phone to come with a 4K display. Now, the Xperia XZ Premium is adding HDR video support. Unlike the ultra high resolution, which had its pros and cons, HDR has no shortcomings - highlights and shadows are rendered better, gradients are smoother, colors are richer.

Below you will see a comparative shot of how the 4K HDR and the 4K SDR video looks on the screen of the XZ Premium. Before you jump to quick conclusions, bear in mind that this comparison has an illustrative purpose only - the only way to appreciate an HDR video playing on an HDR-capable screen is in person with your own eyes. Everything else is an approximation and the end result will more or less be affected by the camera settings we used and your own computer screen.

Our entire point however is that both the 4K SDR and HDR videos, which we used, looked perfectly good in real life and you can't really tell any difference between the two unless you have them side by side.

SDR vs HDR (click to expand) - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review
4K SDR vs 4K HDR video (click to expand)

4K resolution on a small screen is not without its benefits, too, take virtual reality, for instance. Sony however still hasn't found a way to put the insanely high resolution on that screen to good use in VR. None of the current VR headsets have enough resolution, especially the mobile units. With a 4K screen and a powerful GPU (courtesy of Qualcomm), the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is perfectly poised to rule the mobile VR market but we guess the PlayStation division did not want any sibling rivalry.

At the normal distance that we use our phone, 4K resolution on the Xperia XZ Premium seems like an overkill simply because your eyes can't really tell the difference compared to the QHD resolution, which we've seen on most high-end phones.

In this case, however, it does not affect the performance as the phone runs in 1080p mode most of the time. That's until you feed it with quality 4K footage where it really starts making use of all the pixels. A side benefit from that screen is that YouTube will now offer you 4K quality setting on the Xperia XZ Premium. There is no HDR support for YouTube, but even 4K on its own is good enough by our books.

HDR video content is still scarce but subscription video streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix are already offering HDR content, so you should be able to find some high-quality material to feast your eyes on right out of the box.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium's screen is HDR10 compliant, which is another way of saying that there is no Dolby Vision support - these two HDR video standards are the most popular right now. The phone also offers Adaptive Tone Mapping to ensure the bright screen contents don't get clipped when the screen brightness goes up in bright ambient light. Sony has the same feature on its BRAVIA TVs.

As usual, we looked at the screen under a microscope and it revealed the same RGB pixel arrangement we saw on the Xperia Z5 Premium. Even at the maximum magnification that our microscope allows, the individual pixels are just barely visible - the screen is that pixel-dense!

Sony Xperia XZ Premium review

The maximum brightness of the screen (573nits) turned out quite in line with what we got from the Xperia Z5 Premium (566nits). The level of blacks is deeper, though, which works out to a much better contrast ratio of 1238:1, as opposed to the Z5's 963:1.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 0.463 573 1238
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 0.59 566 966
Sony Xperia XZ 0.37 502 1349
Sony Xperia XZs 0.461 564 1223
Samsung Galaxy S8 0 440
Samsung Galaxy S8 Max auto 0 618
LG G6 0.228 468 2053
LG G6 max auto 0.277 564 2036
HTC U Ultra 0.539 428 794
HTC U Ultra (max auto) 0.564 507 899
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 0.41 573 1398
Apple iPhone 7 Plus (max auto) 0.50 681 1362

In terms of sunlight legibility, the XZ Premium brings improvements over the Z5 Premium yet again. Both get decent scores, and while there is still a lot of room for improvement, the XZ Premium is better suited for use outdoors. The relatively high reflectivity of both screens limits their practicality in this respect.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Oppo F3
    2.376
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (X20)
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
    2.095
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium does not only improve the 4K display in terms of contrast and HDR video support, but it also comes with an sRGB color mode. The feature caters to professionals who would need accurate color reproduction and it's not turned on by default. The sRGB mode scored an average DeltaE of 4.9 in our color reproduction test, which is decent but not ideal. Even though the screen indeed complied to the sRGB color space (unlike the regular mode), there is a noticeable bluish tint in the white and gray hues.

The Normal display mode exceeds the sRGB color space and even though it produced more juicy colors, it still provided an average DeltaE of 4.6, which is better than the sRGB mode. The whites and grays still have a noticeable bluish tint though.

There is also a Vivid screen mode, which would over-saturate pretty much every color.

Previously, the Triluminos screen enhancement only worked in the Albums and Movies app but on the Xperia XZ Premium, it's also applicable to the homescreen and 3rd party apps. You can't turn it on or off, it's a built-in enhancement, which is part of the Normal screen mode.

Sony additionally offers the X-reality for Mobile engine, which only works on videos and makes them perceivably sharper by improving clarity on the fly as the video plays back on the phone. This feature, however, you can toggle either on or off.

Battery life

The Xperia XZ Premium relies on a 3,230mAh battery to keep it powered, 200mah down from the Xperia Z5 Premium. The phone is Quick Charge 3.0 enabled and will fill a depleted battery up to 42% in 30 mins. However, the Premium does not ship with a QC-compatible charger, you should pay some premium for that, pun intended.

In our tests the Xperia XZ Premium proved to be very good at voice calls and an otherwise balanced performer in the other disciplines. Web browsing over Wi-Fi depletes the Xperia XZ Premium battery in just over 10 hours. In looping our test video until the battery is down to 10%, the Xperia XZ lasts for north of 8 hours, which is a very good endurance but it trails behind the flagship competition.

Coupled with frugal standby power consumption, the above numbers add up to a combined endurance rating of 72 hours.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium review

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Xperia XZ Premium 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.

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 should hopefully deteriorate more slowly and should be able to hold more charge once it gets older.

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 XZ Premium.

Battery Care - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review
Battery Care

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, but we're not sure if it will come bundled with a charger to match. As usual for Sony, this decision will most probably be a regional thing so check with your retailer of choice.

We used QC3.0 charger with the XZ Premium and it charged 42% of the 3,200mAh battery in 30 mins which is not terribly fast but it's alright.

On the software side of things, Sony has also baked in their prorprietary 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.

Stamina mode - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review Stamina mode - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review Stamina mode - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review Stamina mode - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review
Stamina mode

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.

Ultra Stamina - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review Ultra Stamina - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review Ultra Stamina - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review Ultra Stamina - Sony Xperia XZ Premium review
Ultra Stamina

Connectivity

The Xperia XZ Premium is well-stocked of connectivity options. Our review unit is the single-SIM variety (G8141 model name), but there's also a dual-SIM model (G8142) available. The SIM tray in that case takes two nano-SIM cards, while you can still use the dedicated microSD slot.

LTE is Cat. 16 with impressive 1Gbps of download, courtesy of the latest Qualcomm modem with 3x carrier aggregation. The Xperia XZ Premium utilizes a 4x4MIMO antenna design and packs a total of 8 antennas, which improves the signal reception and allows the device to switch antennae depending on the phone's orientation.

The Xperia XZ Premium also comes equipped with dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac with 2x2 MIMO antennas for speeds up to 867Mbps (if you have a compatible capable router). The local connectivity list goes on with Bluetooth 5 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 XZ Premium can even double as a portable console, streaming your Playstation 4 games via PS4 Remote Play. It can also connect to your car audio via MirrorLink.

GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo satellite positioning are supported, unless you're in the US, where it's just GPS and GLONASS.

The Xperia XZ Premium has no FM radio.

The USB port is Type-C with support for USB 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 means of image and video output. You do get a 3.5mm audio jack.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

My phone(expira premium xz) was switch off and kept for about 6 month and refused to come up again even, not showing charging when charging it. What could be the problem? What should I do pls.

  • Anonymous

The Sony xz premium Is a very good phone the camera is so sweet the selfi camera is so clear the best part the phone 4k is super good Sony did a great job

  • Ismail

I having a Sony experia zx premium Quite fine this device battery display But having lot of error for audio, poor quality, no external speaker works with meeting and conference call, and phone calls, wondering that,, it extern audio work with me...