Sony Xperia XZs review: Slow (e)motion

Slow (e)motion

GSMArena team, 7 April 2017.

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

You can also browse photos on a map instead (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 the default Image Editor, Sketch and Sticker creator (so you can create your own custom stickers to send to your friends).

The default image editor - Sony Xperia XZs review The default image editor - Sony Xperia XZs review The default image editor - Sony Xperia XZs review
The default image editor

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 stuck with just browsing through what others drew.

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

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, 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 XZs review The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows - Sony Xperia XZs review The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows - Sony Xperia XZs review The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows - Sony Xperia XZs review The Movie Creator can automatically or manually make shareable slideshows - Sony Xperia XZs 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 XZs review Music app - Sony Xperia XZs review Music app - Sony Xperia XZs review Music app - Sony Xperia XZs review Music app - Sony Xperia XZs 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 XZs review Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZs review Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZs review Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZs review Audio settings - Sony Xperia XZs review
Audio settings

There's no FM radio on the Xperia XZs, and 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.

Video

Named simply Video, the app is a lot more than a player. 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 XZs review Video player - Sony Xperia XZs review Video player - Sony Xperia XZs review
Video player

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

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

Audio output has its ups and downs

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

Clarity degradation caused by headphones is very reasonable too - a very well contained hike in stereo crosstalk and a little intermodulation distortion is all we got. However add the drop in loudness which was only average and you get a less than perfect performance. Pretty good, mind you, but certainly not among the best out there.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Sony Xperia XZs+0.01, -0.02-93.593.30.00420.0092-92.7
Sony Xperia XZs (headphones attached)+0.12, -0.32-92.693.20.00720.219-67.0
LG G6+0.01, -0.02-93.393.30.00590.0095-94.4
LG G6 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.02-93.493.40.00670.020-56.3
Huawei P10+0.01, -0.04-93.094.80.00190.0080-93.5
Huawei P10 (headphones attached)+0.25, -0.02-92.793.00.1920.175-59.5
Google Pixel+0.02, -0.03-93.093.00.00450.0086-92.6
Google Pixel (headphones attached)+0.22, -0.03-92.792.70.00540.129-50.9
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
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 XZs frequency response
Sony Xperia XZs frequency response

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

Reader comments

  • RMR

Maybe?

  • AnonD-689038

How many of you have successfully enabled the sRGB mode. Its there in the developer menu but i cant enable it. Even x- reality and super vivid mode also doesnt work.. I think by default they have enabled super vivid mode and forgot to write ...

  • AnonD-16165

Have you actually tested the Mirrorlink? From the info I could find online, there's no support. I've tested a few phones in the stores near my place and the last sony where I've found the mirrorlink setting was the xperia x. The xz, xz premium and th...