The new Xperia XZ and X Compact by Sony are a pair of Android smartphones announced at the IFA technology show in Berlin on 1 September. Ahead of the big reveal, IBTimes UK got some hands-on time with the new handsets to find out what they are really like.
Sony says the Xperia XZ is its new flagship phone and will go on sale in October for an unspecified price. Meanwhile, the X Compact, which goes on sale in September, will slot into the product portfolio close to the Xperia X, below the X Performance and above the XA. Don't worry, we're finding this all rather confusing too.
Xperia XZ hands-on
The first thing you notice when picking up the XZ is its curved edges. Where all recent Sonys have had flat sides and sharp edges which sometimes made them difficult to hold, the XZ's sides are curved and finished in gloss to make them more grippy and ergonomic.
We were really impressed with the XZ from the moment we picked it up, and felt attracted to it in a way we haven't towards Sony handsets for some time. Despite its 5.2in screen and fairly large body that creates, the XZ feels snug in your hand. But while the sides are very close to the screen, there is plenty of space above and below the screen which feels wasted.
The metal back of the phone is much more practical than glass, given it won't crack or smash the first time you drop it, and it gives the XZ a tough, purposeful look and feel, especially on the black handset.
Other colour options include dark blue and silver. All three look great and are a huge improvement over the sickening pink and yellow/green the Xperia X was offered in.
The XZ's screen resolution is only 1920 x 1080, which is some way behind some of its rivals from Samsung and LG, but it still looks good. Colours are bright and accurate, blacks are dark and the whole experience of using the phone is a good albeit unremarkable one.
Sony spent a lot of its presentation talking about the XZ's rear camera, which has a 23-megapixel sensor, five-axis optical image stabilisation, 4K video recording and a 'laser' infrared focus. It sounds great on paper, appeared to work well in our brief hands-on time, and we are keen to give it a proper workout as soon as we can.
The company also boasted about a new battery charging technology which stops at 90% and only fully refills the battery moments before it is unplugged. The phone decides this by analysing your daily use pattern; if you unlock at 6:30am every day, then that final 10% charge will take place around 6am. This, Sony says, will help increase the battery's useful life, giving the same performance in a year or two as it does now.
Xperia X Compact hands-on
With this phone Sony has taken aspects of the Xperia X and XZ, then put them into a smaller handset with a 4.6in screen. It's a smart move, as given the even smaller iPhone SE recently became Britain's bestselling smartphone, there is clearly a demand for more compact handsets.
The X Compact has a very similar design to the XZ, with the same curved sides which make it comfortable to hold. It is slightly bulkier than the XZ, but not enough for you to really notice. The Compact goes on sale in September for a yet-to-be-fixed price and will be available in white, black and a pale 'Mist Blue'.
Unlike the metal-backed XZ, the Compact has a glass back which is the same colour as its glass front and metal sides. Despite its smaller size and expected lower cost, the X Compact is still clearly a flagship phone with the looks, performance and camera to match. It has the same 23-megapixel rear camera and the same smart charging technology as the XZ. The processor if the X Compact is the Snapdragon 650, whereas the XZ uses the higher-spec 820.
The only aspects which let it down are the 720p screen resolution and a lack of waterproofing. Look beyond this, and the X Compact offers the flagship experience in a smaller package.
We will be receiving our review samples of both the XZ and X Compact soon, so look out for full IBTimes UK reviews of each in the coming weeks.