• Go ahead and get it wet: Our Sony Xperia Z1 review


    When the Xperia Z came out earlier this year, it had the highest resolution display I have ever seen on a phone. Aside from being insanely sharp, it also worked great outdoors. Unfortunately it also had some serious problems: Itís really washed out looking to the point that it sort of looks like a STN display. Things got even more washed out if if you moved off angle.

    To make matters worse, the GS4, HTC One and LG G2 all have awesome displays and basically blow the Zís display out of the water.

    So Sony has to seriously up its game with the Z1ís display. They call it a tri-lumous display to indicate that it can reproduce a greater gamut of colours. I donít think it means that it uses RGB LEDís to light the screen (it doesnít AFAIK).

    How is it in real life? Itís much nicer to look at than the ZL/Z displays. Straight-on itís not washed out. Colours pop nicely without being too obnoxious. Black levels look good for a LCD and it has the same great outdoor performance as the Z/ZL.

    Unfortunately, it still turns white when you go off angle. Itís a huge improvement over the Z/ZL screens but itís bad enough that I think some people will still complain about it. I really notice it if Iím trying to share a video with other people or if Iím composing a shot with the camera and am not looking at the screen straight-on. Just look at the two pictures - pay attention to the white area around the bottom of the screen.

    I suspect that the Z1 has a gap between the actual display and the screen cover/digitizer and thatís whatís causing it to wash-out off-angle. But thatís just speculation.

    One last thing, if youíre bothered by scratches on the screen watch out; like pretty much all Sony phones, the Z1 has a glass screen which has a PET type screen protector installed on top of it. You can actually see the protector if you look up-close.

    This makes the screen shatter resistent - if you were to drop the phone and break the screen, shards of glass wonít fall out and cut you because the screen protector holds them in place.

    This is all good but the problem is that the plastic screen protector scratches quite easily. Now Iím sure you could always try to remove the screen protector but itís actually pretty stuck on. I tried removing the Z1ís and I think they use some sort of adhesive. So itís not meant to be removed. Is the adhesive and screen protector what causes the poor viewing angles (my guess is no but who knows).

    Anyways, if screen scratches bother you, make sure you put a screen protector on the screen protector.


    The Z1 has a glass front and back which sandwiches a metal frame. The edges of the metal frame also have glass inserts in them - Itís a classy package. Itís also a really hard phone (no jokes please). Let me explain: The Z1 is a pretty large phone for a 5 inchíer. While itís no thicker than a Galaxy S4, itís quite a bit longer and a bit wider. Itís edges are also a lot more squared (relatively speaking). The bottom part of the phone is pretty long so it really digs into your palm when you hold it. Itís not a very organic shape - when you squeeze it, it almost feels like it pushes back. Thatís what I mean when I say itís hard.

    No oneís going to say that the Z1 feels cheap but I couldnít help noticing that itís susceptible to some flex. Itís probably a result of the large foot print. Then again, a small amount of flex isn'tí necessarily a bad thing. It could mean the phone can handle being dropped better than one that doesnít flex at all because the frame can absorb more energy.

    Part of me wishes that Sony made a Xperia ZL1 that has the Z1ís specs but used the ZLís chassis. The The ZL was a brilliant phone because it was so easy to hold. I would have gladly traded the water resistance for the ZLís smaller chassis and infrared blaster. Then again, Sony is going with water resistance to differentiate their flagships so I donít blame them for taking this path.

    Like the Z/ZL/T the power button on the side is located half way down on the right side so you can turn the it on/off without having to scooch your finger up the side.

    Unlike the Xperia ZL, Samsung Galaxy S4, LG G2 and HTC One, the Z1 lacks an infrared emitter so you canít use it to control your TV - at least not via infrared. Itís a shame because the remote software on the ZL was promising.

    One big improvement over the Z which is also water resistant is that the headphone jack is no longer located behind a port cover. That means it maintains itís water resistant even when youíre listening to music. Hereís something stupid I tried, I was curious to see how much water the headphone jack holds so I poured water into it to see. It doesnít hold much.

    Unfortunately, the microUSB is still located behind a door so youíll have to open it every time you want to charge the Z1. I mean the Z1 is water resistant but constantly having to open and close a port canít be good for the the gaskets which keep water out.

    Still, if youíre willing to spend the money and can locate one, there is a dock available for the Z1 which can charge it via the pins on the side so you donít have to use the MicroUSB connect. Iíd like to point out that it would have been much more convenient if Sony had just added wireless charging to the Z1.

    The area around the docking connector has a really sharp edge on it. Itís noticeable because your fingers rest on it when you hold it.

    Now Iíve probably used the words Ďwater resistanceí a hundred times already but what does it mean exactly? Provided you remember to close all the Z1ís ports before you take it out, it means you can wash it in your sink (I did this a few times) or you can use it in the shower (yes, I tried it once).

    I didnít get around to taking a bath but you can use it while youíre relaxing in the bath and not have to worry if you accidentally drop it in the water. Since you can do all this stuff it also means it can handle rain just fine.

    Just one thing, when the screen gets wet, it thinks youíre trying to touch it. That means while you can dunk it under water, you canít really use the screen. Thatís why the Z1 has a separate shutter button in case you want to snap underwater pics.

    In addition to being water resistant, the Z1 is also dust resistant. Itís kind of funny but it really needs to be dust resistant. You know the plastic screen protector I mentioned earlier? while it keeps the glass from going everywhere when the screen breaks, it also attracts a lot of dust. Every time I stick the Z1 in my pocket I need to wipe the dust off of it. Itís kind of annoying.

    MicroSIM slot, power button, volume

    speaker, lanyard connector (now you dust off your old phone charms)

    headphone jack

    MicroSD, MicroUSB connector, docking station pins

    20 megapixel camera, flash
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Go ahead and get it wet: Our Sony Xperia Z1 review started by howard View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      If I may, I'll add that Sony seems to enjoy a good relationship with the modding community ó XDA named them their OEM of the year in 2012.

      Have yet to see any ROMs for this particular device, though...
    1. gsmm4n's Avatar
      gsmm4n -
      Any truth to the rumours that sony is using different screens for this phone and one of them isnt as good as the other?

      Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    1. eselekt91's Avatar
      eselekt91 -
      My youtube tutorial involving screen/touch replacement in the presented Sony Z1 model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJglUZYz7z8
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