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Sony Xperia™ Z1 vs Sony Xperia™ Z

Posted on 5 September 2013

Sony finally unveiled its latest secret, the Sony Xperia™ Z1. With a huge 20.7MP camera, fully waterproof1 body and all the features you'll ever need built in, how does the older Sony Xperia™ Z fare?

Look and feel.

While the overall design was elegant and striking, Sony's original Xperia™ Z felt a little sharp in your hand. Having spoken to Sony designers, they said this was a point that was mentioned to them relatively often. So Sony fixed it. The Z1 has a similar design, but definitely improves on its predecessor. The edges are rounded now so the phone sits much better in your palm. Not only that, they're made from anodised metal, offering even better knock protection, plus a shiny silver look. A 25-step process gets the Z1's frame from a single block of aluminium to a piece ready for sale, giving it a more premium feel than the older Xperia™ Z.

The Xperia Z1 has some small compromises, of course. The body is tougher and more waterproof1, the battery larger, meaning the body is marginally bigger. The thinness of the original Z is not quite there and it's a somewhat noticeable 24g heavier. Still, a few grams of weight and an extra 0.6mm isn't going to burst your denim pockets anytime soon. And you get a whole lot more smartphone.

Water resistance just got better.

The original Xperia™ Z had the super practical feature of being water resistant. You could wash it under a tap or drop it in the bath and it'd keep on going. It was rated at IP57, meaning it was good for up to half an hour in one metre of water. The new Sony Xperia™ Z1 trumps this with certification to IP58 – it's properly waterproof1. This means you can submerge it in deeper water for longer. Put simply, you don't need to worry about it getting wet.

The step forward in technology is clear from the headphone socket. In the older Z you need to put the cover over the socket to stop water getting in. For the Z1, Sony has managed to do away with the cover and still up the level of water resistance. Right now, there just isn't another phone in the world that offers the features and power of the Z1 and is still fully waterproof.

Improved display.

A quick glance at a spec sheet will reveal both phones have 5" screens pumping out images at a resolution of 1080p full HD. As ever, that doesn't quite tell the whole story. The Xperia™ Z's is right up there, don't get us wrong, but in the seven months since its release, Sony has moved on.

Two features help the Z1 to outclass its older brother; Triluminous and X-Reality technology. Triulumonous means the screen of the Z1 can effectively display more colours. You'll find the Z1's screen looks more vivid than the Z's, while the colours look more natural.

X-Reality is a fantastic addition too. It's a resolution technology that turns relatively poor quality visual content into much higher quality. It analyses each image and optimises the quality to give you a sharper picture than the original. So, if you're watching less than perfect videos, the Z1 will make them look much, much better than if you were watching on the Z.

The processor is a huge step on.

Inside the Sony Xperia™ Z is the very respectable Qualcomm™ Snapdragon® S4, a 1.5GHz quad core processor. Thing is, while it's a great bit of kit, it's now a little over a year old. Inside the Sony Xperia™ Z1 is a 2.2GHz Qualcomm™ Snapdragon® 800, which is brand spanking new.

And there's a world of difference. Just skipping through the menus you can see the speed difference. Apps close exactly when you press the back button with the Z1, while there's a hint of lag with the old Z. Firing up the camera is superbly fast on the new phone too, even when the screen's off and the phone's asleep. It just doesn't skip a beat, ever.

The new processor also makes some of the more advanced features possible. There's Social live, a camera feature that lets you broadcast live videos to Facebook. How about AR effects? It's another camera feature that renders 3D graphics such as dinosaurs and sharks, directly into the camera viewfinder. Of course, the Snapdragon™ 800 is also top of the range for running games, high end apps, and everything in-between. In a couple of years' time, it'll still be playing with the big boys when it comes to games, apps and features.

It's also a great chip for 4G. If you want to maximise your internet speeds on 4G, the Z1 will give you better speeds than the older Z or any other phone that isn't lucky enough to have an 800 chip.

The cameras: 20.7MP vs 13MP.

When the Sony Xperia™ Z came on the scene at the start of the year, it was a step up, bringing 13MP and a host of filters and features. It was practical, original and powerful. But the best of Sony has got better with the Z1. At 20.7MP, it captures a huge amount of detail, and you can notice it straight away. The 3x clear image zoom means you don't lose quality when you zoom.

The Xperia™ Z isn't just bettered in image quality though. The Z1 has a few more great apps too. Along with all the filters and Superior Auto mode that was such a hit with the original Z, the Z1 has Social live, Timeshift burst ,AR effect and Info-eye. Social Live lets you stream live videos directly to your Facebook page, while Timeshift burst takes 61 photos in two seconds, allowing you to wind back and forth before and after you took a photo to find the best shot. AR effect lets you create photos with virtual objects in them, such as dinosaurs and wild animals, while Info-eye lets you search the internet using photos. Take a shot of a landmark, a barcode, a book or even some wine, and get information including overviews and reviews, all using just the camera and an internet connection.

The spec differences in a nutshell.
Purple highlighting shows the highest spec.

  Sony Xperia™ Z1

Sony Xperia™ Z1
Sony Xperia™ Z

Sony Xperia™ Z
Size 144 x 74 x 8.5 mm 170g 139 x 71 x 7.9mm 146g
Display 5" 1080p HD with Triluminous and X-Reality technology 5" 1080p HD
Processor 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 quad core Exynos 1.5GHz quad core
RAM 2GB RAM 1GB RAM
Camera 20.7MP 13MP
Front facing camera 2MP 2.2MP
Connectivity 4G, NFC, Wi-Fi /b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0 4G, NFC, Wi-Fi /b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery Battery size: 3,000mAh
Standby time: 850 hours
Talk time: 15 hours
Battery size: 2,100mAh
Standby time: 530 hours
Talk time: 14 hours
Memory 16GB on board storage, microSD up to 64GB 16GB on board storage, microSD up to 64GB

1. In compliance with IP55 and IP58, Xperia Z1 is protected against the ingress of dust and is waterproof. Provided that all ports and covers are firmly closed, the phone is (i) protected against low pressure jets of water from all practicable directions in compliance with IP 55; and/or (ii) can be kept under 1.50 metre of freshwater for up to 30 minutes in compliance with IP58.

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