The Android smartphone turf war has one major front now — camera quality. It’s still the one smartphone feature that has the potential to improve by leaps and bounds in the near future, and it’s become one of the main reasons consumers pick one phone over another (or another, or another). It seems like Sony would have a natural advantage here with their long history in camera tech, but it hasn’t translated to global smartphone success for them. They’re hoping to change that with the Xperia XZ, which features a camera that includes what they call triple image sensing technology.
The 23 MP 1/2.3″ Exmor RS sensor on the rear camera is a larger number than we usually see on smartphone cameras, but the real advantage here should be that triple image sensing technology. The triple part refers to the 23 MP sensor itself, laser autofocus, and an interesting tidbit called predictive hybrid autofocus. That last one should be good for taking active shots of races or sports — the sensor’s algorithms can predict where subjects will move and how, which helps dynamically adjust the focus accordingly. That should make for sharper images in the end. The laser autofocus, as usual, can sense depth. All that together should mean sharper pictures and less shutter lag — Sony says the phone can go from standby to snapping a picture in 0.6 seconds.
The sensor is joined by the BIONZ image processor and a 24 mm wide-angle Sony G lens. As for video, it’s possible to record in 4k, and Sony has added their 5-axis image stabilization tech to the phone, which compensates for the phone being moved up and down, tilted, and rotated slightly during filming. There’s also a 13 MP front camera that can record video in 4k resolution.
Otherwise, it’s the usual premium 2016 Android 6.0 smartphone. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage (the latter is a dual SIM model), and a 5.2″ 1080p display. Sounds like Sony has backed off having 4k display model completely, like they had last year — considering that Sony is making a home VR play with the PlayStation VR, there was never much reason to have one on one of their smartphones. The phone has a metal frame with 2.5D glass on top, and while we’re bummed that Sony doesn’t make the same great waterproof devices that they used to, the XZ is at least water-resistant. Connectivity features include LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Miracast, Bluetooth 4.2, DLNA, GPS, and NFC, and there’s also a fingerprint sensor.
The 2,900 mAh battery is a bit smaller than most we’ve seen in premium smartphones in 2016. Sony has used a USB Type-C charging port like most others, too. While a quick charger will be included with the phone, the better battery feature is Battery Care. That feature now works with Qnovo adaptive charging, which keeps the battery from degrading over time. It’s a smart charging program that adjusts current and learns usage habits — if you always charge your phone overnight and wake up at the same time, the phone will stop charging at 90 percent and only finish shortly before you usually wake up.
Sony also announced the Xperia X Compact, a plastic 4.6″ phone with the same camera, but with a Snapdragon 650 SoC, a 720p display, a 5 MP front camera, and a 2,700 mAh battery.
We haven’t heard anything about pricing or availability, but Sony phones tend to be more expensive, so we don’t expect them to be competitive on price. Sony says both phones will get a global launch, with the Xperia X Compact coming in September and the Xperia XZ in October.