Sony Xperia Z1 review: A smartphone with a camera-sized sensor

Published Nov 1, 2013 |

DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

The Sony Xperia Z1 was launched in September at the IFA consumers electronics trade show in Berlin and replaces the Xperia Z, which itself was only launched at CES in January as Sony’s top-of-the-line smartphone. The new model comes with the same impressive build quality and waterproof body as its predecessor and with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor and a 5-inch 1080p screen, the Z1 offers top-end specs all around.

For photo-centric users the really big news is the Z1’s camera. The 1/2.3-inch sensor in the Sony’s camera module is the same size as you would find in most consumer level compact cameras and therefore larger than the 1/3-inch sensors common in the current crop of smartphones. 

The comparatively large sensor is combined with a high pixel count of 20.7MP, a fast F2.0 lens and a physical shutter button, all of which demonstrate that Sony, like other high-end mobile device manufacturers, has identified camera performance as a key differentiator in the highly competitive smartphone market.

We’ve put the Sony Xperia Z1 through our rigorous testing regimen. Read on to find out if the impressive specs translate into top-level image quality.

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 20.7 MP 1/2.3 Exmor RS CMOS sensor
  • F2.0 lens
  • 1080p/30 fps video
  • HDR video

Other Specifications

  • Snapdragon 800 quad-core 2.2GHz processor
  • 5-inch 1080p Sony TRILUMINOS display (441ppi)
  • Android 4.2
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Waterproof body (IP55/58)
  • 16 GB internal memory
  • microSD up to 64GB
  • 3,000 mAh battery, non-removable
  • Available in black, white and purple

Our 11-page review

We’ve considered every aspect of the Sony Xperia Z1 camera, with the photographer in mind. We examined the user interface of the native camera app and its special features. We experimented with the camera’s performance when taking stills and video, and had a play with the device’s many special feature modes. Click any of the links below for more information of specific functions and continue to our conclusion for a final summary of our findings.

Tags: review, mobile, smartphone, sony, xperia, xperia-z1

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