February 27, 2017
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The smartphone market is an unforgiving one, as phones live and die based on how consumers adopt them. For Sony, the once fledgling smartphone maker has slowly shifted away from working with carriers to sell its phones in the US market, moving instead to the direct-to-consumer route.

Last year’s Sony Xperia XZ aimed to reinvigorate the company, but given the kind of competition it faced over the holiday season, it’s difficult to say if it even managed to nudge the company into any meaningful direction.

Read: Xperia XZ Premium & XZs – everything you need to know

Despite that, the uncertainty is not preventing Sony from moving onto its next project, where it’s introducing a slew of devices for Mobile World Congress 2017. Extending its Xperia XZ line, Sony has two very similar devices that might pique the interest of consumers: the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and XZs. Given Sony’s notoriety of late in the mirrorless camera world, they’re bringing their expertise in that area to its latest two Android-powered smartphones.

The obvious difference between the two right from the get-go is their size, where the size disparity between the two will arguably be one of the biggest contributors of which of the two will appeal to consumers. Those who prefer smaller-sized phones will want to stick with the XZs, which features a 5.2-inch 1080p Triluminos display. Meanwhile, the XZ Premium no doubt garners attention because of the 5.5-inch 4K HDR display it’s flaunting.

In a way, one could assert that the Xperia XZs is a “mini” of sorts due to the specs it’s boasting in comparison to the XZ Premium. For example it features a Snapdragon 820 with 4GB of RAM and just an overall smaller footprint. Whereas with the Xperia XZ Premium, the device leverages Qualcomm’s newest Snapdragon 835 chip with 4GB of RAM and better water resistance with its construction.

Another key note to mention about the XZ Premium is the 4K HDR screen, which adjusts things like the contrast, color, and clarity to match whatever you’re doing on the phone. It looks good when we checked it out, but in terms of the resolution, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not it’s something that’ll appeal to consumers.

Going back to what we mentioned earlier, Sony paid extra attention to the cameras on these phones – a number-crunching 19MP 1/2.3″ Exmor RS sensor with triple image sensing technology, 5-axis stabilization, and ridiculously slow 960 FPS slow motion at HD (not Full HD). There cameras aren’t messing around, especially when they’re also touted to be superior at handling low-light against the competition. During our quick time checking the phones, we did manage to briefly try out the 960 FPS mode, which does nicely to capture those in-the-moment situations.

Beyond the camera, Sony also highlighted the phones’ smart battery optimizations, which will prevent them from continuously charging when they’re left plugged in overnight. Or alternatively, power usage will be adjusted accordingly depending on what’s being done. Speaking of power, the XZ Premium in particular will no doubt one of the big boys on the block mainly because it’s going to be one of the first to leverage the Snapdragon 835 processor – whereas with the XZs, it’s treated to the Snapdragon 820. In terms of performance, the two are equipped in handling all the basic necessities, but you can bet that the XZ Premium won’t disappoint in other areas.

When it comes to their designs, they employ the same familiar design language that Sony is known for. However, the shiny mirror-esque finish of the Xperia XZ Premium is just a magnet for fingerprints and smudges. While the shiny look of the phone bounces light nicely, after a while of handling it, the attraction begins to dissipate. Meanwhile, though, the XZs features a matte finish, which makes it the complete opposite of its sibling. Sure, it does better in keeping a cleaner facade, its water resistance protection is just a smidgen behind – albeit, it’s not a deal breaker.

For right now, we have definitive pricing and a release date for the Xperia XZs. It’ll arrive in the US courtesy of select retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy beginning on April 5, 2017 with a suggested price of $699.99. Seriously, though, that’s a lot of money to shell out and will be competing in pretty much the same pricing category as many of today’s flagship phones.

Knowing that, it begs the question of where we’ll see the Xperia XZ Premium. Given that there’s already an indication based on the price and what you get with the XZs, it shouldn’t be a shocker to see the XZ Premium north of $700. That’s at the very least, but we’ll see how it all plays out once it’s revealed when it arrives in the US sometime in the late spring time frame.

Read next: Huawei P10 hands-on

John Velasco
Storyteller, ongoing health nut, persistent complainer of running, & religious flosser.
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