Sony Xperia Z1 and Z1S – 5 Reasons to buy and 5 Reasons to pass

by: Joshua VergaraFebruary 6, 2014

The Sony Xperia Z1, with its beautiful design aesthetics and high-end specifications, is easily one of the best smartphones of 2013. While only an unlocked variant was available in the US so far, which you’d have to pay full price for, the Sony flagship device, called the Xperia Z1S in this instance, finally made its way to T-Mobile, albeit with a few minor differences, but with the same hardware as its international counterpart.

Wondering if you should pick up either of these smartphones? Today, we bring to you 5 reasons to buy, and 5 reasons to pass on, the Sony Xperia Z1 or Z1S. Let’s take a look!


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The Sony Xperia Z1 and Z1S feature a design that is unique to only the latest Sony devices, and is difficult to find with any other Android OEM. With its glass-on-glass design on a metal frame for the Z1, and plastic frame for the Z1S, make for devices with a very premium feel. Such as design definitely brings up questions about its capability of surviving a fall, but as we’ve seen during the drop test, these devices are quite sturdy as well.


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With specifications that include a 2.2 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, Adreno 330 GPU, and 2 GB of RAM, the Sony Xperia Z1 and Z1S fall squarely in the top-tier of Android smartphones currently available, and can easily handle anything you can throw at them.


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The Xperia Z1 and Z1S feature a 20.7MP Exmor RS sensor, coupled with a 27 mm f/2.0 G Lens module, making it one of the most powerful cameras in the Android space, especially when you consider the fact that it is in a slim body. You can get very good quality shots, which can be enhanced creatively using small add-ons.


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The software is also of the reasons to buy the Sony Xperia Z1 and Z1S. The Xperia UI is very minimalistic, and provides an almost stock-like experience, with Small Apps and Sony Apps like Walkman further enhancing the experience.


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And the final, and depending on how you use your smartphone, possibly the most important reason to buy the Sony Xperia Z1 or Z1S is its IP58 rating, making it dust and waterproof. Yes, as a lot of people keep saying, you can use these smartphones in the shower, or also use it to take some great underwater photos.


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Both the Sony Xperia Z1 and Z1S feature a 5-inch display with 1080p display which provides a vivid Sony TV-like experience. Unfortunately, the display suffers from very poor viewing angles. Granted, this might not be a big deal for everyone, but if it is one, the viewing angles, or lack thereof, is certainly very noticeable on this display.


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The bezel of the smartphone is quite large, especially at the top and bottom, and make for a very large device. Keeping in mind a lot of the other 5-inch smartphones available, the Xperia Z1 is comparatively a much bigger device, and this large size could be a turn off for some.


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We talked about how the simplicity of the Xperia UI is a reason to buy the Xperia Z1 or Z1S, but this minimalistic approach also means that the interface is devoid of many different features that can be found on flagship devices by other Android OEMs. The UI may be too simple for some.


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While the camera does take good pictures for general everyday shooting, anyone looking for anything closer to pro-quality will be disappointed. The camera doesn’t process dark colors very well. High noise levels come out, not only in low light shots, but also in just the dark areas of quite literally any photo. What is worse is that noise is very smudgy in these areas, and is a letdown to find.

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While the fact that the device is dust and waterproof is a big plus, the hardware parts within this protective casing happen to provide a less than stellar experience. For one, the speak lacks sound fidelity and power. And secondly, the battery, while decent, requires power saving to be on, which still remaining frugal with your use, to get more than a day of use out of the device. It might not be the worst battery performance out there, but if you’re someone for whom battery life is a big factor, the Xperia Z1 and Z1S may leave you disappointed.

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And so, there you have it. The reasons to buy or pass on the Sony Xperia Z1. Especially for those of you who are on T-Mobile, which is the only place that you can get this flagship Xperia phone in the US, this is the way of getting into Sony’s image of Android. While water and dust proofing are probably the main trump cards, we also needed to point at good and bad aspects of the camera, primarily. Yes it is one of the best cameras in the Android space but its flaws are rather hard to overlook. All in all, however, you have a highly capable phone in one of the most attractively designed bodies around.


  • wezi427

    Verizon! Please to take notice.

  • Jayfeather787

    Overall I think it’s a pretty nice phone.

    • It is indeed a very nice phone, JayFeather787! Do you remember the Xperia ZL? It had epic top and bottom bezels, I believe a 78% ratio of screen to body, which, at the time was a big deal. Here’s a pic of it compared to the Xperia Z. ZL is in the right. This is what people want – more screen, less bezel, and Sony’s legendary build quality and a higher screen to body ratio!

      Sony is watching, I know they are paying close attention. And they are sourcing better displays now, so the viewing angle thing will be a thing of the past. Stay tuned for MWC!

      • Brendon Brown

        Sony listens to what their consumers want, a quality I wish all companies had.

        • Mike Bastable

          they do not

          • Brendon Brown

            People told them to go for IPS instead of TFT, thats what they did. Small screen top specs? Thats what they did.Less bezel? go checkout an article on Xperia Blog, near zero bezel. Stock like simplistic software, they did that too, dual speakers ? On the Z2 aswell, I heard of a possible new firmware for their cameras, thats what everyone wanted fixed too. There were some people who wanted Sony to integrate their Gaming sphere into their mobile space, meet Playstation Now. So .. yeah, recently they’re giving the consumers what they want .. :)

        • On a Clear Day

          Historically, company culture and bottom line speaking, Brendon, Sony as a company has been one of THE least interested of all in pleasing their customers; rather being more desirous of doing everything within the creative scope of their highly motivated and not very dumb executives’ power to make it so that, if you buy Sony – you will have to buy Sony’s peripherals for your equipment, because nothing made by anyone else is even slightly compatible. Back when they ruled the video world – the professional portion – they were regarded as the 800 pound gorilla.

          But – ze chickens, de did cometh home to roost in due course and Sony’s fortunes turned for the worse – exacerbated by their forays into multitudinous sideshow endeavors – like movies.

          Sony has always had a reputation for building great quality hardware, but listening to and caring about the heartfelt concerns of their customers and trying to open up possibilities – rather than shut them down? Well, that was never their strong suit. Perhaps the tiger has changed its stripes though? I hope so; it would be nice for Samsung to have some truly serious competition from a pedal to the metal company with just as much techno savvy and power as they that was truly committed to producing products we can become excited about. If that is what they truly are now about – I will be open to giving them serious consideration, but at this point, only time will tell.

          • Brendon Brown

            Im saying recently, I agree with you when you say that they never used to though. :)

          • On a Clear Day

            If they are smart – coupled with being sincere – they will continue on the course you have perceived them to apparently be following – and to the degree that they help, rather than hinder us, in the pursuit of our goals and make their products irresistibly tempting to possess and beautiful to behold they will become more and more successful.

            The determining factor – for people and corporations – and from which the ultimate result can be predicted with virtual unfailing accuracy, is what the original intention was of those that set something in motion. You can’t make a delicious Apple pie, for instance, if you start out with rotten apples – no matter how much a genius chef you may be.

            Sony embraced the dark side in terms of its previous business model by trying to lock people in; that didn’t work out too well for them and resulted in their experiencing a fall from their previous position of power and joining the ranks of the “also rans”. Whether they can rise again will depend on the quality of their leadership and that leadership’s ability to understand that the world they once ruled – that responded to and submitted to despotism because the freedom to choose equal or better values wasn’t there – no longer exists.

          • Brendon Brown

            Well I think Kazuo Hirai is setting up the future of the company on a solid new foundation. He’s steering Sony back into the right direction now. (Opinion)

      • Mike Bastable

        Ihave an Xperia Z, which serves as alarm clock and occasional media player (because of the awful screen). I also hate the design of the Sony icons (really bad) but the screen is the killer here, washed out unless you look directly at it.
        A very disappointing phone that receives late updates. Also SONY is AWFUL!, their own programs are all rubbish and the Xperia app promotions are misleading and poor.
        Sony is an A+ manufacturer selling its customers B- products. Just NOT good enough in 2014!

      • Sony FC

        ZL body per ration is 75% Dude

  • Aniket Patni

    Hey Josh. You’ve incorrectly stated that both the Z1 and the Z1s have 3GB of RAM. The correct amount is 2GB. Great article!

  • Brendon Brown

    Reasons to buy are overpowering here

  • Jack Jennings

    Battery life on my Z1 is by far the best of any smartphone I’ve ever used – I’d really have to try hard to rinse it one day! Surprised that’s been put as a negative here. Oh also, it has 2GB of RAM, not 3.

  • Data

    Reason not to buy: historical lack of updates on Sony devices.

    • BATMAN

      No, Sony does update their phones but with big updaets only, worth the extra like week wait. Just cus you’re heisenberg you think you can speak shit ! Well … Bitch, Im Batman !

      • fud

        Fuck off

  • nishantsirohi123

    it is a very good device, and well, sony is making devices look different despite following a similar design language, something samsung needs to learn from