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

We take a quick look at 5 reasons to buy, as well as 5 reasons to pass on, the Sony Xperia Z1 or Z1S.
February 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.