Sony Xperia XZ Premium Travel Writer Review

It seemed like fate when Best Buy asked me to review the new Sony Xperia XZ Premium phone since I have been writing a bit lately about smartphone photography and travel photography in general. This phone is set to take smartphone photography to a whole new level. And why wouldn’t it? It’s got Sony’s camera technology behind it.

I don’t do tech talk. If you are looking for the details of how the phone does what it does, I can’t help you. I’m just a travel writer that relies heavily on my smartphone to quickly capture the non-DSLR moments of life on the road– like beautiful plates of food in darkened restaurants, sunsets, or almost anything that begs to be shared right now!

I have had two weeks to play with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and here’s what I think.

The Look

The phone is slim and sleek with Gorilla Glass front and back. The sides are a rounded plastic, with what looks like metal for both ends. I like the size. It measures just over 3″ x 6″, which is large but still fits into the front pocket of my traveling pants. That’s important for me because that’s where my phone lives.

Sony Xperia XZ PremiumThe 4K HDR Display is the first of its kind in a smartphone and I found it to be exceptional. I watched an episode of The Man in the High Castle, an Amazon Original available in 4K HDR. The image quality was impressive. With the possibility of flights without larger devices potentially looming, the display quality on a smartphone for travel purposes becomes more important.

 

The Feel

I like the weight of the phone– i.e. it doesn’t weigh down my pants. It didn’t feel flimsy or slippery. The glass is beveled just enough to improve the grip along the sides. I’d probably put a protective case on it because I am notoriously hard on devices, but it’s a shame. This may be the one phone I’ve used that felt like it belonged in my hand without a case.

The Features

The camera was what I really wanted to love. When we travel, Gary shoots most of our photos for publication with a DSLR camera. While he is doing that, I am shooting everything in sight with my smartphone. Having the Sony was more like carrying around a high-end point-and-shoot camera, rather than a phone. The 19 megapixels exceeded my expectations on almost every shot. The best part was that the camera anticipated my needs.

When I was shooting food pictures, the camera knew it and adjusted the its settings to get me the best photo. It evaluated every photo situation and made better choices than I did when I used the manual settings. Sony calls the system “Motion Eye with Predictive Capture.” I call it travel writer ready.

And then there was the super slow motion video. Without getting techno-geeky on you, the super slow motion feature on the Xperia shoots at a rate of 960 frames per second, compared to the Slo-mo feature on my iPhone 6, which tops out at 240 frames per second. That’s four times slower and at a higher resolution. I actually had a hard time finding things that moved fast enough naturally to not look like they were standing still when shot in super slow motion. The chicken running in the video above is a good example. That hen was running, but in Xperia super slow motion she is barely moving.

Editing images and video was easy, as was posting directly to social media channels. I can see this phone easily becoming my go-to on the road.

The second most important feature for me is battery life. I shot and posted photos for a full afternoon without killing the battery. It also handled streaming video without any difficulty. The only thing that seemed to be hard on the battery was shooting in super slow motion video mode and that is understandable. The USB-C connection will make it easy to use my existing portable chargers for battery boosts on the fly.

I also adore that this phone can handle a little moisture. There are so many times when I find myself trying to capture something like sea spray (oooh, there’s an idea for the super slow motion mode!) or a thunderstorm and need a phone that can go along for the ride.

I told you I wouldn’t talk tech, but I will say that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor has the speed and power necessary to bring all the features of the phone together.

Overall, I was impressed with the Sony’s ability to do what I needed, when I needed it to. The helpful folks at Best Buy should be able to answer any techie questions you have and get you hooked up with one.

Disclaimer: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.