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Sony Xperia Z1 : let's get some impressions! (surprised not to see one already)

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well guys I'm amazed by what this phone can achieve sound wise and I wonder why there is not a thread open for it! It is definitely a wonderful DAP, and pairing it either to your car system or a portable amp makes it shine even more.

If you don't know what it looks like, here :

Sony-Xperia-Z1-lifestyle-004.jpg

For a size comparison :


(thanks to frandroid and phonearena for the pics, I will take my own Z1 and my iphone for thread if needed or asked smily_headphones1.gif )

Let's be quick about the specs :

Snapdragon 800 processor,
2go RAM,
Adreno 330,
5" IPS 1080p screen,
16gb + micro SD slot up to 64gb class 10
USB OTG capable
3000mAh battery
Android 4.2.2 stock with Sony UI but you can crank it way further.
Waterproof Dustproof Cocaproof (tested and agreed... For 30 minutes)
2 years warranty.

AFAIK for the sound specs, it might get a Qualcomm DAC but Sony achieved a dead clean implementation. No hiss at all in my experience (only a very very slight one appears when it is amped) no distortions either. SQ is powerful enough to drive Fostex T50rp at a loud level, so I assume that it will drive any portable cans very loudly. It has more power than an IPhone 5.The jack output is clean.

It reads stock 16bit/44khz (Android kernels drivers are the cause?) but I wonder if it can be cranked too. Don't know what hardware can limit it so it could not read 24bit/98 or 24bit/192. A former dev could tell you.


Ok! For this review I will try to make it decent. smily_headphones1.gif

I/Smartphone design.

Well I might be forced to take pics of my own rig to show you more. Coming this week-end in hi-def.

What you get is a simple rectangular phone, dead flat, lightweight (I recall some people complaining about its weight but it is lighter than my iPhone? People these days). It is made of two solid glass panels, there is an efficient but sadly scratch sensitive anti-shatterproof layer on the screen. This phone definitely needs a Liquid Sapphire/Nillkin/Glass-M/Crystal Armor protection. It will make you much comfortable with it. I'm bothered by little marks that I would never haved had if I did protect it in first place, so if you plan to buy it, you NEED this. The thing is solid for sure.

I was not really enthusiast about the design at first hand. I mean, it looked so angular, so flat, so big... but finally it is a good choice. Plus unboxing it was like discovering something precious. It is beautiful. This phone is not as big as I first thought, and on top of that it is discret. Yet classy. If you show it to somebody, people will like how simple and clean it is, with its premium look and feel. But if you don't want to show it, just check for mails or notifications, you won't get more attention from others than with a regular smartphone.

It has four buttons on the side, one for power, two-in-a-row for volume levels and one for the camera. They're placed where they need to be, since the phone is big (I have long fingers and big hands, it is usable with one hand but still, buttons on the upper side would have been a real mess). The camera button is placed where it needs to be too. You don't notice it unless you flip the phone to take a picture or record a movie.

The jack output is on the upper side of the phone, close to it are the internal speaker and the LED for notifications. On the lower side is the loudspeaker (I can't tell if there is two loudspeakers or just one) and the micro.

One funny thing is that when you search it through your pocket and don't look at it, you'll search for the buttons with your fingers to know how you are handling it. I mean, the wrong or the right way. It is symetrical so figure by yourself.

KEYWORDS : It is solid, symetrical and slim. Premium feel, you will love it. Only flaws it has might be its overall size (you won't like it if you have little hands) and the scratch-easy layer on the screen.

But for every problem needs a solution, you can solve everything ! Sony is about to release the Xperia Z1s, it will have the exact same specs but will be a tiny version with a 4,3'' 720p IPS screen.
About the scratchy thing, just put a protective layer on it and your problems will fade away.


II/Smartphone use.

Coming from iOS, I'm used to things that work the easiest way. I've never had Android on a device before, except when I was trying some of them in demo stores. So I did put my fingers on Galaxy Note 3, LG G2, and then my Xperia Z1.

So here are my 2 cents : talking about stock ROM, the Z1 is really amazing. It provides me a so much enjoyable experience than my iPhone ! It is damn EASY to use, definitely more intuitive than other android devices I could test.
Something valuable is that if you ever sync your contacts/notes etc with just a mailbox, you will get everything back on your new phone right after switching it ON. It did ask me a little couple of questions, then TADAM, done. I was in the middle of a commercial place, coming from an annoying « connect to your PC to unlock, synchronize with iTunes, etc » it was like smelling fresh air for the first time since a decade.

I haven't rooted my phone or anything yet. Don't need to. The UI is damn smooth, easy, simple and intuitive, it is almost Google android barebone with some Sony's touch on top of it. Multitasking is a relief, just open, tap the multi scroll button, check, swipe this out, tap this window...

Quickwindow widgets are useful too. I don't use them much but sometimes when I need to write a number or a name on-the-go and search something, it is useful indeed.

Widgets, design and notifications are non-intrusive and well studied. I rarely go into my Menu, just unlock the screen, get what I need from the « launcher » (is that the good name ? It is the main window, if you see what I mean), & lock the screen when I'm finished.

About the screen, let's be honest : no matter what you can read over the web (Yellow hue ? Display Lottery ?), it blows my retina screen by far. It is crisp, beautiful, I love the colors too. I find them to be vivid at my taste. Brightness is good, not as much as my iPhone but you can definitely use it in full daylight without any annoyance. Some people have been complaining about the viewing angles, I might be lucky since I don't have problems here.
I have a very very slight yellow hue that I only see when I look at my screen in angles where I can't distinguish what is displayed. It is the same as saying that my car is blue during daytime, and black during nighttime. Figure for yourself.

About the camera (since it was branded like a « camera phone »), it is excellent. Not a DSLR of course but for a smartphone (every model included) or a compact camera, it is an excellent choice. You just need to get used to how it works and go. Get your snappy pictures.

As for the waterproof feature, you will fully understand the concept when you will try it. Washing your phone under water becomes as natural as washing your hands. I did let it stay in Coca-cola for 30 minutes (not recommended to do so haha) and nothing to say, I just washed it under a big flood of water, cleaned it with my t-shirt. It didn't care, everything works as it must up to this date.

Did I say that the battery is unkillable ? If you are a heavy user like me, you will be happy to know that it can last (I speak about real usage) a full day withstanding video (YouTube included) music internet in LTE, bluetooth and much more. If you're more of the average type, it will last two or three days easily. If you're only crazy about listening music, it will last 2 or 3 days too since the phone runs really low on the battery for this kind of tasks.
Maybe Stamina mode is what gives it the management needed.

Last for the more important (it is a phone) : the calls quality is good. Microphone does it job like it should. Internal speaker is clear and loud too, maybe too loud or not enough directed when you don't want people close to you to hear the person you're calling. The loudspeaker is good when you want to watch a video, but I wonder why : it has a flaw in calls. The voice is not raised up like other medias are with xLoud.

KEYWORDS : The Sony/Android 4.2.2 UI is amazing, it is a wonderful phone. You will love the battery if you're used to batterys like that of iPhones. A relief if you come from iOS and want to discover something more open, more intuitive. Just try it.


III/Musical experience.

Ok folks we're on Head-Fi, if you wanted a review of the smartphone only there are tons of guys out there that do it better than me. But not a lot take the time to make a proper review about the sound quality of the Xperia Z1, and it is a shame. So let me give it a try. Next time will be your turn I hope !

All the test were made using Deezer. I haven't charged any personal library on the phone memory yet, so I don't have Poweramp or Neutron installed. Keep in mind that I have a full stock ROM, no tweaks like Viper, Oct4 Soundmod or anything. Deezer uses the same EQ than the Walkman app, so you can run either flat, some presets (I personally didn't like the presets) or custom yours with the 5 bands EQ. There is also a TrueBass cursor, you can go from -10 to +10, stock is put to 0.

I did listen to music with the following setups :
-Z1 → my headphones/earphones/my car
-Z1 → Digizoid ZO².3 → my headphones/earphones
-Z1 → C&C BH → my headphones/earphones
-Z1 → ZO².3 → BH → my headphones/earphones

In my car I only listen to music with bluetooth. USB isn't compatible with mine, it was originally made for iOS devices. But it manages Android bluetooth without problems (only flaw is that I don't get the name of songs displayed on the car's screen).

I use either my Fostex T50RP, my Sony MDR-XB600 or (recently) the earphones that came with the phone. I did'nt bother trying them sooner because I'll receive my Denon C301 in a couple of days, and generally earbuds shipped inbox are not that great. But out of curiosity I did unpack the Sony ones and plugged them. What a good surprise ! This is nowhere near bad quality earbuds. They provide clarity, dynamic sound, an open soundstage and the little things are very responsive to amping. Maybe once amped, the bass can cover a bit of the spectrum, and it has more upper bass than lower bass. Still this signature is very likeable, plus it is comfortable for your ears.


Now I said that I will make it decent, so I need some time to listen to precise songs so you can get the name, check the quality over Deezer by yourself and get an opinion if the quality of the file is sufficient to give this amateurish review some credits or not. Whatever. Titles and true part of the review coming soon !
Edited by Vanarian - 1/8/14 at 5:16pm
post #2 of 15
You are right! Mine sounds much better than Galaxy S4, soundstage is impressive. Would be nice if anyone could A/B with ZX1, I bet they share a lot in common.

Enviado de meu C6943 usando Tapatalk
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

So true, I would enjoy a comparison with ZX1 too! 

post #4 of 15
If it had amoled I would consider.once you see amoled you cannot go back to lcd 1080p panels no matter how IPS they are lol.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicday View Post

If it had amoled I would consider.once you see amoled you cannot go back to lcd 1080p panels no matter how IPS they are lol.

Well it is more up to your personal taste wink.gif I don't find Amoled on phones to be better than IPS, I had fun running synced videos on Note 3 (Super Amoled) and G2 (IPS) at the same time, and the screen of the G2 was damn beautiful. Colours on the Note 3 were way oversaturated and there was hardly a noticeable difference in black depths, I'd say that a Super Amoled calibrated to get a normal contrast could change my mind if it exists.
post #6 of 15

Really looking forward to the Z1 Compact... has the same specs as the Z1 just smaller screen and hopefully the same DAC.

 

http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/products/phones/xperia-z1-compact/?utm_source=sactive&utm_medium=blogs&utm_campaign=xperiaz1compact

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by goffer View Post
 

Really looking forward to the Z1 Compact... has the same specs as the Z1 just smaller screen and hopefully the same DAC.

 

http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/products/phones/xperia-z1-compact/?utm_source=sactive&utm_medium=blogs&utm_campaign=xperiaz1compact

 

Smaller BETTER screen that is, as Sony have finally got with the program and put an IPS panel in there.

 

Looking forward to this phone also.

post #8 of 15

I think it's likely the DAC will be the same given that the other hardware is.  It's only the screen and size that seem to be different.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by malifact View Post

I think it's likely the DAC will be the same given that the other hardware is.  It's only the screen and size that seem to be different.

Same DAC in all S800 devices.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NZtechfreak View Post

Same DAC in all S800 devices.

Yup, only difference is implementation. Isolated or not, more juice or not... I'm even more surprised when I hear that Z1 is limited and cannot handle Hi Res at stock state.

My bad for the detailed review by the way, I'm ending my first semester graduations right now so I had to delay it a bit. Life doesn't wait for me to take it easy haha!
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by goffer View Post
 

Really looking forward to the Z1 Compact... has the same specs as the Z1 just smaller screen and hopefully the same DAC.

 

http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/products/phones/xperia-z1-compact/?utm_source=sactive&utm_medium=blogs&utm_campaign=xperiaz1compact


looking forward to it as well.just hope it's not limited to t-mobile again.don't really feel like spending $500+ on a phone for music when I can get a dedicated dap that has better sound

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by urtv View Post
 


looking forward to it as well.just hope it's not limited to t-mobile again.don't really feel like spending $500+ on a phone for music when I can get a dedicated dap that has better sound

 

Why get a DAP? Just get a USB DAC/amp for the Z1 Compact and be happy :)

post #13 of 15

I just got the X1s yesterday and it sounds fantastic.  Very open detailed sound with good separation and extension.  It is a big phone though and if you want to use and external usb amp or amp/dac you'll have to keep the flap covering the usb port open.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Happy to hear that you're happy ;)

 

I just got my Denon today (finally!) so my setup is complete, I shall be able to make a review. But I fly oversea tomorrow, my grand-father just died so I'll attend to say him goodbye. Will be there next week. 

 

Though I'm really surprised by what this phone can achieve, it is impressive.

post #15 of 15

Try it with the Neutron Player!  It is absolutely awesome!

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