Let’s get this out of the way first of all: the screen is big. It’s really big. The Sony Xperia Z1 is so big that it hurts your hands to use. This may or may not be a good thing depending on whether you have big hands and like big screens or not.
Sony Xperia Z1, available from £33 per month at Phones 4u.
Sony’s special version of Android made everything nigh-on impossible to find. Banners, option, widgets and menus popped up all over the place.
The phone even comes with its own version of music-finder app Shazam. It copes well with Miley Cyrus songs, identifying that, yes, I was listening to Wrecking Ball, but failed to identify even the most well-known Uzbekistani folk music. Play any song that originates east of Georgia and the app suggests that you’re listening to a Japanese woman singing karaoke.
While the software is awfully complicated, it’s difficult to fault the hardware at all. The screen is incredible. The 1080p, high-definition screen even makes the The Smurfs 2 trailer that came pre-loaded on the review unit look amazing.
The camera is certainly good, but doesn’t manage to top the iPhone 5S. Zooming in with the Xperia’s camera resulted in notable blurriness. After I took the plastic sleeve off the back of the phone, the problem was largely rectified.
The battery life is surprisingly good, as long as you don’t watch high definition films on full brightness. Perhaps the only real hardware issue is the nonsensical placement of the power/sleep button. It’s on the middle of the phone’s right side, where your thumb might sit if you have massive hands. I had to adjust my hand to use it.
Another much-hyped feature of the Xperia Z1 is the fact that it is, apparently, waterproof. Or at least, I think it said that somewhere on the internet. I filled a sink with water and dropped the phone in.
The touch screen doesn’t work underwater so you can’t really use Tinder, but you can take photos. Underwater selfies aren’t nearly as cool as you imagine. Luckily, the phone’s camera comes with a selection of “alternate reality” modes. It’s somewhat sad that this is the best thing to happen to any phone in the last decade.
Other AR modes include fairy children frolicking around and one that seems to be “generic celebration”. There are wreaths, a dove and hearts.
Set aside the Z1’s gimmicks, and think whether you can physically handle a giant five inch screen. If you have giant pockets, pianist fingers and lots of movies you want to watch, this phone may be for you. And if you’re looking for a high-end Android phone, keep the Z1 in mind – the screen is well worth the investment.