Sony Xperia Z1 Android phone (preview)

The Xperia Z1 is described by Sony as "the world's leading camera in a smartphone"

Sony has just lifted the lid on its newest flagship smartphone for 2013, the Xperia Z1, and there's a huge focus on photography. The 20-megapixel camera on the Xperia Z1 boasts a 1/2.3in sensor, a G lens with 27mm wide angle and a range of new software features including a burst mode that captures 61 images in two seconds.

Described by Sony as "the world's leading camera in a smartphone", it's clear the Xperia Z1 is all about imaging. The star of the show is what Sony calls the "G Lens". It has a 27mm wide angle, an f2.0 aperture, and a 1/2.3-type CMOS image sensor. It also includes 3x zoom. Sony says the 20-megapixel sensor has been designed to work better in low light conditions, and promises high shutter speeds will prevent blurry photographs when zoomed in.

The camera on the Xperia Z1 comes with a range of software features, highlighted by a "Timeshift burst" mode that takes 61 images in just two seconds — a second before and after pressing the shutter. There's also an "Info-Eye" feature that uses augmented reality to provide a visual search function on any captured landmarks or particular items.

The G lens has a 27mm wide angle, an f2.0 aperture, and a 1/2.3-type CMOS image sensor.
The G lens has a 27mm wide angle, an f2.0 aperture, and a 1/2.3-type CMOS image sensor.

Aside from its impressive looking camera, the Sony Xperia Z1 is basically an upgrade of Sony's existing Xperia Z and Xperia Z Ultra smartphones. It follows a similar design to both of these devices, that being a long rectangle shape with flat sides, square corners and a sheet of tempered glass on both the front and the back. However, the frame of the Xperia Z1 is a single piece of aluminium and that contributes to a rather hefty 170g weight.

Perhaps the best design feature of the Xperia Z1 is the fact that it is waterproof, not just water resistant. The phone will handle fresh water at up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes, and is also dust resistant, provided the flaps covering the microSD card slot, micro-USB port, and SIM card slot are all sealed. However, Sony has warned that the Xperia Z1 won't guard against salt water, liquid chemicals, sand, or mud.

The Xperia Z1 will handle fresh water at up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes but won't guard against salt water, liquid chemicals, sand, or mud.
The Xperia Z1 will handle fresh water at up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes but won't guard against salt water, liquid chemicals, sand, or mud.

The Xperia Z1 has predictably impressive specifications, highlighted by a 5in, full HD "Triluminos" display which is Sony's fancy marketing term for a new technology that claims to display a wider palette of colours. The phone is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, has 2GB of RAM and comes with 16GB of internal memory. A microSD card allows for memory expansion, while the phone is also 4G capable and will therefore work on all Australian and New Zealand networks.

Other features include a large 3000mAh, non-removable battery and NFC-connectivity. Sony says it plans to launch over 100 NFC-compatible products by the end of 2013 including TVs, headphones, audio speakers, and tablets. The Xperia Z1 will also be compatible with the company's new QX10 and QX100 'smartphone lens cameras', which clip onto the device and use Wi-Fi to talk to an app that lets you change settings, zoom, and capture photos.

The frame of the Xperia Z1 is a single piece of aluminium.
The frame of the Xperia Z1 is a single piece of aluminium.

The Xperia Z1 runs Google's latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system but is once again skinned with Sony's own UI. The Battery Stamina mode feature first seen on the Xperia Z is also present here. It prevents applications from running when the screen is locked, therefore saving power. One new feature to the Xperia Z1 is PlayMemories Online, a cloud-based image and video service that is integrated into the Album application. The feature allows users to automatically upload captured photos with no storage limit.

The Sony Xperia Z1 will be available in black, white, and purple colour variants. The device will be sold through major Australian carriers Telstra, Optus and Virgin Mobile from late September. It will also be available outright for $779 through Sony Centres, Harvey Norman and Dick Smith Electronics retail stores.

A promotional video of the Sony Xperia Z1 can be viewed below.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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