T-Mobile Sony Xperia Z1s (Review)

Sony Xperia Z1S (8)

Sony has been vastly improving their mobile phone architecture over the past year with such phones like the Sony Xperia Z, it ran smooth, had a different design then the usual smartphones out there and was waterproof. Sony has built upon that and provided us with the Sony Xperia Z1s. While it’s not the Sony Xperia Z2 that was shown off at Mobile World Congress last month, it still has some needed improvements over its predecessor. Is it worth taking a dip with the Sony Xperia Z1s?

Design

Sony Xperia Z1S (6)Like the Xperia Z, its built with full glass on the front and back which is scratch resistant and shatter proof. Adopted from the Z is also its “Omnibalance” design. Picking it up, i thought it felt much better in the hand then the Z model. The corners are more curved and not as pointy as before. Looking around the sides, the ports are easier to identify while still being fairly secluded. If you run your fingers around the device you wouldn’t know they were there. I’m not a fan of the volume toggle being right next to the power button. If you aren’t looking you can mistakenly press one for the other. The connection for the charging dock could have used a flap as it just seems to stick out and look out-of-place.

Speaker placement has vastly approved from the Z, where originally it was on the side and it was a very little grill. It sounded tinny and also you were liable to cover it with your finger. On the Z1s, they have gone ahead and moved it to the bottom. While sound still isn’t the greatest compared to other smartphones, its much better then before. I do like the addition of the camera button which is sorely missed on smartphones no matter what you say. You can activate the camera anytime by holding the button down.

The 5″ Full HD TRILUMINOS™ Display while supposed to be close to the Z, looks slightly better in my eyes. Images look sharper and have more color compared to some of the washed out display in the Z.

Hardware

An ongoing issue with Sony is they announce devices and release them much later making the specs being behind whatever currently is coming out. Luckily there hasn’t been much of a change as far as processors are concerned. The Sony Xperia Z1S runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip mixed with 2GB RAM. Internal memory is at 32GB, external storage of 64GB can be added via microSD card. Sony Xperia Z1S (5)

For the power user, there is a large battery underneath at 3,000mAh. Battery management has always been a plus with the Xperia Z phones and I have been able to go about a day with it. Additional options such as STAMINA mode and low battery mode help prolong your daily usage of the device. Waterproof and dust resistant features are available on the Xperia Z1S and not much as changed in that field besides it being at IP58 compared to IP57 on the Z.

Performance

Seeing that this came out in January, I was expecting or crossing my fingers for it to have Android’s KitKat 4.4. Unfortunately its only at Android 4.3″ as of now but support and updates are coming. It being a Sony skin still makes it one of the most minimal altered OS systems out. Taking it through apps didn’t cause any problems as well as using apps such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Chrome and others.

Other features like NFC have been instant when tapping it against a pair of Sol Republic Tracks Air, and bluetooth as helped to keep contact. I did notice when using bluetooth or sometimes playing music, if i try to go into another app the sound stops. I think it can contribute to the power saving options, or just that the software is buggy. It annoys me more because I stay on Spotify and Google Music and always walk around listening to tracks.

Using the T-Mobile service in New York City has been pretty good.  I haven’t experienced any drop calls and speeds were getting as high as over 40MBPs. T-Mobile’s 4G coverage has vastly improved over the past year and you can check out their coverage HERE.

Camera

With the Xperia Z I put the camera through its paces with picture-taking and video recording at 13MP. The lens has been updated to 20.7 MP and the quality has stepped it up a notch which looks to have been offered a hand from its Exmor RS sensor and G Lens. It has taken good shots in tons of settings and even used the camera on a couple of prior articles when I didn’t feel like reaching for my actual camera. The Superior Auto+ option does a cool job of fine tuning to its surroundings, and the other options are fun to play with such as Background Defocus(focus only on part of image you want), AR(augmented reality) effects and others.

Wait for Z2?

Yes, we know the Z2 was announced at MWC, but we have no idea when it’s actually going to drop based on Sony’s trend. This was announced told to us back in September and gave out in January this year. If you are looking for better battery life, slightly more colorful display, and more megapixels in your camera then the Z1S is for you. As its prior iterations, it’s a exclusive only to T-Mobile and Z2 looks to follow the trend. The Sony Xperia Z1S is a delight to use based its sufficient use of power and look, but its look may also divert people away.

 

Sony’s Xperia Z1S is available for $0 down with monthly payments of $25/2yrs. Otherwise you can buy it outright for $600.