back to article Xperia XZ1: Sony spies with its MotionEye something beginning...

You know where you are with a Sony - this year’s are much like last year’s. And the year before that. The "Omnibalance" design is now reaching the end of its life - that’s official - and hasn’t changed in ages. Sony calls it "timeless", which means "around for a very long time". But then, why should it change? The Sony …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sony design....

    ...I've always liked their designs.

    Simple, Functional and no need to have the latest "me too" designs.

    Although they have done some stupid size ones.

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: Sony design....

      There seem to be two schools of Sony design. Simple, understated and tasteful (like this) and big, brash and shouty. Sony design, at its best, can take on the very best that other companies have to offer and show them what’s what. Sony design, at its worst, is all childish lumps, knobs, and flashing lights - which rather lets the side down.

      Thankfully, in recent years, we’ve seen more of the ‘good’ Sony and less of the bad. And I know that people seem to have a downer on Sony TVs - but I have two, one is twenty years old and the other is ten. They still work perfectly - so you can be sure that, when it comes to replacement time, I’ll be getting another.

      1. Dave 126

        Re: Sony design....

        The Sony CRT televisions - Trinitron - were very good, but they lost the crown when technology moved on against Panasonic plasma sets and Samsung LEDs. These days the Sony quantum dot stuff is good (and a lot cheaper), but LG's OLED sets are just sublime.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sony design....

          Buy a Sony TV with an LG OLED panel, even better than a LG.

          Sony know how to make great stuff. The XZ1 is likely to be my next phone. I don't see any other contenders..

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Sony design....

          "These days the Sony quantum dot stuff is good"

          You'll find that these panels are actually made by Samsung and that the cheaper Sony european TV sets are actually made by BEKO

 - note that Sony don't appear there.

          Seconded on Oled, but QD comes in a close second thanks to their efficiency.

  2. RockBurner

    Real world usage

    Are they still IP67/8 ? the environmental protection on Sonys is always one of the bigger selling points for me.

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Real world usage

      I believe* the bigger brothers are but that the XZ1 isn't. At least going by my colleagues experience after accidentally going swimming with his at the weekend....

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Real world usage @ SkippyBing

        IP67 / 68 Water resistance would likely not do much against swimming. Its basically water resistance if you drop the phone in say the sink. Water pressure from moving around and doing things like swimming will overcome it. You'll also run the risk of ingress if it's left in water too long.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Real world usage @ SkippyBing

          IP rating are also rated against freshwater. Not salt water, not chlorinated water.

    2. Brangdon

      Re: Real world usage

      Yes. I have one of the Compact ones. If you want a small phone with long battery life, waterproof and other flagship features, there's not a lot of other choices. I'm sad they took out the FM radio.

      1. RockBurner

        Re: Real world usage @Brangdon

        I currently have a Xperia Z5 Compact and it's an extremely good phone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Real world usage @Brangdon

          I concur. The funny things is that the "compact" Sonys are pretty much like the standard iPhones except for the square box, and if you cut off the top and bottom of an iPhone with the rounded bits, that's pretty much what it is. People go on about big Sony bezels, but they are smaller than iPhones due to putting the finger sensor on the side.

          I don't know whether it is poor marketing or lack of leverage with carriers, but Sonys are pretty much what iPhones would be if they had SD slots. And, now, headphone jacks.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Real world usage @Brangdon

          I have a Sony Ericsson LT15i

          It's very good, though only Android 4.0.4

          However while this phone makes the iPhone look stupidly expensive, I don't use data, except to occasionally add an App. I don't need a keyboardless pocket netbook. I have two tablets, laptops, PCs, servers

          Drat I'm on battery. Storm Ophelia. UPS on Internet

        3. Triggerfish

          Re: Real world usage @Brangdon

          MY Z3 is just starting to make me think I should replace it. Give Sony this they make not bad phones.

    3. DaLo
  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    No need to go as far as XZ1

    I have their latest XA1 and frankly which retails for around 200 quid and I frankly do not see why I should bother going further up. It is ridiculously fast by droid standards, camera is excellent and it just works (TM).

    In fact, they have consistently delivered working reliable and very well built stuff since ~ SP with the exception of some idiocies in the E series - E3, 4 and 5. If you ask anyone with an M Aqua for example if they will change their phone the answer would be: "Err... Why?"

    So while the XZ1 is probably excellent, the question is "Why oh, why?". There is very little differentiators between the Sony mid-range and their top of the range.

    Putting the fanboi icon - while I am not a fan of their other gear (I will never buy a Sony TV), the android based kit - their car stereos from ~ 2012 onwards and their phones are excellent. Credit where credit due.

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      Re: No need to go as far as XZ1

      I've read that starting the camera app on XA1 took few seconds - has this been fixed? Asking because missus needs a new 5-inch phone with good camera, and she likes Sony ones.

  4. Shades

    Great review...

    For a tablet. Any chance of telling us how it functions as, umm, y'know, a phone?

    1. Brangdon

      Re: Great review...

      Did you read the paragraph about reception in areas of poor coverage?

    2. Barry Rueger

      Re: Great review...

      My thought too. There was almost nothing that held any interest for me. All of the gee whiz gadgetry is novel, but I care about basic functionality first.

      1. eldakka

        Re: Great review...

        With a few exceptions, all modern phones meet minimum standards for usage as a phone - reception, phone app, address book, mic and speaker. There is not a lot of improvement to be made in those areas generally speaking.

        Therefore, unless the phone features are either truly remarkable, or noticeably sub-standard, there isn't really much to say - it worked.

  5. sabba

    Re. your comment on network coverage...

    I'd say that the planning office were perfectly correct to stop a god awful telephone mast being erected in woodland. Might be best sticking to the subject next time :-)

  6. Dave 126

    I'm assuming that the phone can output 3D files in .STL format, though I can't find confirmation of that online. My assumption is based on Sony stating that the files can be uploaded to a range of printing bureaus and not just a Sony partner, suggesting a standard file format.

    If this stuff is interesting, it's worth noting that Qualcomm are looking to get active IR scanning into phones next year, supported by silicon in their Snapdragon series.

    Fun times ( I may soon have a reason to bring my 3D printer out of storage)

    1. Siberian Hamster

      I don't need no stinking title

      Nope the phone doesn't output .stl, it outputs a zip file with an .obj, .mtl and jpg triplet. I've found a bit of open source called open3mod that does the trick of opening the files and allowing you to export to .stl.

      Your assumption is correct, you can upload to sketchfab from the app and get things printed from there.

      1. Dave 126

        Re: I don't need no stinking title

        Cheers Mr Hamster! .OBJ I can deal with.

  7. Dave 126

    The mention of active noise cancelling suggests that this handset still has Sony's TRRRS 3.5mm socket. Compatible with standard headsets, it allows stero mics to be used simultaneously with stero audio out (eg noise cancelling on board the phone with selected headsets) or else the use of Sony's stero condenser microphone for filming or recording jam sessions.

  8. Daedalus

    Ah memories...

    Many many many years ago I got my first tranny, a Philips that just about got Radio Luxembourg under good conditions and chewed through batteries like you wouldn't believe. Then this plonker showed up at our school after his parents moved back from Hong Kong or wherever. He had a suntan, leopard pattern swimming trunks and a tranny that worked perfectly.

    It was a Sony.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Ah memories...

      Sony was only not called Sony for a short while. They decided to market transistor sets to USA in 1950s and adopted Sony name.

      I'd like their portable transistor reel to reel portable of about 1960. Spring driven wind up tape transport (an idea first on a late 1940s German battery valve reel to reel).

  9. Tommy Pock

    What's wrong with it?

    It's an Xperia. There will be something which makes it utterly unbearable. It it battery life? Does it stop and stutter? Is almost its entire memory taken up by the OS?

    It's an Xperia. What's wrong with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's wrong with it?

      It's a Sony.

      For some of the more technically literate on this site, who aren't suffering memory loss, that means that regardless of whether it is the best phone on the planet, they still won't touch it because of how Sony has behaved in the last 20 years.

      Tags: Lithium-ion batteries, rootkits, OtherOS.

      1. Tomato42

        Re: What's wrong with it?

        oh, I would take my money elsewhere, if I could, but Sony is benign compared to what Apple does and nobody else makes a good small phone, so the lesser evil it is

        1. Dave 126

          Re: What's wrong with it?

          The Z3 Compact had nothing wrong with it. In fact, Sony had some nice differentiating features, such as external charging pins for a magnetic dock, and an extra ring on the 3.5 mm headphone socket for stereo out and in simultaneously. Stock Android was mostly left alone. Great battery life.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's wrong with it?

          Sony is benign compared to what Apple does

          Such as?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What's wrong with it?

            Yeah. Tumbleweeds ...

            1. Tomato42

              Re: What's wrong with it?


              * while they don't support running custom OSes on their hardware, they don't make it next to impossible

              * turning developer mode requires 10 clicks or so

              * as such installing open source software, under open source licences (hello F-Droid) just works

              basically you get all the benefits of Android, with very few downsides of not using Google hardware'

              but sure, say "Tumbleweeds" on a not really popular topic, 2 days after it being posted when nobody jumps on a comment made by a Coward

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: What's wrong with it?

        Sony phones have been pretty good when it comes to customer-friendly features. They test the hardware well, maintain the OS, they have microSD cards, and there are 3rd party ROMs. I may forgive Sony when I throw my ZTE Axon 7 into a wood chipper for not supporting 3rd party ROMs and not getting critical bug fixes.

  10. Matt 70

    Good ol' days

    I miss my CMD-Z1, it's flip down mic and its ostrich.

  11. Wibble


    Sony PCs were full of crapware. Are their phones like that too?

  12. dajames

    Built-in obsolescence

    I have a Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. Nice phone.

    It runs Android 5 (Lollipop). I'd had it a little over a year (the phone had been out for nearly two years by then) when Android 6 (Marshmallow) was released, but the Z1 series didn't get the upgrade. The latest kernel is dated November 2015.

    OK, I understand that a manufacturer can't support old hardware for ever, but a less-than-two-years-old phone is not "old" hardware. I had expected I'd get to at least Android 6 and hoped to get to 7 before updates stopped. Bad Sony.

    When the phone was a little over two years old it developed the nasty habit of suddenly claiming that the battery had reached 0% charge, when a moment or two before it had been at around 50%. The battery is sealed in, so hard to replace -- it also turned out to be quite hard to source.

    I managed to get a battery which was said to be new (with "zero charge cycles") but may not have been. I had to heat the back of the phone to soften the glue and prise it open to put the new battery in. This, of course, wrecked the waterproofing, which had been one of my reasons for buying the Sony in the first place (I walk a lot, and sometimes it rains). Nonetheless I carried on using the phone with its old OS until the replacement battery started to display the same sudden discharge behaviour*.

    I'd love to buy another Xperia phone, but I won't do so until they make the battery officially user-replaceable, and give some commitment to supporting Android updates for at least (say) three years from the release of the phone. Oh, I'd like it to be dual-SIM, too ... is that too much to ask?

    * I suspect that the battery isn't really dropping from 50% to 0% in a couple of seconds, but that the battery monitoring circuit in the phone is uselessly optimistic until the voltage drops a little under load (because the user has, say, turned the screen on) and then it panics and turns the phone off. Maybe later Xperias have fixed this?

    1. Tomato42

      Re: Built-in obsolescence

      I have the same phone, none of the same problems with battery.

      I'd be rather weary to extrapolate a sample size of 1 of a particular model to the whole manufacturer's portfolio.

      1. dajames

        Re: Built-in obsolescence

        I have the same phone, none of the same problems with battery.

        I'd be rather weary to extrapolate a sample size of 1 of a particular model to the whole manufacturer's portfolio.

        I did find some discussion online between other users who were experiencing the same problem with the Z1 Compact, so the sample size was at least a little more than 1. There was some disagreement as to whether simply replacing the battery would fix the problem, but it worked for me.

        However, my intention was not so much to grumble about this problem with this particular phone, as to point out that it is a real pain in the proverbials not to be able to change the battery when it needs to be done.

        I do understand that waterproofing an IP68 phone isn't trivial, but other manufacturers have managed it so it's not exactly rocket science. (See the Samsung Xcover for example (link to gsmarena).)

  13. Graham Jordan

    Sony phone fan

    I had a z3 compact, then moved to a Samsung S7 Edge - which I hated. When my daughter dropped it and smashed up the glass I bought a mid range Xperia X from environfone and love it. Don't see any reason to go back to the now repaired S7.

    I'll be getting one of these babies for sure. The battery life and simple UI make for excellent phones.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a Sony

    So you get the rootkits for free, and you can expect to get sued if you dare complaining.

  15. cyberik

    Amazing how positive this review is.

    My experience with Sony phones is the build quality is total crap, they're stuffed with bloatware you cannot remove, they send your data (contacts, messages) to Sony without asking (at least Google has the decency to ask beforehand...), and with the rootkits they include in audio CD's I would be surprised if there was no malware included on these things.

  16. Alan Brown Silver badge

    planning permission...

    (They successfully fought a planning permit to extend a transmitter in the middle of Highgate Woods. Well done, everyone).

    I've always wondered why the mobile phone companies don't simply say "Take it up with these people" when there are complaints about shitty reception in an area.

    As for "godawful mobile towers" these are all in-fill poles, not much taller than a standard telegraph pole and visually almost indistinguishable other than the tiny (under 2 foot long) phased array on top. Sectorised ones are a bit larger but they're still very small.

    The older generation of such poles is summarised at - but as these newer ones are covering a much smaller area, they're also a lot smaller.

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