The Xperiz Z1 is Sony's latest flagship smartphone

Sony is making the first move among the big manufacturers at IFA today. The new and innovative QX10 and QX100 smartphone "clip-on lenses" are getting a lot of the attention, but during a busy press conference Sony has also launched a more conventional smartphone, the Xperia Z1 which previously had been floating round the Internet rumor mill under the code name "Honami."

The Z1 follows the original Xperia Z which itself was only launched in January as Sony's flagship smartphone. As it is the norm with the Snapdragon 800 2.2 GHz quad-core unit, the new model features a more powerful processor but overall the Xperia Z1 is more evolution than revolution. It still features the Z's angular design and waterproof body (IP58 certified) but now comes with a sleek two-tone metal color scheme and a beautifully made one-piece aluminum frame.

The Sony press conference at Berlin's IFA exhibition was very busy today.
But standing in the line is worth it if you're one of the first to get your hands on the Xperia Z1.

The most exciting news, especially from an imaging point of view, is the camera though. In our review we weren't too impressed with the image quality of the Xperia Z's 13MP shooter, so it'll be interesting to see how the new model's 20.7 MP equivalent will perform in our tests. Is the increased pixel-count actually going to result in more image detail or just bloated file sizes? We'll only be able to tell once we hold a production unit in our hands, but the good news is that the Sony's 20.7MP are not crammed onto a tiny 1/3 sensor as commonly used in smartphones. Instead Sony's used a slightly larger 1/2.3 backside-illuminated CMOS sensor.

That is the same size sensor that you would find in most consumer level compact cameras. 20 million pixels still sounds like a lot for this type of sensor but we'll have to wait and see how the Sony Bionz Mobile imaging processor can cope with the image information and the high pixel-count should facilitate 3x digital zooming without a loss of quality.

Combined with some new Sony-specific imaging apps such as Info-Eye and Timeshift Burst  the Z1's hardware should make for an interesting camera phone that we hope to get in our hands for a full review soon.

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 20.7 MP 1/2.3 Exmor RS CMOS sensor
  • 1080p/30 fps video
  • HDR video

Other Specifications

  • Snapdragon 800 quad-core 2.2GHz processor
  • 5-inch 1080p Sony TRILUMINOS display (441ppi)
  • Android 4.2
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Waterproof body (IP58)
  • 16 GB internal memory
  • microSD up to 64GB
  • 3,000 mAh battery, non-removable
  • Available in black, white and purple