The Xperia Z1 features a 20.7MP camera on a 1/2.3 sensor and succeeds the Xperia Z as Sony's flasghsip smartphone.

With the launch of the Xperia Z1 smartphone Sony is the first large manufacturer to throw its hat in the ring at this year's IFA trade show in Berlin. The Android 4.2 device, which had been heavily rumored under the code name "Honami," follows the Xperia Z, which itself was only launched at CES in January, as Sony's top-end smartphone.

The big news on the Z1 is the 1/2.3 imaging sensor that is larger than those used on most smartphones.  The comparatively large sensor and the high pixel count of 20.7MP in combination with the addition of a physical shutter button demonstrate that, like Nokia with its latest Lumia models and HTC with the One, Sony is another manufacturer that has identified camera performance as a key differentiator in the smartphone market. 

We had a chance to have a closer look at the new model at IFA; read on for our first impressions.

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 20.7 MP 1/2.3 Exmor RS CMOS sensor
  • F2.0 lens
  • 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 (IP55/58)
  • 16 GB internal memory
  • microSD up to 64GB
  • 3,000 mAh battery, non-removable
  • Available in black, white and purple

Body & Design

With its angular design the Xperia Z1 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor but the one-piece aluminum frame that is visible around the edges makes the Z1 feel even more like a premium product. At 169g the Sony is not heavy but feels very solid, and a little more chunky than some of the competition. Both front and back of the device are covered in scratch-resistant glass. This gives the device a luxury touch but unfortunately also makes the back very prone to fingerprint smearing. 

The Z1 sports the same angular design as the original Xperia Z ...
... and its glass-covered back unfortunately attracts fingerprints in the same way.

Like its predecessor, the Xperia Z1 is also dust- and waterproof to 1m depth (certified to IP55/58). The Z1 is not built for use in a war zone or even a building site, but it should survive a drop in the toilet or use on a dusty beach. The new model's focus on mobile photographers is emphasized by the addition of a dedicated shutter button. Slots for a MicroSim or microSD card are hidden under rubber flaps.

Power button and volume rocker can both be found on the right edge of the device.
Mobile photographers will appreciate the inclusion of a dedicated shutter button.