With Sony Xperia Z, the Japanese company showed all gadget fans that it's more than capable of creating an Android flagship smartphone that can set the bar in terms of design, performance, and imaging capabilities.

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Sony Xperia Z1, formally announced yesterday at IFA 2013 in Berlin, builds upon the success of its predecessor by bringing all the strengths of the former flagship to a whole new level.

"Xperia Z1 represents a significant milestone for Sony in our continued efforts to deliver unforgettable experiences to our consumers," said Kunimasa Suzuki, President and CEO of Sony Mobile Communications. "Not only by bringing the power of Sony to the smartphone and through close collaboration with our partners but by setting a new standard in premium smartphones."

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Sporting the same svelte monoblock OmniBalance design language (albeit with more lush metallic accents) and water-and-dust-proof build of Sony Xperia Z, Z1 features 5-inch Full HD Triluminos display (delivering a wider gamut of colors versus the plain TFT display of the previous flagship) and comes with a far improved camera module highlighted by Sony's award-winning G Lens with a 27mm wide angle and bright F2.0 aperture, custom made large 1/2.3-type CMOS image sensor Exmor RS for mobile with 20.7 MegaPixels and BIONZ mobile image processing engine.

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According to Sony, the combination of these technologies delivers the same level of quality and performance as a conventional compact digital camera in a slim, waterproof smartphone.

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Sony Xperia Z1 takes the conventional mobile camera experience to an even higher level by including an innovative set of Xperia Camera Applications that deliver new experiences.

Social Live allows users to broadcast precious moments live from Xperia Z1 to Facebook and get their friends' comments right on the screen.

Info-Eye is an innovative visual search function that provides related information on landmarks and on items such as books or wine simply by capturing them with the camera.

Timeshift Burst, on the other hand, captures the perfect shot every time as Xperia Z1 takes 61 images in 2 seconds – a second before and after pressing the shutter – so you can scroll back and forth to find the perfect image.

Finally, AR Effect Overlay is a selection of fun, customizable animations to create pictures using Sony's SmartARTM augmented reality technology.

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Apart from the phone's imaging capabilities, Sony also implemented big improvements on the Z1's innards. The new flagship runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean (with planned 4.3 update) operating system skinned by the company's very own, gorgeous Xperia (formerly Timescape) user interface with a Quad-core 2.2 GHz Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU integrated into Qualcomm's MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 chipset and handles multitasking with 2 GB of RAM. Having such powerhouse specifications allows the handset to deliver a very smooth and enjoyable touch and gaming experience as reflected by Sony Xperia Z1's very high Antutu Benchmark Test Score of 27,920, which tech vlogger George Buhnici got during his review of the handset.

sony xperia z1, sony xperia z1 price, sony xperia z1 specs, sony xperia z1 antutu
In this comparison table, it is clear that Sony Xperia Z1 got a higher Antutu Benchmark Score than Samsung Galaxy S4, the Korean giant's current flagship release.

Just like previous releases by Sony, Z1 also has a number of accessories made for it that you can purchase separately. Most notable of which are the Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10 lens-style cameras that connects to the Sony Xperia Z1 and other smartphones via WiFi – transforming your mobile phone into a power-packed camera.

sony xperia x1 lens

Quoting Sony, "Weighing just 105g (with battery and Memory Stick Micro), the Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 partners an 18.2 effective megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor with a high-quality Sony G Lens. Boasting a powerful 10x optical zoom range, it’s great for power-packed close-ups of people, fun-filled events and distant landmarks that are just not possible without a dedicated zoom lens. Built-in Optical SteadyShot combats camera shake, keeping handheld pictures and videos steady and blur-free, even in low-light conditions.

The Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 features a large 1.0-type Exmor R CMOS sensor with 20.2 effective megapixels. You’ll really see the difference with sumptuous, ultra-low noise images – even indoors or at dusk when many cameras and camera phones struggle. It’s simple to frame shots and tweak camera settings like aperture control and exposure compensation and photo/video record mode on your smartphone’s big touchscreen. And there’s far more creative control than you’d ever get with your phone’s regular camera, enabling the user to capture beautifully background defocussed shots. Everything’s easily accessible, with extra dedicated keys for fingertip control of zoom and shutter release on the camera body. It’s teamed with a wide-aperture Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 3.6x optical zoom with Optical SteadyShot, giving all the picture quality you’d expect from a premium pocket camera."

Both of these lenses will hit store shelves by the end of September. I think they're cool and all but my only issue with them is that they come with rather hefty price tags. DSC-QX100, for instance, will sell for a whopping $500 or around Php 22,250.

Another, more affordable accessory that you can get is the Sony Smartwatch 2. The follow-up to last year's rather successful Smartwatch (which sold for only around Php 6,000 in the Philippines) SmartWatch 2 - according to Sony - expands your Android experience and introduces new and exciting ways to live and communicate. It interacts with your smartphone over Bluetooth and what’s happening in your life is mirrored in your watch. Choose from hundreds of SmartWatch 2 apps available at Google Play and be among the first to adapt a SmartWatch lifestyle.

sony smartwatch2

So when will Sony Xperia Z1 be available in the Philippines and how much will it cost? Z1 will actually hit store shelves in key markets around the world before September ends. However, our country usually gets fresh releases from the Japanese company a bit later than other territories (which is sad) so I'm guessing that the flagship device should land here by October or even later. As for its price tag, the TP Guesstimate is Php 32,490 or roughly the same as the SRP of Sony Xperia Z in the Philippines upon release earlier this year. TP Friends, note that Z1 is also LTE-capable so I think there's a chance that both Smart and Globe Telecom would consider bundling it with their LTE Plans.

TP Thoughts: Before Sony let go of Ericsson, their handset business was often saddled with outdated technical specifications and late releases. (Not saying Ericsson wss to be blamed. I said that just to make the timeline easier to grasp.) I'm happy to see that Sony is finally on the right track and is clearly aiming for leadership in the Android smartphone game by integrating their key strengths across their many product categories - including BRAVIA and CyberShot - into the Xperia line.

But apart from the sleek design, the Triluminos Display (which we first saw in Boracay; Remember that, TP Friends?) and the great imaging capabilities of Sony Xperia Z1, what I love about this current flagship is that it now has a super large 3,000 mAh battery pack, the biggest on any full-fledged smartphone (not including Sony Xperia Z Ultra) that Sony has released so far, delivering up to 880 Hours of Standby, 110 hours of Music Play, 15 Hours of Talk Time. I've always loved the Xperia line but the main complain or gripe that I and so many users have about these phones is that they have terribly short uptime. For me, the fact that Sony greatly beefed up the size of Z1's battery pack shows that they are finally listening carefully to mobile consumers and if they continue doing that, I'm sure that the future of the legendary Japanese giant's handset business will be very bright.

TechPinas Smartphone Technical Specs Table (TSTST)
Name Sony Xperia Z1
Type Slate Form Factor (Full Touchscreen)
Price Category High End (Flagship Level)
Dimensions144 x 74 x 8.5 mm
Weight 170 grams
Available Colors White, Purple, Black
Operating System Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with planned 4.3 update
Display 5.0 inches (~441 ppi pixel density), 1080 x 1920 pixels, Triluminos, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, X-Reality for mobile – Sony’s intelligent super resolution technology which analyzes each image and optimizes the quality to deliver super sharp videos, Shatter-proof and scratch-resistant glass
Processor Quad-core 2.2 GHz Krait 400 CPU, Adreno 330 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 chipset
RAM 2 GB RAM
Internal Storage 16 GB, expandable via microSD card slot, supports up to 64GB
Camera 20.7 MegaPixels, autofocus, LED flash, BSI Sensor, 1/2.3'' sensor size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, image stabilization, HDR, panorama, Front: 2 MegaPixels, BSI Sensor
Video Capture Full HD 1080p 30 frames per second for main camera, video stabilization, Full HD 1080p for front camera (to be confirmed)
Audio and Video Playback MP4, H.263, H.264, MP3, eAAC+, WAV, Flac player
Ports microUSB v2.0, TV-out (via MHL A/V link), 3.5 mm audio jack
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, ANT+, EDR, 3G HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps; LTE, Cat4, 50 Mbps UL, 150 Mbps DL
GPS Yes, with GLONASS and A-GPS
Sensors Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity, Gyroscope
Network 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, 3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100, 4G Network LTE800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 / 2600
SIM Card Type microSIM
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery
Uptime Up to 880 Hours of Standby, 110 hours of Music Play, 15 Hours of Talk Time
Value-Added Features Triluminos Display, Big Battery, Sony’s ClearAudio+ which automatically optimizes the audio experience without the need to adjust individual settings, X-Reality for mobile, Top-notch Imaging Capabilities, Water-Resistant
Announcement September 4, 2013 at IFA 2013 in Berlin
Availability TP Guesstimate: Q4 2013
Price TP Guesstimate: Php 32,490