Sony Xperia XZ Premium review: smart slow motion video is not enough

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Rating: 7/10 | Price: £ 649


WIRED

Bold look, smarter camera than last year, slow motion video capturing can be fun

TIREDNESS

Photo quality, the 4K screen is a limited advantage in the real world, bulkier than its Android rivals, unique features dwindle quite quickly

Phones no longer demand more power or sharper screens. A Samsung Galaxy S8 + has more than twice as many display pixels as an iPhone 7 Plus, but that’s not really one of the top three reasons to choose a Samsung over an Apple.

High-end phones are now using impressive tech balls to convince potential buyers that a £ 45 monthly contract is still a wise plan.

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium has a few of these attached to a phone that is otherwise eerily similar to the older Xperia Z5 Premium, which is now over 18 months old. Its duo of “special shots” not found elsewhere is slow-motion video shooting and a 4K display, first attempted in the Z5 Premium, but now with HDR.

If these don’t appeal, its chances of outperforming something like the Galaxy S8 + are slim.

Slow motion video

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium’s slow-motion capture is courtesy of Sony’s new IMX400 camera sensor. As in previous years, Sony’s best phones get the latest chips from Sony Digital Imaging before others.

This is a large 1 / 2.3-inch sensor, the same size as that of a standard compact camera. In keeping with the current trend, the resolution has actually gone down since Sony’s last flagship, to 19 megapixels instead of 23.

Its three-layer CMOS structure may be of interest to the electrical engineer, but for the rest of us, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium’s slow-motion video capture is the highlight. The Samsung Galaxy S8 can shoot slow motion video at 240 fps, but it will look positively fast next to Sony’s 960 fps mode.

This slows down the real-world action to 1/40 of its real speed, simmering the fast and chaotic until an ice ballet. Real-time eighth-of-a-second capture takes up almost 10MB of storage.

To save CPU, internal storage, and the patience of everyone you’re logged into on social media, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium doesn’t just let you freely shoot 960fps footage like the compact camera. Sony RX100 V. Instead, there are two rapid fire shooting modes.

One captures standalone 5-second clips (a fraction of a second of “real life”), the other inserts 5-second slow-motion footage into normal speed footage. You press the shutter button to capture them while shooting.


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