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IFA 2016: Sony launches flagship Xperia XZ, adds smaller X Compact

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We saw this coming last month, and now it’s a reality: Sony has unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the 5.2-inch Xperia XZ. Along with it comes the 4.6-inch Xperia X Compact, which, you could say, is the spiritual successor to the Z Compact series.

Sony Xperia XZ

It seems kind of odd to add a “Z” to the moniker – considering that Sony ditched the Z series last year in favor of its refreshed X lineup – but the company explained that the Xperia XZ departs from the established design language of the X series to form something different. The brand of aluminum employed on the new flagship is called ALKALEIDO, which admittedly felt really light and nice to touch during our time with the phone.

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In some of the photos, you’ll see a metal frame that adds to the curvature of the handset’s ends. We noticed it being very prone to smudges, but the rest of the body seemed to be resistant to blemishes. The best news is that the IP68-certified water and dust resistance is still here, and several of the traits we’ve grown accustomed to, such as the stereo speakers, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and expandable storage via microSD, are all back.

The real star, however, is the newly developed 23-megapixel camera that’s backed by an autofocus system consisting of phase detection, an IR sensor, and laser assist capable of accurately measuring subject distance. An unusual omission is optical image stabilization, although Sony’s software algorithms should be able to stabilize shots just like on past Xperia flagships. The front camera has an equally impressive 13-megapixel sensor for your selfies.

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For the spec sheet enthusiasts, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a high-end Snapdragon 820 processor inside, together with 3GB of RAM and, thankfully, a USB Type-C port. You might be disappointed about the rather small 2,900mAh battery, but there’s Quick Charge 3.0 to make up for it and a decent 1080p resolution to lower the power drain.

There are three colors to choose from – Forest Blue, Mineral Black, and Platinum – and retail units will supposedly be available by October if things work out.

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Sony Xperia X Compact

Admittedly, most of us were more excited to hear about the Xperia X Compact, since the older Z5 Compact was the closest Android competition to the 4.7-inch Apple iPhone 6s. Unfortunately, the modest label applies to the internal parts, as well.

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The new compact series is no longer flagship level; the X Compact settles for a midrange Snapdragon 650 processor and a plastic build that isn’t even water resistant. The 720p display resolution and comparatively thick 9.5mm frame were expected, but don’t help in sweetening the deal. On the bright side, the X Compact adopts the same 23-megapixel main camera and advanced autofocus mechanism of its bigger siblings, minus the 4K video recording. Everything else is pleasant, from the USB Type-C port with Quick Charge 2.0 technology, to the acceptance of microSD cards as extra storage.

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Both handsets come with Android 6.0 Marshmallow on board, and not 7.0 Nougat. We’re perfectly fine with it, though, since Sony has always respected the purity of Android and even adds welcome touches to the interface. In this implementation, you can access Google Now by swiping to the left of the home screen, the drop-down settings and notifications are just like stock Android, and the drawer for all your apps is transparent.

The Xperia X Compact is expected to ship this month in White, Universe Black, and Mist Blue. Pricing for both smartphones hasn’t been revealed by Sony yet.

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First Look

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