Mobile World Congress

For the multimedia junkie

Sony has made the screen on the Xperia XZ Premium one of the major upgrades to its flagship phone.
Sony has made the screen on the Xperia XZ Premium one of the major upgrades to its flagship phone.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Sony released a bumper crop of four phones at this year's MWC, with two variants each of their high-end Xperia XZ series and top mid-range Xperia XA series.

They retain the iconic Sony smartphone look of glass and metal, with a curved-looped design which moulds into the hand.

In fact, they could be nearly indistinguishable from last year's Sony flagships. But turn on the screen of the latest Xperia XZ Premium and the difference is immediately clear.

The Japanese company decided to make the phone screen on the Premium one of the two major upgrades to its flagship phone, the other being an upgraded camera sensor the company is calling a "memory stacked image sensor".

Looking at the XZ Premium's screen is like looking into a mini-Sony Bravia TV, as the Premium sports a 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) screen like the one on the telly.

Combining both 4K and HDR on one phone display might seem like a bit of an overkill, given the phone's 5.5-inch screen. But, even at that size, the difference the HDR adds is immense: colours pop from the screen, while details like street cobblestones are fine and sharp.

Another huge upgrade is the inclusion of Sony's latest memory-stack camera sensor in its phones, which allows slow-motion video capture of up to 960 frames per seconds and "predictive capture" function that can catch pictures even before you hit the capture button.

I was able to take slow-motion videos anytime I wanted by tapping a button while recording a video.

Overkill? Perhaps. Gimmicky? Maybe, but Sony has faith that its users will find creative uses for it.

Slowing down things like cute puppies or someone falling over can lead to hilarious, viral online videos, which can now be all the more dramatic and funnier by slowing them even further.

Battery life could be something to worry about - it takes more juice to power such a bright, vibrant screen, and the Premium's 3,230mAh battery might be just sufficient to get it through a whole day of use.

Sony's Smart Stamina technology makes a return on the phone, though, which is a feature that has traditionally been reliable in ensuring that battery life is stretched to its maximum.

The Xperia XZs is a smaller variant of the Premium, but loses the 4K HDR screen for a more traditional full-HD display.

Sony's strategy has always been to offer a smaller version of its flagship, and the XZs is no different, sacrificing the premium display for a more compact phone.

The mid-range variants announced this year, the XA1 and XA1 Ultra, make a good alternative to these flagships, featuring the same premium design but with slightly lower specs.

The Ultra is the biggest phone in Sony's line-up to date, being a 6-inch phablet.

While it has the same bezel-less design on the sides, it does look and feel very chunky given that the bezels on the top and bottom are very noticeable.

Sony has yet to announce prices or launch dates for all four phones, but is expected to start launching the new models in the second quarter of the year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'For the multimedia junkie'. Print Edition | Subscribe