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Wednesday / August 5.
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Sony Xperia XZ Premium

It feels like Sony has been away for a while. That said, the product of the year on this site was a Sony, a remarkable television. However, earlier this year they promised us a new flagship phone. Now available in Ireland, the Xperia XZ Premium is trying to secure its place amongst the big name premium smartphones.

Available in two colours, Luminous Chrome and the more discreet Deepsea Black, it has a good specification with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory. The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor that offers speedy performance and has plenty of power to run Android 7.1 Nougat and future versions.Apart from the phone, in the box there’s the expected bits and pieces including a fast charger, a USB cable, Sony headphones and start-up guide.

The Xperia is a big phone and an unusual shape as it looks almost elongated. It’s just over six inches long but only three inches across and it feels slim and sleek in the hand. It’s also light at only 191 g and is almost unnoticeable in a jacket pocket.

Once I’d turned it on, the set-up is straightforward. These days, synchronising most Android phones is just as easy as an iPhone. I used my existing Google account to synchronise my email and phone contacts straight on to the Sony from my old Android phone. I set a PIN code, but Sony have placed a small fingerprint reader on the side of the phone. This instantly unlocks the phone and is worth setting up to ensure convenient access. It’s a clever feature and I set up a couple of different fingers meaning it recognises me whichever way I pick the phone up.

The Xperia XZ is also IP68 rated, which means it’s dust and water resistant and it can survive unintentional dips and is protected up to depths of a meter in fresh water.

The only fiddly process during set-up was inserting my SIM card. The small SIM tray is a little fiddly but it’s job you only have to do once. The same tray also provided access to the memory expansion slot for Micro SD cards and you can add a card up 256GB to store movies, photos or files.

The Xperia screen is a big bold 5.5 inch 4K HDR display with tough Gorilla Glass. It uses a technology called Triluminous Display. Sony developed this technology from experience with their Brava TVs and this tech is what enhances colour and clarity on a mobile screen.  The display really is the stand out feature. The resolution is superb and the TV pedigree of Sony is obvious when you watch a downloaded film or 4K content from Netflix or YouTube.

Battery life is good and despite the slimness of the phone it packs a battery that will easily last a day and I found myself having more than twenty percent battery left at bedtime. The phone supports QuickCharge 3.0 which charges the phone four times faster than standard, so it’s easy to top up with a ten minute charge before leaving home. However, for long journeys or holiday flights there is also a stamina mode which stretches battery life to the last.

The XZ Premium has an impressive camera. It’s a 19 megapixel camera and it has HDR, image stabilisation and face detection. There’s a wonderful slow-motion feature that’s more impressive than competing phones from Apple or Samsung. The definition of the super slow motion recordings is stunning and it was the camera feature I had the most fun with.

It’s laser focus is impressive and subjects come in to focus almost instantly. It makes filming moving objects easy and lets you capture great footage on days out. Sony have included a dedicated camera button and it works like a digital camera button, letting you focus and then snap the picture.

The phone picks up fingerprints enthusiastically and I found myself wiping it down daily. As well as that, the SIM tray is fiddly but a once-off process. The few downsides are forgivable though. The premium smartphone market is competitive but if you shoot lots of video or watch movies and TV on the go, it’s hard to top this Sony flagship.

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Andy O'Donoghue talks about technology, some say, too much.

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