Continuing Sony’s baffling strategy of producing new smartphones every six months, Sony has launched the Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact. While technically positioned under the Xperia XZ Premium, both phones feature high-end specs including the same Snapdragon 835 SoC, staid design, and unique—if questionably useful—imaging features. Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t budged much on price: the Xperia XZ1 costs $700, just $100 less than the XZ Premium. Both phones launch in September.
For that money you get a 5.2-inch 1080p screen with support for HDR content covered in Gorilla Glass 5, IP68 water and dust-resistance, and Android 8.0 Oreo. The smaller XZ1 Compact features a non-HDR 4.6-inch 720p screen and swaps out the metal body for glass fibre reinforced with plastic. The Xperia XZ1 comes in four colours: Moonlit Blue, Venus Pink, Warm Silver, and Black. The XZ1 Compact comes in Black, White Silver, Horizon Blue, and Twilight Pink.
What sets the Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact apart from every other 2017 Android smartphone is Sony’s imaging solution, which the company claims is five times faster at processing images than rival smartphones. This is thanks to a 1GB memory-stacked camera module that allows for more photos to be placed into the buffer before being copied to main memory. The 19MP “Motion Eye” sensor features the same 960fps video-recording ability as the XZ Premium, and it can also produce 3D scans.
An on-board app, dubbed 3D Creator, allows for 3D scanning without the help of a cloud. There are four scan modes—head scan, face scan, food scan, and freeform scan—which produce a 3D image that can be shared online or sent to a 3D printer. Without having used the tech firsthand, it’s hard to say how well it works, but I’m doubtful that it’s the mass-market feature Sony needs to shift more smartphones.
On the front of the Xperia XZ1 is a 13MP selfie camera, while the Xperia XZ1 features an 8MP camera. Noticeably absent is any sort of fingerprint scanner on the US version, although there is one in the UK version. There is, however, a headphone jack, along with support for Hi-res audio with upscaling for low-bitrate tracks. Charging is handled by a single USB Type-C port.
Neither the Xperia XZ1 nor Xperia XZ1 Compact is compelling enough to dig Sony’s mobile division out of its financial black hole, but they’re decent enough phones. If you’re interested, preorders open on August 31. UK folks that preorder the XZ1 from Carphone Warehouse get a free pair of H.ear On 2 Wireless NC headphones worth £250.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK