Sony Xperia Z1™ waterproof review

sony xperia z1 waterproof

You might have heard about this new wonder device. It’s not just a phone, but a high quality digital camera! It has everything except the kitchen sink…which leads us to the next point. Xperia™ Z1 is not just water resistant, it’s waterproof! To illustrate that point, I have submerged it in 6 inches of running water in my (you guessed it) kitchen sink.

xperia z1 waterproof

It still works perfectly and I have sent a joke text to my better half asking her where my phone is. Haha! It’s actually waterproof up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. This is achieved by flaps covering the microSIM, microUSB port, microSD card slot. In a smart move by Sony, the headphones jack in the Z1 doesn’t have a flap you need to keep closed. It’s rated at IP 55 and IP58 which means it’s not just waterproof, it’s also dust resistant!

sony xperia z1

Yup, this beautiful smartphone has been called “an almost perfect balance of form and function” by Forbes Magazine. The Xperia Z1 has it all:

20.7 MP camera with BIONZ™ for mobile

xperia z1 camera

The Xperia Z1 is powered by a large 1/2.3” 20.7 MP Exmor RS™ mobile image sensor, Sony’s award winning G Lens (the same kind you’ll find in their conventional compact digicams) and their tried-and-true BIONZ™ for mobile image processing engine.

I bought the Sony Xperia S when it first came out and one of the things I noticed is that the night mode takes a huge toll on the processor, which causes the screen to lag. This doesn’t happen anymore – the Xperia Z1 has its own dedicated processor!

The Xperia Z1 takes awesome photos, and handles the tricky light-and-dark situations well with the HDR mode. It also has four major Social Camera Applications to deliver new experiences and there’s a widget which allows you to put that right on the screen by default.

info eye

This is a “visual search” feature that provides related information on landmarks and other items such as books, wine or even groceries simply by capturing them with the camera. It’s like Google and Wikipedia combined, except you don’t type in your search string but take a photo instead!

info eye search results
Info Eye search results using bar code…

info eye search
…and the Image results! It works perfectly!

Social Live
This broadcasts the shots that you take to Facebook and the best thing about it is that you’ll get your friend’s comments right on your camera screen! This is the best in-house app I’ve had the pleasure of using and I’ll write about this in more detail soon – you need to be at an awesome event like a concert or while traveling to get the full impact of what this can do and what it means! 🙂

Timeshift Burst
My favorite feature by far – the Xperia Z1 takes 61 images in 2 seconds – a second before and after pressing the shutter – so you can scroll back and forth to find the perfect image. This is for all those times you “missed a shot” coz you took out your smartphone too late, it’ll never happen again.

AR Effect
There’s also a range of overlays that automatically detects faces and people and creates pictures using augmented reality app. I’ll dedicate a post to the camera and video features of the device – there’s just too many awesome features to describe in a general review.

ar effect

The Xperia Z1 also can shoot full 1080p HD video with stereo sound!

(and you can take a still image while the video is recording too)

5” Full HD screen

The Xperia Z1 has the latest Sony BRAVIA™ technology optimized for mobile. The beautiful and rich 5” screen uses a Full HD TRILUMINOS™ display which results in vibrant and incredible viewing experience. It’s the best screen I’ve ever seen on a smartphone!

sony xperia z1 screen

You can try it out at any Sony Center and be blown away at the crisp text and wide palate of natural colors. The Z1 also includes X-Reality™ for mobile and ClearAudio+™ for optimized video viewing. These are technologies usually found in their high range LCD TVs!

Software and performance

The Xperia Z1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2.2 Ghz quad-core CPU and 4G LTE. It’s the first consumer smartphone to come up with this latest and super fast quad-core processor. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 features a GPU and dual ISP for incredible graphics and 3D performance – you’ll notice this if you play Unreal Engine based games on Android.

xperia z1 screen

Sony has also made changes to the stock version of Android and there’s four toggles in the notifications drop down that’s set to sound, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, brightness and settings by default. Swiping to the right in the app drawer brings up a menu that allows you to sort apps and also uninstall apps – you no longer have to go to the exact page in Google Play to do that anymore.

The Xperia Z1 also has 4 shortcuts at the main phone screen to reflect Sony’s concept for this phone- WALKMAN™, Album, Movies and PlayStation® Mobile. Yup, it’s an MP3 player, camera, video recorder and gaming device all rolled into one portable smartphone!

It does all those tasks very well too – there is no lag or slowdown of any kind even with intensive widgets on the screen that pulls Facebook and other social media feeds, multiple tabs open on the default browser (Chrome) and it tackles the most graphically intense Unreal Engine games with ease.

The 3000mAh battery performs well too – I can easily use the Xperia Z1 for a full day without having to recharge. That’s largely due to the highly effective Battery STAMINA Mode which uses a lot of useful tricks to preserve battery life. It shuts off certain apps when you’re not actively using them (you can customize this so that your favorite apps will run all the time) and turns off functions you don’t need until you wake up your screen again.

Design and other features

The entire phone has a premium feel to it from the single piece of aluminium (which also acts as an antenna) surrounding the front and back tempered sheet glass. The Sony Xperia Z1 is a long rectangle shape with an impressive build quality.

xperia z1

The On/Off button is now located on the right hand side in the middle instead of top right. All the buttons are placed right and the headphone jack is the lone item on the top which is perfectly situated to prevent snagging or accidental pressing of buttons while listening to an audio book in MP3 (which is what I do more than listen to music).

The speakers produces surprisingly well-defined sound too.

The Xperia Z1 weighs 170 grams which might seem a tad on the heavy side for people not used to it but I’m loving mine – it’s a high quality digital camera, gaming device, and smartphone in a sleek package that gets double takes. It not only looks good, it feels good too – and the fact that it’s also waterproof and shock and dust resistant is just icing on the cake.

xperia z1 unboxing

The Sony Xperia Z1 retails for RM 2,399 and if you purchase it now, you’ll get three months of free unlimited music streaming from Akazoo, a preloaded social media music app. This is valid from October till December 2013. You can also download six (6) movies (offer valid till 31st December) via Xperia Privilege app, which is also preloaded into the device.

There’s a lot more to talk about but this is already way over 1,000 words so I’ll write more on the awesome 20.7 MP digital camera, 1080p Full HD video recording, nifty apps like Social Live and other apps. I’ll also do a special on underwater photography and my annual Chinese New Year fireworks and firecrackers roundup. I also have the SmartWatch 2, which is a NFC/Bluetooth watch that can sync via NFC to get Facebook updates and allows you to control your phone remotely from your wrist.


I love my new toy(s)! 😀

Check out the Sony Xperia Z1 experience!

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25 thoughts on “Sony Xperia Z1™ waterproof review”

    • Haha! Yeah, I have even gotten into the habit of *washing* my Xperia Z1 when it’s dirty nowadays. 🙂

      It’s totally waterproof so there’s nothing to worry about. I love it! I’m just worried I might accidentally wash my other gadgets e.g. dSLR which is definitely not waterproof.

    • Thanks Charmaine! 🙂

      I really love it too! I’ve been using it ever since I got it, there’s always something amazing and new I find out everyday. I love how fast games run on it too – playing CSR Racing and Dead Trigger 2 now and they both run *super fast* compared with my previous phone. It doesn’t need any load time at all, I get pleasantly surprised each time I click on it. Haha!

  1. it’s really fun to be able to submerge your phone like that … i get worried even if it rains on my iphone, haha. i’m kinda a phone idiot, and i’m scared to switch to something non-iphone, cos i think i would take ages to figure out how everything works. but yeah, reading this makes me want a sony xperia too! 😀

    • Yeah, you’ll never worry about water again! 🙂

      It’s not just water resistant but actually waterproof up to 1.5 meters! I can even wash my Xperia Z1!

      The new Android phones like Xperia Z1 running 4.2.2 (4.3 coming soon as well as the awesome 4.4 KitKat, you can upgrade as it goes along) and part of the reason why it isn’t as fast is that Sony has a lot of *custom* widgets that are awesomely user friendly, which they need to make sure is compatible and I think that’s great!

      I’ve always loved Sony’s smartphones, my previous one was a Sony Xperia S. You can easily switch from an iOS phone, you won’t have any trouble figuring it out.

      The Xperia Z1 with its custom apps is really easy to use!

    • Haha! You made me laugh out loud with that comment! 🙂

      Yeah, I have that fear too coz I use my smartphone in the toilet too. However, if I drop my Xperia Z1 into the bowl, I can just scoop it up and wash it and it’ll be as good as new!

    • Haha! Yup, just fish it out and wash it! 🙂

      It’ll be as good as new!

      I wash my phone frequently now too, instead of wiping it, after I take cooking photos (from the greasy fingers etc).

    • Yeah, I’m particularly proud of that photo too! 🙂

      I actually blocked the sink with Tupperware and some heavy bowls and let it flood up to 6 inches to take that picture.

      I could even press the buttons underneath the water. I wanted to show the force of the tap going down and how the Xperia Z1 can withstand that.

      I frequently wash my phone now, no joke, it’s so convenient compared to having to carefully wipe it with a wet tissue!

      Thanks Mel!

    • Yeah, it’s perfect for that! 🙂

      I even have the habit of washing my phone instead of using wet tissues to carefully wipe it. It’s so much more convenient!

  2. Waterproof phone? Now that’s something I would definitely consider. Hahaha…with my son around, i always gets my phone wet. 😛 You know, the kid have tendency to play Angry Bird and stuff while his hands still wet etc etc etc.

    • It’ll be perfect for you then Eli! 🙂

      That’s the best way to prevent water damage – get a waterproof phone! I love my Xperia Z1, it’s not only waterproof and dust resistant, it’s very, very fast too.

      It’s the first phone to come out with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.2 Ghz quad-core CPU. You won’t even get load times with Angry Birds, it’ll start up right away!

      It takes a while to get used to, I play Dead Trigger 2 and it also loads immediately while I used to have to wait a while – that’s a 3D shooter running on Unity engine.

  3. It sure looks similar to my classmate’s cell phone… wonder if it’s the same model. =)

    From what I can see, Z1 definitely has more functions and capabilities than the modest ST27i. Even though mine has a similar waterproof function, I’m still worried about suddenly dropping it into the toilet bowl (like Vincent) or accidentally spilling my Iced Blended or Swedish Berry on it.

    Might consider buying the Z1 now. ^_^

    • It just came out so if your classmate recently got a new Sony Xperia phone, it’s probably this one! 🙂

      Yeah, you don’t ever have to worry about spills or water damage again wit the Xperia Z1 coz it’s actually waterproof up to 1.5 meters.

      I just got out of the swimming pool (am in Penang right now) with it in my board shorts. No problems at all.

      It’s a good buy if you’re in the market for a new smartphone, the Z1 is powerful and water/dust proof! I love mine!

    • Yeah, it’s an awesome phone eh? 🙂

      I love my Xperia Z1 so much, I play with it everyday and find out about new things and wonderful apps that can run on it’s ultra fast processor!

  4. What things can you do with your phone while it’s underwater? Can you text or it’s not designed to work when submerged in water?

  5. So, yesterday my phone had my headphones in it and like any other time listening to my music after leaving the daycare, i tucked it into my pocket.. it fell into the toilet and i immediately wiped it off, the music was still working…put it into a bag of rice, but now.. i am praying it still works! I have it on a charger now… so I am crossing my fingers…


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