Sony Brings Super Slow-Motion Camera to Xperia XZ1

Sony wants to make super slow motion happen. After introducing the ability to capture video at 960 frames per second with its Xperia XZ Premium smartphone earlier this year, Sony is now introducing the feature to two more models set to ship in the next two months.

While expanded camera capabilities may highlight the $699 Xperia XZ1 and $599 Xperia XZ1 Compact, that's not the only noteworthy thing about the new phones. They're also slated to ship with Android Oreo, which would make them among the first phones to offer Google's updated mobile operating system.

Here's a closer look at what to expect from the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, which are set to ship on Sept. 19 and Oct. 4, respectively.

All About the Camera

Like the Xperia XZ Premium, both the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact can capture Super Slow Motion thanks to Sony's Motion Eye camera system. A 1GB memory-stacked camera sensor inside the phones processes images faster than conventional smartphones, allowing Sony's devices to record 960-fps video.

We found that the super slo-mo feature worked as advertised when we reviewed the Xperia XZ Premium, but it felt more like a novelty than a must-have tool. We also didn't care for the slightly convoluted way you launch the feature.

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Super slow-mo isn't the only camera trick Sony's new phones can perform. Both the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact offer Autofocus burst, a rapid-fire bust feature that relies on predictive autofocus to capture continuous motion at 10 fps.

A 3D Creator feature allows the cameras on either phone to make 3D scans of options. 3D Creator offers face, food, head and freeform scanning modes, and you can use the finished scans in messaging apps or send them to 3D printers. It sounds as if Sony's counting on third-party support to make the 3D scans even more useful, and the company is promising to point users toward 3D friendly apps in Google Play.

The Xperia XZ1 features a 19-megapixel rear camera along with a 13-MP front shooter. The Compact offers the same 19-MP rear camera sensor while relying on a 8-MP selfie cam. That front camera on the Compact includes a wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view, so you can squeeze more background — or more people — into your selfies.

Xperia XZ1 Specs

At 5.8 x 2.9 x 0.29 inches, the Xperia XZ1 is noticeably smaller than the 6.1 x 3 x 0.3-inch XZ Premium. Sony has also swapped out that latter phone's 5.5-inch 4K HDR display for a 5.2-inch 1080p screen on the XZ1. While the 4K screen was one of the XZ Premium's best features, the XZ1 at least offers support for HDR content, which means better colors, at least for streaming the movies and shows available in HDR.

Sony is also touting the audio in the Xperia XZ1, noting the phone's dual front-facing speakers and support for S-Front Surround Sound. The result should be richer audio, even compared to other Xperia models.

In an age where other phone makers are trotting out new designs that do away with bezels on the top and bottom of the phone's display, the Xperia XZ1 sports that old, familiar Sony smartphone look. At least, the phone will be able to endure life's bumps and bruises. Sony uses Gorilla Glass 5 on the XZ1's display, and the phone — available in black, blue, silver and pink — resists water and dust.

Inside the XZ1, you'll find the same Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM that lands the XZ Premium among the top performing Android phones. We're less encouraged about the XZ1's battery, a 2,700 mAh power pack. To put that in context, the XZ Premium features a 3,230 mAh, and it was only an average performer on our battery test.

Xperia XZ1 Compact Specs

Like it says on the label, the XZ1 Compact is a shrunken down version of the XZ1, if a little bit thicker. Its 5.07 x 2.5 x 0.37-inch frame hosts a 4.6-inch HD screen.

Otherwise, the specs on the XZ1 Compact match the larger XZ1, from the Snapdragon 835 processor to the water- and dust resistance to the 2,700 mAh battery. Basically, this is a phone for people who want the capabilities of Sony's Motion Eye camera technology but in a smaller package.

A Mid-Range Phone, Too

The Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact aren't the only phones coming from Sony this fall. In October, look for the Xperia XA1 Plus, a $379 mid-range phone that will be available via Amazon. The 5.5-inch phone features a full HD display, a 23-megapixel rear camera and an 8-MP selfie cam. A MediaTek Helio P20 with 3GB of RAM powers the XA1 Plus, and you'll get 32GB of storage that you can augment with a microSD card.

Sony is touting all-day battery life for the XA1 Plus, thanks to a 3,340 mAh battery. That's aided by something Sony's Stamina Mode, which is a power management feature that extends how long your phone can last on a charge.

Image Credits: Sony

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.