Miss the Microsoft Lumia 950? Try the Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Dave W. Shanahan

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When I switched from my Microsoft Lumia 950 to the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, I was not exactly happy with the change. I missed everything about Windows 10 Mobile, but I resigned myself that Microsoft gave up on mobile, so it was time to move on. Change is hard, but it is inevitable and sometimes good.

After using the S8 Plus for a few months, I found that I took a lot of the functions of the Lumia 950 for granted. Namely, the Lumia 950’s dedicated camera button. Sure, you can take great camera shots with the S8 Plus, but I miss the point-and-shoot convenience of the Lumia 950.

The S8 Plus does have the Bixby button, but I seldom use it. To access the camera on the S8 Plus, I double-press the power button to take a picture. However, I missed the convenience of taking a picture with the Lumia 950 with its dedicated camera button.

Now that Windows 10 Mobile is a thing of the past, I figured I would try to find an Android phone that can best replicate the capabilities of the Microsoft Lumia 950. In comes the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. It mirrors much of the same specs as the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, but there are a few of things that separates it from other so-called flagships.

Microsoft, Sony, Lumia, Xperia

Here’s a look at the Sony Xperia XZ Premium specs:

  • 5.5 inch 4K HDR Display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64 GB on-board storage (microSD support up to 256 GB)
  • 3230mAh battery
  • 19 MP rear-facing camera, 13 MP front-facing camera
  • Fingerprint sensor (disabled on US version)
  • Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back

The Xperia XZ Premium also has a dedicated camera button, 3.5mm headphone jack, and came shipped with the Android 8.0 Oreo update. There is also a “super slo-mo” camera setting that shoots video at 960 fps. While you can only shoot a fraction of a second at this speed, when you get your shot just right, the results are stunning. By comparison, the S8+ can only shoot slow-motion videos at 240 fps, which is quite a noticeably difference, especially on a phone. Here’s a look at 960 fps (at 720p) of a flock of pigeons using the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

The Xperia XZ Premium can also scan objects in 3D; a chair, your face, or your entire head. Xperia XZ Premium’s 3D scan is perfect for editing in Paint 3D with the Windows 10 Creators Update. There’s also a 3D Creator app on the Xperia XZ Premium that allows you to scan anything you want using the phone’s camera. This video shows the 3D Creator app in action.

The video provides some great examples of using the 3D Creator app. I am not sure I would want a 3D-printed head to put on my birthday cake, but there are plenty of other things you can scan. You just need to be able to have enough safe space to scan around the object and the process is not exactly easy or perfected just yet, but it is a good start. I tried my hand at creating a scan of my head and didn’t have the best results.

I found that there is an accompanying app called Shadow Avatars, which places your Avatar head (created with the 3D Creator app) in some entertaining situations.

If Microsoft is able to create their own 3D Creator app in their Surface phone, Microsoft might show people that Paint 3D has more real-world use for the Windows 10 app.

The Sony XZ Premium has a fingerprint sensor, but for some reason this feature was disabled in the US versions of the phone. If you want the edge-to-edge bezel-less displays that are featured on other phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and Galaxy Note 8, the Xperia XZ Premium will be a bit of a disappointment. Also, the camera falls short in low-light situations. Hopefully, Sony will correct these issues with the sequel to the Xperia XZ Premium, set to be unveiled at MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2018.

Another way that the Xperia XZ Premium shines is the ability to play Playstation games using PS4 Remote Play,  a feature that would be great to have on the rumored Microsoft Surface Phone. I don’t have a PS4 and was unable to test this feature, but being able to use the same feature to play Xbox One games via Xbox Play Anywhere, playing games on my phone would be awesome.

Microsoft, Xbox, Sony

There was only one thing that is missing from this phone for me; wireless charging. Wireless charging is something that once you get used to it, it is hard to have a phone without it. I purchased the international version of Sony Xperia XZ Premium, so I didn’t have any issues with the fingerprint sensor. However, the fingerprint sensor is disabled on the US version. You can enable it via some tinkering, but it would have been nice to have the fingerprint sensor working out of the box on the US version.

While I am still in under contract with AT&T to use Samsung Galaxy S8+ (I don’t own it outright, I pay for the device month-to-month), I will likely upgrade to the Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2, if it is announced at MWC 2018. Until then, I am quite happy with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.