Update: T-Mobile has responded to our request for clarification. The press material accompanying this device was incorrect; there is no OIS on this unit. The camera movement we saw is a result of the camera’s autofocus system. Pocketnow regrets the error.
When we first laid eyes on the Sony Xperia Z1S last month at CES 2014, we weren’t exactly blown away. Not because there was anything wrong with the device -its specs were great and its glossy glass construction was just as fetching as it had been on the Xperia Z1 we’d reviewed some months before- but because there wasn’t much to set it apart from that smartphone.
Sony must’ve thought so too, because it came to the show with some revised branding for its new flagship variant. The company immediately positioned the Z1S as “the world’s best camera in a waterproof smartphone” – a phrase we heard unendingly over the course of Sony’s press conference. Alongside a variety of other distinctions like IP58 ingress protection and a 5-inch display, the best-underwater-camera claim will no doubt catch the eye of some T-Mobile USA subscribers, the only customers in America currently able to buy the device with a carrier discount.
But is the claim true? Does the Z1S’s camera really distinguish itself in a world already populated by its beefy predecessor and more bombastic entrants like Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 Active? And what about regular old above-water photography, an area where Sony’s previous efforts have needed software tweaks to shine? How does the Z1S do there?
Join us as we find out. First, refresh your memory on the distinguishing characteristics of the Z1S with our CES 2014 hands on:
Then come along with us for an examination of the ins and outs of this optically stabilized 20.7MP camera, from the well-lit sidewalks of Cambridge to the dank kitchen sinks of Somerville:
And finally, check our conclusions against your own feelings: we’ve embedded every sample photo from the video above in the gallery below. Click on down, check ‘em out with your own peepers, and decide for yourself if this is indeed the best waterproof smartphone camera in history.