While most of the industry attention is on Sony’s newest baby, the Xperia Z2 which was announced in India yesterday, it is easy to forget that the device Xperia Z2 is succeeding is not a half bad smartphone either. While Sony has by all accounts improved the display on the Xperia Z2 by making the viewing angles a lot better, most of the other updates are barely incremental and not earth shattering. Though, the display is certainly a big deal because we firmly believe, that had Sony paid a little more attention to the display on the Z1, it would have done a lot more than what it did in the market. By all means, the Xperia Z1 remains a device with unfulfilled potential, one that was let down by a less than acceptable display.
So, if you own a Sony Xperia Z1, you could either exchange your device for the Z2 and take a financial hit or just sit in melancholy thinking plenty of what ifs. But there is a third option as we found that, there are a few things you can do to your Xperia Z1 to get to a level where the display is acceptable if not just brilliant. It is worth mentioning everyone has a different liking and feel for colors, so what colors may appeal to us, may not to you, we do urge you to try the setup instead of taking our word as a gospel. Here are a few things that we did to our display personally, that you could try for a more satisfying experience with your device:
1) Install Lux
We felt that the auto brightness of the Xperia Z1 while being aggressive was not aggressive enough. Especially in dim light condition as the display was really bright and it felt like at times we were staring into the sun when the lights were down. This can be a major annoyance, especially if you like bedtime reading with your smartphone. Lux is an app that handles auto brightness really aggressively, also giving you controls for adjusting the brightness based on the ambient lighting conditions. This helped preserve battery life and also improved the outdoor visibility on the device.
Play Store: Download Lux from here
2) Change the White Balance
Go into the Settings of your phone and click on Display option under Device and you will find White Balance. You can tune the colors here for the optimum experience. We found the display on the Xperia Z1 to be not very well callibrated. The whites are closer to yellow and blacks are close to deep blue. We set the colors on our device as R:5, G:5, B:117. This gave us what was the closest to near perfect whites and blacks. Though there was a hint of blue in whites, it works for us so much better than seeing yellows in whites. You must play around with the sliders and select whats best for you. An alternate RGB scale of 20,25 and 55 has also worked for certain people, so let your own eyes decide, but changing the white balance does wonders to your phone as it adds some much needed coldness to what is a very warm looking display.
3) Turn the X-Reality for Mobile off and on again
Under the Display options in Settings on the Z1, you can turn the X-Reality engine on or off. We urge you to use the device under both the conditions. While this obviously does not make much of a difference in the regular UI of the phone, we do feel the videos and some images actually looked better with Reality engine off. What exactly does the X-Reality Engine do? This is best explained by a post on Android Authority which says:
“So, how does X-Reality work? According to Sony, the software breaks down the signal sent to the display into several components – texture, outline, contrast, and color. Each one is separately analyzed and processed, to ensure the clearest, sharpest, most attractive final image.Of course, results may vary. The videos of your kittens that you filmed with your old 3MP camera phone won’t magically turn into crystal-clear, high definition masterpieces. But in some situations, X Reality will make content look noticeably better.”
So, while it does sound jazzy, it worked well for us only in pictures with deep colors, and images with lots of light or white looked a bit faded. You might want to give it a shot yourself and see what works for you. We had the X Reality engine turned off for most of the time.
4) Get rid of that plastic shield on the Z1
If you did not know, your Sony Xperia Z1 ships with a plastic shield of sorts on top of the display. Sony says this is a shatter protector to help you keep the display safe, but its perhaps not of very high quality. After using the phone for a while, this just starts getting really messy on the edges of the protector. Go to a good phone dealer and get the protector removed and replace it with a good tempered glass protector and it will do wonders for the whole experience. It is extremely important to get a new protector as there is no oleophobic coating on the underlying display and it would make for just a very messy experience otherwise. We urge our readers not to try this stunt themselves unless they are very confident as the protector is heat bonded and may end up ruining your display while coming off. You can check out a video below to get an idea of how to go about it though if you are feeling adventurous:
So, those were some of the things that we did with our device to bring it to the level where the display did not right put us off. Go ahead and give it a try if you are a Z1 owner and let us know what worked for you and what did not.