Sony's new Xperia Z1 promises "true compact camera performance" thanks to cutting-edge optics nicked from Sony's standalone camera range, but what really sets it apart from the crowd is its suite of exclusive imaging apps that make your snaps better and sharing the results less of a chore.
As well as being extremely good at your usual modern telephone features, the Xperia Z1 takes the automation of sharing photo and video to the next level. Social live is the name of the most significant of Sony's new camera tools, a feature that lets you continuously stream up to ten minutes of live video to Facebook on the fly, which will then feed-back any comments you receive, also live, over the top of the video feed.
If you are very, very social and use Facebook day in and day out, it's an amazing feature. If you're a bit shy, well, then you could use it to remotely look out of the window.
To help make sure you always capture something worth sharing whenever you whip out the Xperia Z1, the new Timeshift Burst option will help. This mode asks the camera to capture a staggering 61 full resolution shots in the space of two seconds, buffering one second's worth of images before you even fully press the shutter button and continuing to automatically snap away for another second after.
This generates your own little flipbook of images to leaf through once you've taken a shot, from which you're able to pull out the best one and bin the rest. This means you ought to always end up with a photo in which everyone pictured has their eyes open, is happy with the way their chins and assorted hairstyles look and is happy to approve the end result for sharing, tweeting, printing and general distribution.
If nothing of note is happening in the scene and your subjects are sitting there looking pretty boring and uninspired, the Xperia Z1's imaging software lets you jazz things up by activating the in-camera augmented reality plaything. This bonkers AR Effect mode chucks animated fish, dinosaurs and more into your photos, livening up even the dullest of rain-soaked picnics.
For a more serious use of today's augmented reality trend, Sony's integrated a thing it calls Info-Eye into the Z1's camera app. This system can analyse your photos and recognise landmarks, giving you instant feedback on what it sees. Take a photo of a book or wine bottle and it'll pull up its name and some details, like some sort of infinitely clever butler-cum-sommelier that lives to make you seem cleverer than you actually are. Cheating at pub quizzes has never been easier.
So much fun new stuff to play with. And that's just inside the Xperia Z1's camera.