The Xperia Z1 is arguably Sony's most accomplished smart phone to date, offering incredible power, a pin-sharp HD screen, amazing photographic prowess and an iconic design -- all wrapped up in a case which is both water and dust resistant.
If you're one of the many lucky individuals who have picked up this flagship Android phone then you'll want some grounding in how best to exploit its power. That's where this handy list of 10 top tips comes in.
1. Banish that bloatware
While many of the exclusive features Sony has included in the Xperia Z1 come in very handy indeed, there are some apps you will simply never use -- if you've already pledged your allegiance to Google's app, game, movie and music eco-system, then Sony's own offerings are redundant.
You can't delete these apps, but you can disable them to prevent them from appearing in app selection menus or -- or on rare occasions -- hogging processor power. Go to Settings > Apps, and then locate the app you wish to disable from the 'All' panel. Sometimes disabling an app can lead to instability, but don't be too scared -- you can enable the app again if your phone starts to behave strangely.
2. Tinker with your Quick Settings
Quick Settings are the options that appear at the top of the notification panel when you swipe it down, and allow you to gain easy access to elements such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and screen brightness. You can edit the icons that show here to suit your own personal preference -- simply drop into Settings > Personalisation > Quick Settings.
3. Search using visuals with Info-Eye
Searching using words or speech is so last year, man -- these days, it's all about searching via pictures. Info-Eye is so clever it recognises landmarks, books, text and even brands of wine, and serves you relevant data in a heartbeat. For example, you could use Big Ben to search for nearby restaurants, but that's not all -- Info-Eye is also capable of reading barcodes, QR codes and business cards. You can find this feature in your camera shooting-mode menu.
4. Make your keyboard even smarter
All keyboards come with some kind of predictive text feature these days, but they make these suggestions based on set rules, and not everyone types in the same fashion.
With the Z1's default keyboard, you can connect your Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and SMS history in order to "teach" the keyboard your style of writing, as well as unique words you use. Go to Settings > Language & Input, and then scroll down to Xperia Keyboard - International. Tap the settings icon on the right-hand side, and then select 'Use my writing style'. From here, you can grant the keyboard access to various accounts, which will allow it to learn the way you type.
5. Always get the best photo with TimeShift Burst
Getting the best shot is all about timing, but with TimeShift Burst you can remove the risk of failing to capture the best image. Enable it in the camera app's shooting-mode menu and when you take a shot you'll be presented with a series of images, allowing you to pick the best one to save for posterity.
6. Hard reset your phone to solve unexpected crashes
Smart phones are complex beasts, and it should come as no surprise that sometimes they get a little befuddled and crash. If your Xperia Z1 freezes or becomes unresponsive, you may find that even the power button doesn't bring it back from the dead. Fear not, however -- there's a red 'hard reset' key in the SIM-card bay. Prod this with a pin or pen and your device will be fully rebooted -- hopefully solving your problem.
7. Make your battery last longer
The problem with all these amazing apps and games we have on smart phones is that sometimes they keep running in the background, leaching valuable CPU power and sipping at your precious battery life. Go to Settings > Power Management to toggle a range of unique Z1 settings, which allow you to make the most out of your phone's stamina -- there's even a handy prediction of how long your battery will last on the current configuration and usage pattern.
8. Upload your photos to the cloud
If you lost your phone tomorrow, then all of the photos you've snapped on it would be lost with it -- which is why uploading your images to the cloud is highly recommended. In the camera app, tap the menu icon in the bottom-left corner of the display (the three dots), and then tap the Settings icon. Select 'Auto Upload' and then tick PlayMemories Online -- you'll need to sign in with your Sony account, which is different from the one you use to sign into Google's services. If you don't have one, you'll need to sign up to use the PlayMemories Online. Alternatively, you can simply install Google+ and use that to store your photos online instead. Choice is good!
9. Ensure a watertight defense at all times
Getting your mobile wet is usually no laughing matter, and is often followed by a painful repair bill. Thankfully Sony has made the Xperia X1 water resistant, which means it doesn't mind a bit of moisture and can withstand being submerged in the wet stuff for up to 30 minutes - you can even take photos underwater. The key thing to remember here though is that the phone is only waterproof when all of the port covers are properly secured; before putting your beloved Z1 near any liquid, make sure the microSD, SIM card and micro-USB covers are all pushed down firmly -- the smallest opening will allow water into the phone.
10. Add some more reality to your shots
Augmented reality has already been seen on the likes of the Sony PSP and Nintendo 3DS, and the Xperia Z1 allows you to use this feature to add another dimension to your photos. In the camera menu, select AR Effect. You can then pretend to be in a fairytale kingdom, funky disco or even underwater -- all with realistic 3D effects.