Dimensions:5.47 x 2.80 x .31 inches
Processor: Quad-core 1.5GHz Krait
Storage: 16GB, expandable via MicroSD
OS: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Camera: 13MP main, 2.2 MP secondary
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900
3G: HSDPA 850/900/2100
LTE: 800/850/900/1800/21 00/2600
Waterproof, shockproof, dust proof
Screen: 5 inches, 1 080×1920, 441 ppi,
Sony Bravia 2 Engine
WiFi a/b/g/n, bluetooth 4.0
Battery: 2330 Li-ion
·Slim profile for such a large phone
• Gorgeous screen
·Weak signal reception
• Port doors may snap off after some use
It’s pretty and tough. There are few phones out there that offer this combination.
Everyone needs a flagship. You need to be able to feature the best your engineers have been able to cook up, in a way that will wow consumers and convince them of the clear superiority of your brand. The competition in this segment is fierce, particularly in the world of the Android OS. With so many manufacturers at the party, each one must have a device that is nothing short of amazing to get anyone’s attention. At the top of the heap for Sony is the Xperia Z: a glass and composite device that looks beautiful, has the pedigree of a global audio and video manufacturer behind it and it’s tough enough to take a bump, trip or even dip. Did Sony get the job done, or are they stuck with just another ‘droid?
The Xperia Z, first and foremost, is a stunner. It is a gorgeous example of a simple design done right, in my opinion. The sharp lines, high gloss and beautiful accents make it stand out, albeit quietly in a world where every other phone is a slab. The front and back of the device are made from tough reinforced glass that is shock, scratch and shatter-resistant. The glass lies recessed in a shallow lip created by the edges pfthe phone. It is a little peculiar to hold, as the raised edges dig a little in the hand, particularly given the width of the phone. It still great in the hand because of the glass, but doesn’t feel as seamless as other devices in the same category. There are only three buttons on the phone, all on the right edge. There’s the volume rocker, and the nicely-detailed power button in a lovely contrasting silver. It’s a nice little detail that I very much appreciated.
The device is a pleasantly light 146 grams, nicely straddling the line between “toy-light” and “inconveniently heavy:’ It’s something that you will immediately identify as being of great quality, without it constantly reminding you that it is in your pocket. It’s wonderfully slim at about a third of an inch thick, and just a little wide at 2.79 inches. Smaller hands may have a little trouble going edge to edge single-handed, but 36 JUNE 2013 Gadgetslab .indd 36 the extra screen real-estate is well worth it.
The screen on the Z is an absolutely stunning 5-inch TFT at 1920 x 1080 pixels, and the screen density of about 441 ppi, coupled with Sony’s Bravia 2 engine, make for a screen that is sharp, with beautiful, vibrant colors and invisible edges. There is only the slightest of jutter when flipping through images quickly, barely noticeable unless you go out of your way to look for it. It’s one of the nicest screens I have had the pleasure of viewing on a mobile device, and will no doubt mesmerize more than its fair share of consumers.
The Z runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, though an update to 4.2 has been promised in the future. On top of the stock JB interface is a nice, unobtrusive skin by Sony. It doesn’t impede function at all, and does a pretty good job keeping the OS consistent with the look Sony is after. Simple is better when it comes to launchers, and Sony nailed that solid.
One of the highlights of the Xperia Z is the camera. Sony has had a reputation for including great cameras on their phones, and the Xperia Z is no exception. Images are nice, crisp and sharp, thanks to the included 13-megapixel camera, though colors are a little yellow in low light. Sufficient lighting solves this problem somewhat, though most users are unlikely to notice the slight difference in hue.
The Z is plenty fast for basically anything you want to do with a phone. A 1.5GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM will provide all the horsepower for all your mobile tasks, from running apps concurrently to playing HD video from its 16GB of internal storage. The device is expandable via microSD, should you need more space. The Z also comes with NFC connectivity and two tags in the box. We were able to painlessly pair the Z to a Sony NFC speaker with a quick tap; it was very impressive, to say the least.
Battery life was about par with other smartphones of its class, managing a little over a day with about a hundred messages, an hour of calls and almost constant Wi-Fi connectivity. Data runs it dry in under a day, so it might be a good idea to plug in when it is handy. Walking out the door with anything more than half the battery left should be okay. If you need to extend life a bit more, Stamina mode can help with that, though it seems to over-estimate power saving in that mode by a air bit.
The Z is also water resistant and can take a dunk in water, as long as the ports and doors are all closed. There are quite a few on the device, and they are held in place by plastic tethers hidden in the device’s body. When using headphones, inserting the SIM and memory cards, and charging, you may want to take care not to snap the covers off, compromising the watertightness of the phone.
The phone, for all its wonderful features and tricks, had a few problems during the test. Reception was noticeably weaker than the other smartphones we had tested, both for mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity. There were spots other phones managed to grab a bar or two where the Xperia Zjust stayed dead. There were also sporadic problems with the music player that caused it to crash to the home screen, which is a shame, as the stock music player is, true to the Sony name, both gorgeous and useful.
The Xperia Z is a great device. It offers a lot of things you don’t always see in other devices. It’s beautifully designed, robust and has features that do the Sony brand justice. It does have a few flaws that detract from that value a little bit, but nothing that would keep me from wanting to own one. There are other alternatives out there, but a beautiful, large screen, water, scratch and shock resistance and a slim profile, particularly for a phone this size, all equals a very respectable device.
Words by Ren Alcantara