Sony Xperia Z review

Key Features:

5in screen (1080 x 1920; 441ppi)
16GB storage (expandable)
Android 4.1.2
13 Megapixel Camera
Waterproof
Price £498

If you haven’t heard of Sony’s new flagship device the Xperia Z, I can only assume you lock yourself off from the rest of the world as the 4G capable Xperia Z has undergone some heavy marketing from Technology giants Sony.

The ads displayed by Sony all seem to include a slogan claiming that the Xperia Z has “reinvented the smartphone”, clearly it hasn’t but it sure has caught everyone’s attention including other big players like Apple and Samsung. This time around Sony is hoping that the unique design, powerful hardware and the waterproof capabilities of the Xperia Z is enough to win you over, but is it enough? Let’s find out.

front

Screen

The first part of this review I would like to discuss is the screen — usually I would begin with the hardware but the Screen was the first thing to catch my attention so it’s only fair I start there.
The Xperia Z has a 5-inch full HD screen with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels giving it a pixel density of 441ppi and to make it that little bit more “special” it is powered by Sony’s Bravia Mobile Engine 2 technology (the same technology used in their televisions). The main reason im writing about the screen is due to the fact that these specs all sound great and they are – to an extent.

The screen is huge making web content and ebooks a pleasure to view and it functions great in direct sunlight but if you place this device next to the HTC One the Xperia screen suddenly looks washed out. This is mainly due to the fact Sony used a TFT panel rather than the IPS panels we see in other high end devices. Gaming and streaming media from Youtube was great on the big screen but viewing angles can be a problem at times, a simple tilt and the quality just isn’t as good as you would expect.

This was my main gripe with the handset as Sony made the Bravia technology integration sound like the screen would be awesome but sadly it’s a tad disappointing for me.

 

Hardware/Software/Connectivity

Home Screen

The Xperia Z runs Android 4.1.2 and although it is not the most up-to-date version it is certainly more than adequate. The device is powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Processor and features 2GB of RAM. In terms of memory, you get 16GB of flash memory and expansion through microSD up to 32GB. The option of being able to add more memory has always been a big selling point to me as I like to carry my full music collection around with me. Like all high end smart-phones on the market these days the Xperia Z is fast and powerful, you will have no problems playing games like Shadowgun, Real Racing 3 or Grand Theft Auto 3.

Streaming HD content is also a breeze on this device and if you sit the screen at the correct angle it looks stunning. In terms of connectivity all the usual suspects can be found here, the device has Bluetooth 4.0, HSDPA and GPRS connectivity options. Tthe latest Sony handset also benefits from the 4G ready compatibilities and integrated NFC technologies.

 

Look And Feel

home and volume rocker

The Xperia Z certainly is a marvel to look at in my opinion, the design is just lovely, the flat surfaces, huge screen and 90 degree angles make it stand out from the crowd. Sony calls this design language, OmniBalance. The Xperia Z has glass panels front and back and the edges are made from plastic which are surprisingly soft to touch. One thing I will point out is the glass panels are fingerprint magnets, we reviewed the white version so I can only presume this is worse on the black model. The only part that isn’t white on the handset is the chrome power and volume buttons, these do a nice job of breaking the device up a little.

The device itself is a pleasure to hold, at just 7.9mm thin and weighing in at just 146g, with the phones size you would expect it would be heavier. The device has come under a lot of criticism in the feel category mainly due to the fact there are no curved edges or back like the HTC One for example. I found these claims to be false but as this is my take on the device you will have to hold it for yourself to find out. I do think that smaller hands may find the device a struggle to hold.

 

Waterproof

Sony-Xperia-Z-water

As stated the Xperia Z is waterproof and has been designed to IP55 and IP57 standards. This means that it will remain waterproof for 30 minutes under one meter of fresh water and withstand low pressure jets of water from all practical directions.

This is pretty high end technology to be putting into a smart-phone and Sony ha, achieved this by using plastic flaps that cover all the ports including micro-USB, SIM, micro-SD and headphone jack. This is all great if you drop your phone down the loo or decide to call someone in a shower or bath but the flaps can be annoying at times especially when charging the device. It may have helped if Sony implemented wireless charging along with this technology to make it less of a footer when charging. For this reason I would happily give up the waterproof feature, as on cold winter nights when I’m wearing gloves and want to put my headphone’s on it is impossible to remove the flap without first taking my gloves off.

Camera

Camera app

Sony seems to be the king when it comes to camera’s on phones as their 13 megapixel Exmor sensor can be found in many top end phones. The Xperia Z is rocking the new Exmor R sensor and is the first smartphone to have it on both front and rear camera’s. So as you can imagine with the Xperia Z, I expected nothing but quality. I am by no means a photographer so I used Auto Mode while testing the camera and it worked perfect.

The images produced seemed lovely to me, on the other hand my wife who is a photographer by trade, she tested Superior Auto Mode for me and the images didn’t seem to be as good, as the colors seemed over saturated. The camera works great in low light, this was a great selling point for me as when out at clubs in low light situations, pictures can look terrible but not on the Z.

The camera features every mode and feature I could think of from face detection to panorama mode. Even the 2 megapixel front facing camera is pretty good and features the Exmor R sensor as mentioned above.
The video mode is also great as you can shoot full 1080p movies with ease and the results are just stunning. Overall the camera is excellent and you will not be disappointed.

Battery Life

Gaming

Now for the part you have all been waiting for — what is the battery life like? As with most high end smart-phones, battery life isnt great especially when using 4G but the 2,330mAh battery will get you through a full day with moderate usage. Sony has included a built in feature known as Stamina Mode which works its magic by shutting down all those nasty battery-draining features when the phone is asleep.

If you want total honesty I use my device a lot during the day for blogging, reading news and watching the occasional review on Youtube and I’m lucky to see 8 hours out of this handset. In my opinion, this is not actually that Terrible as my iPhone 5 gives me only 6. We can only hope that battery technology improves so power users like myself can get through a whole day.

Verdict

The Sony Xperia Z is definitely the best smart-phone Sony has ever produced, it is beautiful to look at and extremely well built. I only wish Sony had put more effort into the screen as it really lets this device down. The camera, processing power and software are all awesome and you wouldn’t be disappointed with this device until you sat it next to the similarly priced HTC One and compared the screen.

Be Sociable, Share!

The following two tabs change content below.
avatar

Ryan Oneill

Editor In Chief

I live in Scotland UK and have been blogging about technology for a long time. I started BeginnersTech as I wanted even the total novice to be able to enjoy it as much as I do. If you ever need help or want to ask a question you have come to right place.

avatar

Latest posts by Ryan Oneill (see all)