Sony Xperia Z review

Sony Xperia Z review

T3 5
  • It’s certainly a good-looking phone that's jam-packed with features but is this the best phone the company has ever made? Here's our Sony Xperia Z review

    Sony Xperia Z review

    Love

    • Smashing hi-def display
    • Superior camera
    • Chic styling

    Hate

    • Too big for some
    • Waterproof ports are fiddly
    • Average battery

    What makes a good smartphone? It’s more than just ticking all the boxes where specs are concerned. It’s not just a couple of striking innovations.

    Sony’s latest is its biggest push yet to join the ranks of top-tier smartphones like the iPhone 5, LG Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy S4. It’s also the biggest phone the company has made. So how does it stack up?

    Sony Xperia Z: Size and build

    Well, despite the 5-inch display, this isn’t the hand-stretching experience you might expect. It ain’t petite, but the thickness makes it reasonably comfy even if you don’t have giant hands. The edges are sharp so this is not a phone, like the Galaxy S4 which you can roll through your fingers like a worry stone because of its smooth, curved edges.

    It’s helped by the fact that the excellent build quality makes it feel good in the hand – shatterproof glass front and back, plastic edging and a solid finish. The dimensions are not small, however, at 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm, and it’s bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S4 in height and width, matching its depth. It’s also 16g heavier than the S4.

    The power button, used to wake the screen from sleep, is two thirds up the right-hand side and unlike some phones where you have to fumble to find it, this one is unmissable, especially on the black and purple versions where it stands out particularly. It’s a metal circle, carefully detailed with a milled finish that looks good.

    This level of precision and subtle marking epitomises the phone. It’s a satisfying experience handling the handset (and that’s before we’ve even turned it on).

    There are hardly any other buttons, in fact limited to the volume rocker which sits on the right edge below the power button. There’s no home button, no camera shutter – it’s a very minimalist effect save for a pair of metallic contacts which are used when the phone is placed in its charging dock. It’s the only design disappointment in the Xperia Z.

    The lack of other buttons and markings is down to the phone being waterproof – the headphone socket, charging point and sim card and microSD card slots are all hidden under flaps which give a streamlined appearance to the phone.

    Sony Xperia Z: Features

    Sony has made sure all the features you’d expect in a high-end smartphone are there. NFC? Check. Quad-core chip? Check. Decent camera? Double-check.  And 4G connectivity? Check – in fact it comes with all the frequencies of LTE that the UK will have, so all networks will be happy.

    One more thing: as mentioned above, it’s waterproof, so you can retrieve it from the toilet bowl (maybe rinse it afterwards, mind) or bath. Texting in the shower is now a possibility, though, seriously? Must you? Note that the price you pay is that there are fiddly flaps to keep water out of the earphone socket and so on.

    Sony says the phone can sit in water to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes without problems, so don’t just leave it in the bath overnight. And anyway, you should let the water run away when you get out of the bath.

  • The Sony Xperia Z packs a huge 5-inch screen, unique battery saving tech and the brand's new Bravia Engine 2. And it's waterproof...

    Sony Xperia Z review

    Love

    • Smashing hi-def display
    • Superior camera
    • Chic styling

    Hate

    • Too big for some
    • Waterproof ports are fiddly
    • Average battery

    The Sony Xperia Z was unveiled at the CES tech show in Las Vegas and T3 was invited along for sneak preview. The new handset will take over the role of the brand's flagship phone from the Sony Xperia T, although the latter will still continue to be sold as well.

    There'll also be Sony Xperia XL, which is only very slightly different to the Xperia Z, although we're told that this model won't be coming to the UK.

    The new flagship handset sports a big 5-inch screen and it's also water resistant - good news for clumsy gadget owners. It's set to go up against top-tier phones like the iPhone 5, HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3, but has it got what it takes to make it into our list of the best smartphones around?  We went in for a closer look...

    Sony Xperia Z: Size and build

    You'd be forgiven for thinking that a phone with such a large screen would be pretty hefty, but the Xperia Z is actually a lot lighter than it looks, tipping the scales at It's also just 7.9mm , so it has a much svelter profile than the likes of the Nokia Lumia 920.

    The "omni-balanced" design features tempered glass back and front for slick, symmetrical aesthetics. You'll also find a nice round aluminium on/off button half-way down the right-hand edge. Not only does it act as a premium style statement, it's also very easy to find at a glance so you won't be searching around for it when you first pick up the phone, as with some rivals.

    It's certainly the best-looking Sony phone yet, with the brand seemingly having finally shaken of the somewhat dull designs of its Ericsson partnership.

    The handset will be available in black or white, plus a purple model that will be exclusive to O2.

    Sony Xperia Z: Features

    Along with its big screen and slick design, the Xperia Z is also Water resistant. We're told that this is a much more standard features in the Japanese market, but it's still a relatively new feature in the UK - with the exception of the recent Panasonic Eluga. The Xperia Z packs the IP57 standard, which means that its water resistant up to 1m for 30 minuntes.

    The phone also has Sony's brand new Mobile Bravia Engine 2, which has been designed for crisper detail, more saturated colours, and real time contrast optimisation. What's more, this is the first phone to include Sony's EXMOR RS sensor, enabling HDR.

    You'll find a 13MP camera on the rear (with 1080p video), along with a 2MP front-facing cam that can deal with 720p video. Sony has also ported over the Superior Auto mode from its camera - this adjusts settings automatically to suit different light levels and movement, so in theory, the camera should perform well in low light conditions - usually the bane of the camera phone.

    Other extras include Sony's Sweep Panorama, along with various other picture effects and a burst mode, operating at 10fps and taking any number of consecutive shots, until the memory is full up.

    As with most of Sony's latest mobile product, the Xperia Z suports NFC one-touch operation and Sony will be introducing a selection of compatible products including a tiny, ball-shaped Bluetooth speaker.

    The phone will also support 4G - for all UK LTE networks.

    Sony Xperia Z: Screen

    One of the key features of the new phone is its massive 5-inch screen which makes it larger than the likes of the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3. The display sports a full HD 1080p resolution along with an pixel density of 443, compared to the iPhone 5's 326.

    The screen felt very responsive, and touchscreen operation even works when the display or your hands are wet - very useful for drizzly British weather.

    Details on the screen appear pin-sharp and colours are bright and punchy. The extra pixel density is something that will really help when it comes to videos and zooming in on web pages.

    Sony Xperia Z: Battery

    The handsets sports a 2370MAh battery and Sony has also thoughtfully includeded a feature called Battery Stamina Mode which is designed to conserve as much battery life as possible.

    The idea is that when the screen is off, the phone automatically turns off everything else, except for telephony. The mode is optional and you can also tweak the settings so that you can choose apps to leave on - for example, so that you can get email and social network notifications.

    According to Sony, the new mode can extend battery life by up to four times. The phone also has a Low Battery Mode which, when enabled, turns off all non-vital funcitons automatically as soon as the battery power drops below a certain level.

    Sony Xperia Z: Performance

     

    As we'd expect, the Xperia Z runs the latest version of Google's mobile OS - Android Jelly Bean. Sony has added its own twist on top of the Android UI, so that the homescreen includes shortcuts to Sony services - Walkman, Album, Movies, Sony Select - and has been designed to look the same across all Sony devices.

    Powered by the quadcore Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset, the phone appeared to be pretty zippy when switching between apps and browsing the web, but that's something we'll look at in more detail in our full review. There's 16GB of storage on board, plus the option to upgrade via a microSD card slot, along with 2GB of RAM.

    Sony Xperia Z: Verdict

    At first glance, the Sony Xperia Z is the most impressive phone that we've seen from the company in a long time, possibly ever. The big screen may divide opinion, but there's no denying the design is slick.

    The good looks combined with the water resistance, Battery Stamina mode and impressive camera chops make this one smartphone to watch in 2013. Keep you eyes peeled for a full review...

    Sony Xperia Z release date: Q1 2013

    Sony Xperia Z price: TBC

    Hands-on review by Libby Plummer

    Check out our Sony Xperia Z preview video:

    • Sony Xperia Z VS iPhone 5
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-11-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-12-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-13-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-14-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-15-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-lead-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-5-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-4-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-6-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-7-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-8-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-9-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-10-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-1-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-2-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/so/xs_Sony-Xperia-Z-3-624.jpg
    • Video
      Sony Xperia Tablet Z vs New iPad (4)

      Head-to-head specs, size, screen, camera, OS and processor

      01:32
    • Video
      Sony Xperia Tablet Z hands-on preview

      We get our hands-on the latest tablet from Sony that joins the Sony Xperia Z smartphone.

      01:42
    • Video
      Sony XPERIA Z1 hands-on video

      It joins the Sony XPERIA Z and the XPERIA Z Ultra, what does the Z1 offer?

      03:43
    • Video
      Sony XPERIA Z2 specs hands-on

      Sony's Z1 gets a follow-up with the Xperia Z2, here are all the details

    • Video
      Sony XPERIA Z2 tablet specs hands-on

      What specs make this tablet from Sony beat the rest?

    • Video
      Sony Xperia Z2 rumours round-up

      We take you through all the latest release date, specs and price rumours

      01:57
  • Sony Xperia Z

    Best deals

    Carphone Warehouse£28.00See deal
    Mobiles.co.uk£26.50See deal
    Mobiles.co.uk£26.50See deal
    Mobiles.co.uk£29.99See deal

Best smartphones

Smartphones

Which smartphone will snag the title of best blower?

Comments

Be the first to comment…

Back to top
Close
T3 Newsletter
Sign up to recieve the T3 newsletters by entering your details below

Your Details

As you're registering with us. we'd like to think that you'd enjoy receiving the following emails; if you'd rather not receive them, please untick the boxes:

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and it's group companies containing news, special offers and product information
I agree to the terms of use and privacy policy and confirm that I am over 16 years of age *
Close
Log in or Join

By clicking below you agree to our terms and conditions and our privacy policy

Log in to T3.com with your preferred social network

Log in with your T3.com account

CloseJoinPlease complete these additional details

Join T3.com with your preferred social network

OR

Join T3.com

Please tick this box to confirm you are 16 years old or over

Just so we know you're human

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Close Edit your profile

Change your password

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Social networks

You have authorised these social networks to interact with your T3.com account.

Please ensure you deactivate or revoke access to this website from within your social networks settings to ensure all permissions are removed.

Close Forgotten your password

Forgotten your password?

Please enter the email address that you used to sign up and we'll send you a new password

Close
Forgotten password
Don't have a T3 Account? Join now