Sony Xperia Z review
- Smashing hi-def display
- Superior camera
- Chic styling
- 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.