Sony took its own sweet time to deliver a new flagship smartphone, but came out with what looks like its most promising handset. Will the new Xperia handle competition just as well as it handles water and dust?
Usually, I wouldn’t delve too deep into the number of cores a phone’s processor has. It usually doesn’t matter much what processor it has, as long as the OS, UI and apps can be handled easily. But then at the same time, all the Android super-smarties and flagships have been outfitted with Quad-core chips, making it a must-have on a smartphone, and Sony became outdated in terms of core processing power (which makes a lot of difference in the world of Android).
With CES, however, Sony finally had a new flagship in the form of the Xperia Z, which caught everyone’s attention by being dunked into a fishbowl full of water. At last, I thought, that Sony is ready to take on the big guns. And from the moment it landed on Smartbuy’s desk, we’ve been trying to figure out if this could be the best Android around.


Of course, the first thing I did was to drop this phone in a bowl of water. Then I put it in a glass of water. And then under a tap of running water. Once I was convinced that it really is water-resistant, I moved on to the rest of the review process.
Once the phone had been wiped dry, I could see that it is a shiny phone of sorts. Not the blingy shiny, but the mirror kind of shiny. The phone has glass all over, with coating that makes everything reflect off its surface. That is, if it has been just wiped clean – it’s a smudge magnet, this one. Sony says the glass is scratch resistant. But I’m not sure if it is as tough as Corning Gorilla Glass, because I could see some scratches on my demo unit very clearly. That said the phone does have an overall tough character.


In my opinion, Sony’s smartphones have always been the ultimate media consumption devices, and the Xperia Z upholds that legacy. That big, 5-inch full HD screen is bright and rich in colours, and I watched quite a few 1080p movies on it. The 1.5GHz quad-core chip and the 2GB RAM power the phone quite efficiently – I could watch full-HD movies and multitask with other apps with zero lag or stalls.
The 16GB onboard memory did seem a little less to me. Given its stupendous multimedia performance, I would’ve loved to load it up with media and carry it around. There is a microSD expansion port available, that supports up to 64GB, but playing media through a microSD sometimes slowed the Z down.
The Z, otherwise, is quite the multitasker. The UI too, has been made a little better from the previous generation, and the present specs handle the Android v4.1.2 Jelly Bean OS pretty well. We got a score of 7537 on Quadrant, which is the same as HTC One X+ and LG Optimus G. Of course, it’s quite less than HTC One, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t rubbing shoulders with other super-smarties.


I have never disliked the cameras on Sony’s smartphones. The ones on the Ion and the SL were also quite good, considering the competition in their time. The Z, however, has tough competition in terms of HTC One and Nokia Lumia 920, in the camera department.
But while trying out the camera, I felt that this one isn’t bad at all. The low light shots had very minimal levels of noise. Even the bright shots had the right amount of colours. On the phone’s screen, when we checked the pictures out, the colours looked a little vivid and exaggerated, but when we transferred them onto the PC, they looked just fine. The AF is fast to respond, and the video quality too, is good. The secondary camera was also good, on Skype calls and Google Hangouts.


The battery was a little disappointing. While I could manage an entire working day on just WiFi, using audio, video, and all the social network apps, the battery life went drastically down to just 9 hours on combined usage of 3G and WiFi. Of course, I used a little more video, but I’ve also run the same tests on the LG Optimus G and HTC One X+ and gotten more juice.


The Xperia Z makes me stick to my old opinion – that Sony’s smartphones are the best ones around for media consumption. There are other quad-core, full-HD smartphones around, but the way this new flagship handles media with everything else, makes it worth the money.
And, since it’s one of the best looking phones Sony has ever produced, it fits right into the premium smartphone segment with the big ones. Oh, and lest we forget, this is one phone you can take out in the rain!
Rs 37,900
Love – Awesome multimedia experience, good camera
Hate – Battery life, scratch and smudge prone back panel
sabyasachi.b@thehindu. co. in

The high-end smartphone market is essentially dominated by Samsung and Apple, with the question being on many minds when shelling out for the fanciest phone: iPhone or Galaxy?
Sony hopes to make that a tougher question to answer with their Xperia Z, an Androidsmartphone which looks set to try and knock the two giants off their perch. It’s expensive, it’s impressive – but is it any good?

Sony Xperia Z Design and Build Quality

The Xperia Z’s design is as beautiful as it is simple. It’s obvious that it is a very high-end device from the moment you lay eyes on it; and let’s face it, this is exactly what you want for the amount of money you’re paying (RRP R7,999).
The front and back are both done in smooth glass, with a black frame and a touch of aluminium around the edges. The screen takes up the majority of the real estate; you won’t even find a basic home button on the front, which takes a little getting used to. The typical home, back, and menu buttons we expect to see at the bottom of the phone actually appear on the screen itself, except when using full screen applications or watching videos.
On the top left you’ll find the 3.5mm audio jack and a micro USB port, complete with covers. The right side has an discreet volume rocker and a more obvious shiny metal power button. Sony has really gone the extra mile by advertising the device as water resistant – I wasn’t brave enough to test this particular claim, but it does explain the port covers.
One thing to keep in mind is that like most high-end devices of its kind today, this is a very large phone. Thus you’ll have to possess the requisite proficiency in hand gymnastics to operate it single-handed – but this is also true of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One.
Sony Xperia Z front and back
Sony Xperia Z front and back

Sony Xperia Z Internal Hardware

This is where the Xperia Z really shines. Sony has packed some serious power into this elegant case, with a Quad-core 1.5Ghz CPU paired with a tidy 2GB of RAM. It should come as no surprise that it’s near impossible to get any lag out of this thing – it can comfortably run anything you throw at it, and the interface is as fluid and easy to navigate as you would expect.
On our AnTuTu benchmarks, it blew almost everything else out of the water with an average score of 20,194 – this makes it one the fastest Android devices we’ve ever tested, edging out the HTC One which scored an average of 19,950, but falling short of the Samsung Galaxy S4 which scored 27,582.4.
It comes with internal storage of 16GB, but if you’re a multimedia enthusiast this can be expanded with a microSD card, up to 64GB.

Sony Xperia Z Screen and Responsiveness

The display on the Xperia Z is beautiful. With a Full-HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a pixel density of 441ppi, it doesn’t get a whole lot prettier than this. This is the same resolution you’ll find on the HTC One, but the screen is slightly bigger, making text a little easier to read, particularly when browsing.
However, this is a TFT screen, unlike the AMOLED screens found on devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4. The result is slightly less saturated colours, but this is difficult to criticise, primarily because it’s a matter of preference. For some, the colours on AMOLED screens are a little too saturated, making the colours seem somewhat unrealistic. I have heard Samsung’s colours described as “too bright”, so the AMOLED style is obviously not for everyone.
The Xperia Z’s screen isn’t lacking in brightness (it can easily double as a torch when Eskom is on a break), and performs well under direct sunlight. The one criticism I can make is that the viewing angles could be a little better, but they’re by no means bad. Considering the powerful hardware, it should come as no surprise that the Xperia Z had no problem detecting ten simultaneous touch points.
Sony Xperia Z screen
Sony Xperia Z screen

Sony Xperia Z Camera

It’s a recurring theme with this phone, but once again Sony has pulled out all the stops. The Xperia Z boasts a whopping 13-megapixel camera with an Exmor RS sensor, which is particularly good in low-light conditions. I was impressed – shots taken inside and out were crisp and clear, with very good focus and bright colours. That said, I have seen better detail on other cameras such as that found in the S3, but the Xperia Z by no means underperforms.
Video recording was mostly great; although I did find that in low light it occasionally had difficulty focusing.
While the camera is excellent, there are better ones out there, and the Xperia Z’s ability to handle low light and exposure comes at the cost of finer detail.

Sony Xperia Z Battery

The Xperia Z is powered by a non-removable 2,330mAh battery. It didn’t perform particularly well in this department, but it will get you through a full day. On the AnTuTu battery benchmark it scored a rather mediocre 322, which for reference puts it below a Samsung Galaxy S2. All that power has to come at a cost after all.
However, Sony has attempted to combat this with Stamina mode, a neat feature which suspends all activity when the phone’s screen is off. The assumption is that if the screen is off, you don’t actually need all those background applications to be running, but you can whitelist certain apps if you want to. It’s not ideal, but it does work surprisingly well.

Sony Xperia Z Software

The Xperia Z comes out of the box with the latest Android version, Jellybean 4.1.2. Sony haven’t done much tinkering with the interface, the software is very close to standard Android.
The main differences you’ll spot are the likes of application branding such as Walkman, but otherwise it’s very close to what you’d expect to see on a Google Nexus. The Walkman application is actually a great music player, with a very intuitive and easy to navigate UI.
Sony have also included a feature called ClearAudio+, which when listening through headphones, makes a dramatic difference in sound quality.
There are of course all the standard apps you’d expect to see as well; social media, Google apps, and a bundled version of OfficeSuite. One thing I really liked was Sony Car, a menu which gives large, driving-friendly shortcuts to things you’d probably need, such as Google Maps and calling options. Not that I’d ever operate a phone while driving, of course.
Sony Xperia Z colour range
Sony Xperia Z colour range

Sony Xperia Z Conclusion

This is Sony’s flagship phone, and it shows. The company has left nothing to chance, packing the device with blisteringly fast hardware and every feature you could want. At an RRP of R7,999, it’s a good thing they did.
Comparisons are obviously going to be made to the biggest and best on the block, the Galaxy S4. From a technical standpoint, the Xperia Z is going to sit in second place. However, it’s almost a moot point – both devices are more than capable of handling anything you throw at them, and an AnTuTu benchmark score in the 20,000s isn’t going to disappoint anybody.
This is a truly excellent phone, but then again, so is the HTC One and the Galaxy S4. So how do you decide? It’s going to come down to preference – you have to figure out which display, which interface, and which design you like best, although the Xperia Z surviving a drop in the toilet does give it a small edge.
The Xperia Z is a worthy competitor in the top echelons of the Android smartphone market.