Sony Xperia Z Review: Hands-On

Since our initial hands-on with the Sony Xperia Z we’ve had an opportunity to spend more time with the device and fully test its features. You can read our full review here.

Sony’s new flagship is bigger, brighter and better than anything previously seen from the manufacturer’s Xperia range. Featuring a high-spec, 5-inch display and durable design, the Xperia Z is a striking handset which places the device in the same ‘phablet’ territory as the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Note II.

Featuring Sony’s BRAVIA Engine 2 for outstanding graphical performance, the screen has a 1920 x 1080 resolution with an incredible ppi of 442. A pixel density of that calibre far outdoes any other smartphone display currently on the market and the screen performs brilliantly as a result.

Images have an incredible depth and clarity to them and videos are smooth and clear, with even the tiniest details standing out. The Xperia Z’s display is s step up from anything we’ve seen before and sets the bar considerably higher for other manufacturers.

Aside from the screen, the Xperia Z is still a good-looking handset, with a form factor that moves away from previous Xperia devices. Whereas the last few Sony handsets have featured elements such as curved backplates and arched bodywork, the Xperia Z takes a minimalist shape with squared corners.

With Dragontrail glass protecting both the front and back of the handset and an additional anti-scratch film on top of this, the Xperia Z appears smooth and shiny yet very tough and durable. Sony has taken this degree of protection even further by making the device waterproof to a depth of one metre.

With plastic flaps covering the various ports for headphones, miniUSB and so on the Xperia Z will survive should it accidentally take a plunge. More than this, the display will continue to operate, although the functions of the capacitive touchscreen do not work underwater.

Beyond the hardware, Sony is adapting its smartphone software to bring it more in line with its other products . There is talk of a shared user interface between all Sony products, be they phones, tablets or televisions.

This alteration of software, although small, is a significant step towards creating a wider Sony ecosystem of which the Xperia Z will be just one part. While the Android skin on the Xperia Z still bears quite a resemblance to Sony’s earlier Timescape UI, a few minor modifications, such as the appearance of the lockscreen, set it apart.

The new flagship comes equipped with NFC, a technology which Sony utilises with its One Touch sharing system that allows data and media to be sent between devices.

MHL and DLNA connectivity are also built into the Xperia Z, making it an excellent platform for sending visual media to other devices, although with a display as good as this you may have little reason to do so.

Sony’s recent flagships have featured powerful cameras, with the Xperia T’s 13 megapixel offering being the pick of the bunch. The Xperia Z has the same megapixel count but makes use of the firm’s new Exmor RS sensor, which enables increased HDR functions and should see a decrease in noise on photographs.

Further features include what looks like a very useful battery saving feature called Stamina Mode, and Sony’s take on Beats Audio sound enhancement tech Clear Audio + also makes an appearance and performs well enough to give HTC and its Dre-endorsed collaboration a run for its money

Sony’s new device is striking enough with the display turned off and even more so when that 5-inch HD powerhouse is brought into play. With visuals that better anything else out there Sony is in a strong position to take on Samsung in the high-end Android market.

The Xperia Z has some unique and unusual features such as the high-spec display and waterproofing that should make it stand out and on first impressions it is an excellent upgrade to existing Xperia flagships.

28 thoughts on “Sony Xperia Z Review: Hands-On

  1. Great review and great phone I wish it was more drop proof but I love it. The battery time is great but the earpiece and ringtone are abismally low. It really needs to be much louder, I struggle to hear it ring in my pocket vibrate is not harsh enough and even at max volume., conversations are hard. Love the phone just not even half loud enough. Thanks

    • Hi, Tony

      Thanks for letting us know that you like the review. It’s a shame that the Xperia Z’s audio alerts aren’t loud enough for you but we’re glad you’re happy with the battery life; we actually had some problems with that when testing the handset but if it working out for you then that’s good.

      Do you have any questions about the device that we ca help with?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

  2. hi chris its awsm ph the only drawback is this its speaker location sucks its below right side sound stops while holding in right hand can it shift to centre speaker

    • Hi, Piyush

      The Xperia is fantastic, you’re right. Unfortunately we don’t know of any way of changing where the audio output comes from but have you thought about using headphones or external speakers with the device? This may be worth looking at.

      Do you have any other questions about the handset?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

    • Hi, Ian

      The Xperia Z has excellent sound quality during calls which can equal any other high-handset around. The only time this changes is is the phone gets dropped in water – although waterproof, the sound quality is reduced slightly until it drys out.

      Do you have any other questions about the device?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

  3. hey chris, we have same name so i use seven for my name :D

    i want ask it`s xperia z just water resist or can resist with other liquid like salt water, ketchup, syrup or anything else??

    thx :D

    • Hi, Chris

      The Xperia Z is both water and dust resistant and we found that it should be well protected against splashes from all kinds of everyday liquids. If you take a look at our hands-on video review you’ll see us even dropping it into a bowl of water!

      Do you have any other questions about the device?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

    • Hi, Jayson

      The Xperia Z has an MHL port which allows the device toe be connected to and HDMI television. All you will need is a cable with an MHL plug at one end and an HDMI one at the other.

      Do you have any other questions about Sony’s new device?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

  4. Hi Chris, Nice review.
    Whats the battery life like with the Xperia Z from whatever time you have spent with it, Its in on par with other devices like Galaxy S3 , iPhone 5.
    Is the standby mode actually adding as much battery life as Sony claim

    • Hi, Jenson

      We’re glad you liked the review. Despite the large, very high-spec display we didn’t notice the Xperia Z having any significant problems with its battery life, although we haven’t yet tested this fully. Sony’s power saving innovations also look to be impressive and effective and we’ll be testing them throughly when we do a full review.

      Do you have any other questions about the device?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

    • Hi, Sree

      The Xperia Z has a unibody design with a backplate that can’t be removed. The SIM card slot is hidden under a plastic flap that is mounted on the side of the device and is quite easy to access.

      Do you have any other questions about the device?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

  5. Chris,

    Nice preview of the Xperia Z. Just a few questions:

    Weight? Compared to say the iPhone 5 to the 4 what’s the weight like?

    Functionality? How did you find using the phone – say with one hand?

    Does Sony add any of its own features to Android? Apart from a slight make-over.

    Thanks,

    • Hi, Ryan

      Thanks for the feedback on the review. At 146g the Xperia Z is quite heavy but not so much that it feels uncomfortable in the hand, but we did find that it’s large size made using it with one hand a little difficult. Several Sony features such the Walkman music app and Album photo gallery are included, as well as the OneTouch NFC-based system which has been seen on previous Xperia devices.

      We’ll be a doing a full review of the Xperia Z at a later date so keep checking the Dialaphone blog for more details.

      Thanks again

      Chris, Dialaphone

  6. Hi, Chris

    I have one concern about xperia Z, it is very nice phone but till now there is no drop test for xperia z, as a user we request you to do one drop test for xperia z to check durability of glass and also i want to know exactly which kind glass they using for display and back bcoz in there website it is non mentioned clearly.
    I also want to know as battery is non-removable what are advantages of non-removable battery other than space. and if ur phone is stuck or hang how to handle that kind of situation as battery is non removable.

    Thanks
    Ashutosh

    • Hi, Ashutosh

      We haven’t been able to do a full review of the Xperia Z yet but when we do we’ll give more information about how well it is put together. As for your question about the battery, many Xperia handsets have a force reset function which can be performed by holding down the lock and volume buttons for five seconds. This does the equivalent of pulling out the battery and can be used should the handset crash.

      Do you have any other questions about Sony’s new device?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

    • Hi, Vhupal

      Thanks for the feedback on the review, we’re glad you liked it. Do you have any questions about Sony’s new device that we can help with?

      Chris, Dialaphone

    • Hi, Mahfuj

      While we haven’t yet been able to fully test the Xperia Z’s external speaker we found it to be quite loud during our brief hands-on. Sound quality also appeared to be of a high standard and the speaker continues to work when under water. We’ll be doing a full review at a later date so keep checking the Dialaphone blog for more information.

      Do you have any other questions about the handset?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

    • Hi, Charlie

      We’re glad you liked our hands-on with the Xperia Z, we’ll be doing a full review at a later date. Unfortunately, Android Jelly Bean doesn’t allow you to install apps to an external SD card, with only the internal memory available. However, the 16GB of internal memory does leave plenty of space for doing this.

      Do you have any other questions about the handset?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

  7. Hi, I am planning to buy note 2 but after I saw the expira z review I got impressed in sony. So, when it will be launched in India and how much it will cost in INR…. pls let me know soon so that i can buy.

    • Hi, Prakash

      We’re glad that you liked our review of Sony’s new device. As a UK retailer we don’t have any information about when the Xperia Z will go on sale in India, but we can tell you that it will be available in Britain from 1 March.

      Do you have any other questions about the handset?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

    • Hi, MK

      The Xperia Z’s speaker is on the bottom of the handset. While we haven’t had chance to test the handset properly we didn’t notice any problems with the way it performed and will be testing it more thoroughly when we do a full review of the new device.

      Do you have any other questions about Sony’s new smartphone?

      Thanks

      Chris, Dialaphone

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