Review: Sony Xperia Z Android Phone

xperia z homescreenSony have been producing increasingly impressive handsets of late, and this latest Z 5” handset is possibly the best of the lot. I was kindly sent a review unit from Phones 4u and spent a couple of weeks testing it out.

Hardware

The Xperia Z is a 5” display, moving Sony into this ever popular ‘giant phone’ category, but with its nice thin bezels and decent weight (146g) it doesn’t feel like a giant in your hand.

The phones key specs are:

  • Qualcomm MDM9215M / APQ8064 1.5GHs processor with Adreno 320 graphics
  • 2GB RAM – 16GB storage (expandable with MicroSD up to 64GB)
  • 5.0” display running at 1080 x 1920 pixels (~441 ppi pixel density)
  • 13.1 MP, 4128×3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash camera
  • Shatter proof and scratch-resistant glass
  • 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm (5.47 x 2.80 x 0.31 in)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0
  • IP57 certified – dust and water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes
  • Android OS, v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to v4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)

The battery is a Li-Ion 2330 mAh battery which is non-removable so you can’t swap it out if it dies, and must rely on an external battery / charger on the go.

The on/off button on the right side of the phone is a curious design, it protrudes from the side quite significantly, far more than is required to be able to locate it by touch. Overall though the phone feels solid with extremely good build quality and, available in white, black or purple, has just enough design etiquette to make it stand out from the sea of featureless slabs in phone shops nowadays.

xperia z right side

Just below the power button is the volume rocker which is the only other physical button on the phone.

Water / Dust Proof

One of the phones key features is its water and dust proof rating (IP57) which protect the phone to a depth of up to 1 meter for up to 30minutes, meaning short of being an underwater diver, the phone should be completely protected against accidental dips on the paddling pool,, or drops into a pint (or worse).

xperia z left side

Because of this, every port on the phone has a rubber sealed “port cover” which needs to be removed to gain access – not a problem for things like the SIM and microSD card which are rarely accessed, but removing/replacing the port covering the microUSB connector required to charge the phone can get tiresome. It’s a worthy trade-off for the peace of mind the water proofing brings though, and you get used to it within a week or so.

There are no dedicated Home / Back buttons, they are the soft key variants at the bottom of the screen as is the ‘Google preferred’ way.

Software

The quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon Krait processor keep the phone moving along nicely, everything is fast and responsive to use, and shown off beautifully on the 1080p HD screen “with Bravia Engine” which sounds like marketing waffle but really does make screens with this technology look extremely bright and vivid.

Android 4.1 is preloaded with an update to 4.2 coming soon, and Sony have customised it just slightly. In line with other Xperia handsets, there is a customised theme with 5 homescreens, and Sony has preloaded its own Apps like Music Unlimited or its own online store.

Chrome is included as the standard web browser, and as usual does a great job with web pages, rendering them quickly and accurately, and bringing the Chrome benefits of shared bookmarks, logins, and the ability to view tabs open on other devices.

xperia z chrome landscape

FRONT IMAGE

Camera

The cameras on the Xperia Z consist of a 13.1MP rear and a 2.2MP front facing. Both of these are seriously impressive, it wasn’t that long ago 2.2MP for the main shooter would have been competitive.

Unfortunately there is no dedicated camera shutter button, so you’re limited to pressing the screen, which can always induce a little wobble, enough to cause blurring until you get used to it.

The camera is generally great though, producing great looking pictures outside and indoors with good light. The LED flash helps inside, but Sony don’t have the pedigree of low-light photography that Nokia is pushing out the door just yet.

Hands on Video

You can check out more details in the hands-on video below:

Summary

Overall the Xperia Z an impressive Android phone, it ticks all the boxes in terms of current leading-edge features, with only the Galaxy S4 and HTC One ahead of it, and if you want something a little more rugged for your lifestyle, then it’s an automatic choice.

The Xperia Z is available from Phones 4u starting from free on £29/month tariffs and if you buy from Phones4U you’ll also get a free Bluetooth speaker worth £149 and £25 credit for the Google Play store.

Written By: Rob Gordon

This post was written by Rob Gordon, an IT geek, gadget lover and blogger. Rob has been using the internets since 1994 when the only streaming video was that coffee pot in Cambridge (rip).... Follow Rob on Twitter - @robgordon - about.me/robgordonuk