By May 4, 2013

Sony Xperia Z Review

Sony Xperia ZSony have been trying their best over the past months since buying the Ericsson half of the company to release smartphones that are capable of competing with the ‘big boys’ as it were. Their issue with that idea though has been timing, what I mean by this is the fact that last year their flagship device was the Xperia T, which they released a long time after HTC’s One X and even the Samsung Galaxy S3 and we all know how good they both were and still are!

So Sony have some ground to make up you could say, well their latest and greatest device is what I have here, the Xperia Z and it is an absolute beast! Both aesthetically and on the hardware side too so maybe 2013 will be the year that Sony can absolutely compete with their considerable competition?

To find out all of the answers that you seek please do read on, but not before watching the Sony Xperia Z unboxing video from Matt, unless you already have of course!

What’s in the Box?

  • Sony Xperia Z
  • 3-Pin UK Charger
  • MicroUSB cable
  • 3.5mm Headset with extra ear buds of different sizes
  • Screen Protector
  • Important Information/Start up guide and Warranty Information

The 10 Second Review:

  • Product: Sony Xperia Z
  • Price: £499 Pay As you Go, £529 Sim Free, free from £36
  • Summary: A beautifully designed and well-built beast of a phone with an awesome display. It’s without its flaws though, none more so than its sheer size as this could and probably will put a lot of people off.
  • Best of: Design, Build quality, display, camera, lightning fast.
  • Worst of: Too big for most, requires two hands almost all of the time, loves fingerprints! Uncomfortable to make a call on due to edges.
  • Buy From: Various online and high street outlets with varied prices
  • Also Consider: HTC One, Samsung S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Sony Xperia Z specification:

  • 2G Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – C6602, C6603
  • 3G Network: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 2100 – C6603
  • 4G Network: LTE 800 / 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 – C6603
  • Micro-SIM
  • Dimensions: 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm (5.47 x 2.80 x 0.31 in)
  • Weight: 146 g (5.15 oz)
  • IP57 certified – dust and water resistant
  • Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.0 inches (~441 ppi pixel density)
  • Shatter proof and scratch-resistant glass
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Memory: microSD, up to 64 GB
  • Internal Memory: 16 GB, 2 GB RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP
  • NFC
  • USB: microUSB v2.0 (MHL)
  • Camera: 13.1 MP, 4128×3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, image stabilization, HDR, sweep panorama
  • Video: 1080p@30fps, video stabilization, HDR, check quality
  • Secondary Camera: 2.2 MP, 1080p@30fps
  • OS: Android OS, v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), planned upgrade to v4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • Chipset: Qualcomm MDM9215M / APQ8064
  • CPU: Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait
  • GPU: Adreno 320
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
  • Radio: Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • GPS with A-GPS support and GLONASS
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 2330 mAh battery

General

On top of the phone is a protective flap covering the 3.5mm headphone slot, (get used to me saying protective flap).

Sony Xperia Z ReviewSony Xperia Z top

On the left side of the phone at the top is a protective flap covering the MicroUSB slot and directly beneath that flap is another this time it covers the MicroSD slot. The final thing on this side is 2 metal pins which are for the yet unreleased charging dock.

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The right side consists of the Micro SIM slot, again covered by a protective cover. Beneath this is the oddly designed power button which at first looks a lot like something that holds the phone together! And then below that is the up/down volume rocker. Right at the bottom in the corner is the external loud speaker and lanyard holes.

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The bottom of the phone is where the microphone hole is placed, the rest is smooth.

Xperia bottom copy

On the back is where you will find the 13 Megapixel camera with Led flash, next to these is a second microphone for noise cancelation. Then directly in the middle is a shiny Xperia logo.

Xperia back copy

Finally on the front of the device is where you find the speaker for voice calls, front facing camera, Sony Logo and alongside that are the sensors and LED notification light. Right below all of those is the huge 5 inch display, and at the bottom is the speaker for calls.

Xperia front angle copy

Hardware:

Sony have never, in my opinion had an issue with design or build quality with their smartphones so we can tick this box before I’ve even said a word about the Xperia Z, but honestly the build quality of the Z is just remarkable. It’s made from shatterproof glass on both front and back and then a rubberized plastic around the edges and it makes for the perfect relationship between phone and hand as it feels unbelievable to hold, although yes it is very large you do get used to a phone that is made from such high quality materials like this is.

Regarding build quality there really isn’t anything to complain about as the Xperia Z feels extremely well built with the only slight downside being its fragility due to the glass exterior. Otherwise though its sturdy, has a nice even weight and Sony can really pat themselves on the back with the build of the device, but with the materials used maybe they could dumb it down a bit on the glass front. Simply because you, as the user will be constantly worrying about dropping or scratching the device and for the price you pay for such a thing I would say that it’s not really worth all of the stress, the iPhone 4 and 4S were prime examples of phones that are very easy to drop and smash into so many pieces due to it being made of glass, so I don’t agree with the design of the Z because of this.

Another point about the glass, although it looks beautiful when it’s sitting in its box before you touch it, once it’s been touched you can never get the thing clean again! It is the worst phone I’ve used for fingerprints ever, the minute you clean it there will be more dirt and fingerprints and this also makes the phone slippery, it reminds me of the plastics that Samsung use, only with glass it is seriously noticeable, this is something that we are meant to be working away from but instead Sony have made it a bigger problem with their flagship of all things.

Another very quick note to make here is why the heck are smartphone manufacturers working their way up in the size department? When you see the Xperia Z for the first time you can be forgiven for mistaking it for a tablet/phablet it’s that large. When you use it you realise just how large it is, and for anyone with smaller than average hands it will be entirely impossible to use the device with one hand. I found it very difficult myself and I would consider myself to have largish hands, so I would expect that a lot of people will be put off by the sheer size of the Z or any other phone that’s got a 5 inch display or above. The one point that I think is very valid with this though is the fact that yes, the Samsung Galaxy Note and Note 2 are fantastic devices and they are too above the 5 inch display mark but they have one defining feature that makes the purchase worthwhile . The S-Pen and this alone has helped Samsung sell millions of the devices so to see a huge phone like the Xperia Z that doesn’t have anything with the ‘WOW factor’ is really quite disappointing. The only feature that this device has that is totally different from other Phablets is the fact that it is IP57 certified meaning that it is water resistant up to 1 metre for 30 minutes and also dust resistant, proof of this will come later in the review.

Display:

Sony were the first company to announce their newest flagship smartphone this year and they were also the first to announce that their phone had a full HD 1080p display.yes I said that right 1080p! I remember being staggered at the quality of the HTC Hero way back in 2009, oh how far we have come since then, Quad-Core processors, 2GB of speedy Ram and now full HD displays. Whatever next? rocket packs to take you to the moon and back on a single charge?

In all seriousness though I have been blown away by the sheer quality of the Z’s display, it really is the best display I have ever seen on a smartphone, it puts Apple’s Retina Display on the iPhone 5 to shame, but only at some viewing angles. I say that because that is the Xperia’s problem, viewing angles are actually awful, unless you are looking directly at the display then the colours look really washed out and dull, which is a dire shame because looking head on at the screen you notice just how good it is and with a 441ppi it’s hard to argue that point. Photos look angelic, videos look magnificent and scrolling through the menus and simply scrolling through Facebook or Twitter are an absolute joy due to the screen. There is one other slight problem though, in direct sunlight of any sort the display performs relatively poorly, when brightness is up to full it is just about readable but anything other than full brightness then it’s barely noticeable at all, I think the reason for this issue is the type of display that Sony have incorporated into the Z, it is a ‘simple’ TFT which compared to other displays such as AMOLED suffers in sunlight but performs really well indoors, it’s a real shame considering the amount of hard earned cash that people have to spend on this phone, but we do live in the wonderful UK so you won’t have direct sunlight that often.

Software:

On the software side Sony has changed quite a lot with the Xperia Z compared with its previous flagship the Xperia T which I reviewed a few weeks ago. I will begin with one of the most obvious changes that they have made to the lock screen. Whereas on the Xperia T you had a swipe from left to right with a camera shortcut if you swiped the opposite way, well on the Xperia Z to unlock the device now you either swipe up or down and you will get a really cool effect that looks a little like when you flick through a pack of cards really quickly, unfortunately because of the software tweaks that Sony have made to Android I was unable to show a screenshot of the effect but the stationary lock screen image is below for you:

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Next on the ‘what’s changed’ list is the home screen set up, here’s where things go downhill for the interface in my opinion and I will attempt to explain my reasons for thinking this as I continue through.

First of all there are the home screens, anyone who knows or has seen/used android before knows that there are customisable home screens, usually 7 but sometimes 5. Well in the Z’s case there is the option to have 5 or 7 with the ability to add/remove home screens as you wish, now I’m an android user that tends to normally use between 1-3 home screens per day because I find the other home screens entirely redundant and more effort than it needs to be to use them. So the way that I review android devices is by settings up my ‘main 3 screens’ and then simply adding the e-mail and calendar widgets to the other 2. The question is why do we need so many home screens that basically do the same thing? Because it really does seem pointless, in my experience a smartphone owner tends to do the same things on their phones most days and they are: browse the web, look at the e-mails, check calendar for appointments etc. and play games/use apps, now correct me if I am wrong but it’s easier to access your apps etc. via the app tray? That’s the way that I see it anyway.

I know that my rant is mainly about android here but there is a clear point to it, the feature of adding/removing home screens is all well and good but why not just choose an amount and stick with it? And there is another rant I have I’m afraid and that is the process of adding a widget or app shortcut to any home screen, it’s so different from what it was on the Xperia T that it’s weird, exhibit a is below along with the home screen set up that I chose while using the device:

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Above is the default amount of home screens when I switched the device on for the first time, setting them up is an absolute piece of cake but the process of adding things to the home screen is just very strange. The first option you have is to drag and drop app shortcuts from the app tray onto the screen, but instead of holding the app and it jumping right to the home screen page to drop it you have to drag it to the top of the page to where it says ‘add to home screen’ then it goes to the home screen page to allow you to place it. Doesn’t that seem like a lot of hard work to do a very simple task? The second way of adding apps/widgets and changing the wallpaper and theme also is by holding onto an empty area of any home screen and the following will appear on screen:

Screenshot_2013-04-16-13-42-01

This is the area where you can also remove and add home screen windows. The process of adding a widget to a home screen on ‘vanilla’ android such as on the nexus 4 or 7 is by opening up the app tray, pressing widgets and then drag/drop onto a home screen as simple as that. But on the Xperia Z you have to add widgets this way, so when you’ve pressed the widgets icon on screen the list of available widgets will appear in the same place, and it’s the same for app shortcuts, themes and wallpapers too.

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I think it is safe to say that I really don’t like what Sony has done with this section of the interface, but having said that it is something that if you owned the device you would happily get used to because I would imagine that not a lot of users would use it as frequently as every day.

The app tray is next on the agenda, this has been changed too but it’s not so bad because at the end of the day an app tray is a place that you access to use apps and games and it’s not something that many will care about to be honest. Anyway it’s changed in a way that is also weird, there is now a box around the apps taking away space on the screen for no apparent reason other than I would imagine to make it distinctively Sony. Anyway here are the screenshots for you guys:

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Keyboard:

I figured that I would buck the trend and talk about the keyboard before I show it in action with this review.

As the Xperia Z has such a large display to play with, you would imagine that the keyboard would be significant as well? Well that statement is half right, in landscape yes it is very large indeed, so large in fact that you are able to see less than 1cm of the typing area so you wouldn’t know for sure if you had made mistakes. In portrait though I would say that rather than large, that it’s the perfect size for the stature of the device because with a nice additional feature it creates a ‘one handed use’ possibility that I didn’t expect to see.

First off though I will mention that there are three variants of the same keyboard available to customise, the first is a ‘plain’ white keyboard with the letters and comma/full stop etc. in other words the typical android keyboard from Sony. The second option is to add the symbol button (shown below) this just makes it easy to smile at someone in a text or Facebook etc. a nice addition, and the final option for the keyboard is to have numbers behind the top row of letter on the keyboard, meaning that if you press and hold the letters then the number will input for you.

I chose the second option as it’s just what I am used to from other devices that I use, the coolest and most functional feature of the keyboard though is a variation of ‘Swype’ which allows you to drag your finger across the keyboard to create words much like the new SwifKey flow and Samsung Swype keyboards. On the Xperia Z I found myself using the function every time I used the keyboard so that should give you some idea of how well it works. The one slightly frustrating thing about the keyboard here is the word suggestion/correction, the reason it is frustrating is due to it not always providing logical word replacements so my text messages in particular ended up looking like they were written by a two year old child (a very bright two year old child though!)

Other than the above issue though the keyboard is brilliant and very fast to input, particularly with Swype.

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Browser:

I will keep this little section short and sweet as we all know what browsing the web is now, I hope so anyway. While this phone is my first of its size that I have had the pleasure of reviewing I have used the Note 2 in a shop and the HTC One X which is 4.7 inches so I had a fair idea what to expect. The thing is though that I was really surprised at how average the browsing experience sometimes was, the default browser is Google’s own Chrome which is installed in the Nexus devices too and is usually really nice to use although not the quickest out there. On the Xperia Z I encountered a lot of up and down moments, and what I mean by this is that sometimes the browsing experience was blazingly fast and on other occasions it was sluggish, and for a change I know that it wasn’t due to my home broadband or the 3G connection because I now have a superfast Fibre Optic connection at home and consistently was getting speeds of 3-5MB download on my O2 sim. On my iPhone 5 the browsing experience is generally really fast on both networks (home and mobile) but the Xperia Z didn’t seem to enjoy being used on the O2 network very much, web pages loaded but it tended to take 30 seconds longer than on the same connection on my iPhone 5 so I’m not sure what to put this experience down to so I will leave that judgement up to you guys.

Other than the up and down performance, browsing using Chrome on the epic display was an absolute joy indeed, the screen real estate really does make for superb browsing on the go, here are some images for you:

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E-Mail:

This is also something I’d like to keep short and sweet, pre-installed are the usual two e-mail apps, the first is the one made by Sony and the other is the Gmail app but for this review I will just show you the Sony app as I am pretty sure that 95% of you will already have seen the Gmail app a thousand times or more.

Here is the app for you first of all:

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The application hasn’t really changed that much from the Xperia T app, apart from a couple of visual tweaks here and there it also works identically, there really isn’t much you can do with an e-mail application if we’re being honest. The app is simple and functional; the one problem I found though is the notifications didn’t always come right away when an e-mail came. An example of this is I have the same e-mail address synchronised on my iPad and the e-mail along with customary ‘ding’ came straight away so this was a little confusing, it’s not the end of the world as usually the mail that I receive is junk anyway! I’m sure you all know the feeling too.

Socialife Application:

In this review I’m not going to bore you with showing you the applications that I have shown you all many times, instead I will show you the unique social app from Sony called Socialife. The basis of this app is to act like a portal for all of your social networking needs such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. it works in a similar way to HTC’s Blinkfeed but instead of it being a mainstay of the OS it is a separate app that you can choose to use or not.

The app is so easy to use and the idea behind it is actually something that I think could work really well but this is an average attempt I am afraid to say. It is so slow to load feeds and then when they do everything looks a little crowded, for example when you choose to view all twitter feed updates only it then takes around 30-40 seconds to load the first few and then a little longer to load the full list. I don’t like the fact that in a modern social app that we still have to press a refresh button to update feeds as on most if not all other apps I’ve used before it’s a simple swipe down to refresh which is much more effective.

The application allows you to either look at all of the updates from anything you’ve logged into or it also allows you to be specific and only look at one feed at a time, I found looking at single feeds a lot easier on the eyes but the experience wasn’t enjoyable really I am afraid to say. Although on Facebook in particular when a picture was posted it did look really cool to see the images sat behind the text instead of having to press to see the picture.

Here it is for you:

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Sony Apps:

As with Samsung devices Sony have incorporated a few of their own applications for users to enjoy. For a couple of them though I think the word enjoy is a stretch, the list of apps pre-installed on the device are: File Commander, smart connect, Sony car, Sony select, update centre, Xperia Link, Track ID and Play Now.

There is literally only a couple of those apps worth even looking at, I’m not trying to be harsh on Sony here but really you have to ask yourself what is the point in all of these apps? I can understand them sticking by Track ID and including the update centre because the Track ID app is really good for identifying new music, and the update centre is pretty good at notifying you of new updates to any of the Sony apps or the actual phone software.

File commander is just a fancy name for file manager and it is the place you look at when you are trying to find any downloaded files from the web or to look for music or movies that you’ve put on it, but other than that everything else can be done in the stock android apps. It does look nice though:

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Next is update centre:

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Sony select is similar to Samsung’s ‘Samsung suggests’ it is basically an app/game suggestion application which really isn’t worth looking at as looking in the Google Play Store is good enough for most users, plus the suggestions generally aren’t worth looking at either. It’s just bloatware I’m afraid, here’s a screenshot for you:

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Play Now is the equivalent of Samsung Apps, it is a place to pay Sony more money for apps, games and music that you can buy from the Google Play Store, don’t see much point in this app either really do you guys feel the same or do you see this as a good thing? I’m seeing it as a bit of a blatant copycat as Samsung has a lot of apps themselves that do the same things as these ones do … just saying.

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The last app I will show you is Sony Car which is the one app that I can definitely pat Sony on the back for, it is similar to HTC’s car app in the same way that when activated you can use it as a phone while connected to Bluetooth and you can listen to music through a Bluetooth audio source also. The main function of the app though is so that you can use the Wisepilot GPS software that Sony bundles with the phone to allow you to have a 5 inch sat nav basically, the app works really well in practical use. I didn’t go anywhere exciting while I had the phone for review just a couple of trips to the shops, and it worked really well while using the Sony car app as opposed to simply using the Wisepilot app on its own as I knew the phone was also connected to my Bluetooth audio on my car. All in all it’s happy days for travellers, businessmen/women and people who like satellite navigation.

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Camera:

The camera is something that I was really excited to use on the Xperia Z because before I received the phone to review I had read many other reviews that stated that the camera was one of the best if not the best feature on the device. So I couldn’t wait to start shooting videos and taking stills with this thing, when I did those things I was really surprised at the quality as it was actually slightly better than I’d previously expected it to be.

Although most of the images I will show you are shot at the highest resolution (12 megapixels) I found that the quality differed quite a lot when I changed the setting to 9 megapixels, as due to the fact that at 12 megapixel resolution the image is a 4:3 ratio as opposed to the 9 megapixel which is a full widescreen 16:9 and I hope that the photos I have taken do show that the 16:9 images look slightly better overall than the 12.

Here are a couple of images show at 12 megapixels with superior auto switched on, this is a feature that I really liked during testing because it is a clever function that changed everything from the white balance to the focus mode and even the scene mode that the photo will be taken at depending on the different conditions etc..

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And here are a couple of 9 megapixel shots for you also both shot with superior auto function switched on as well, the second picture was shot in low light with flash switched on:

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Overall I’ve been really impressed with the performance of the camera but what has also impressed me is how much thought and effort Sony have put into making the camera as competitive as possible in the mobile marketplace, I mean yes there is an argument that when zoomed into the images they seem quite grainy but for a smartphone today not many people care about how an image looks when zoomed in, all most people care about (me included again) is how the image is represented generally and I think that you will agree with me on this that the above photos look really nice?

Moving on now to the camera interface, just so that I can show you a little glimpse at the amount of features available to the user in this tiny area of the phone.

I think that rather than me jabbering on about what each feature does and how it is useful to you, is show you the images below and allow you to decide for yourselves whether it’s worth investigating what they all do.

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As you can see there are quite a few different options to explore, but what I will talk about is HDR mode. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and the basis of what this feature does is it captures you a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image. Below is an example of what I mean, and I will let you decide for yourselves which one is with HDR on:

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Other features also include a fantastic Panorama shooting mode and also a decent burst mode, the type of which we saw on the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X last year but on the Xperia Z it seems as though you can keep holding the on screen shutter button and it will continue to take burst mode photos, the quality lacks a little as it seems that the images aren’t quite at full resolution.

Here are a couple of Panorama shots for you, note that they don’t always turn out perfect as they can, at times show a little line where the image hasn’t quite knitted together fully but it’s hardly noticeable really.

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As well as HDR being a feature for still images, Sony has done something quite brilliant with the Z and added it as a feature for video recording too! And let me tell you that the results are simply brilliant, HDR mode for video makes the video seem more ‘real life’.

Here are a couple of sample Full HD videos for you, the first one is without HDR mode and the second is with HDR mode:

Xperia Sample Video

Sample 2

Media:

We all know that Apple have the monopoly when it comes to audio playback with their long line of iPods/iPhones and iPads but before Apple came along Sony were the kings of MP3 players with their Walkman’s, I should know as I owned lots of them! And with the Xperia Z you get a Walkman music player which, with a good set of headphones creates an absolutely fabulous listening experience that is on par with Apple’s iPods easily! There I said it.I am being deadly serious though because when I was listening to my music through my own headphones I went into a complete world of my own, and I will be honest I’ve only ever done that with great music players (iPods and my iPhone) so that’s a compliment in itself.

Enough about that anyway let’s get onto why it’s so good shall we?

Listening to music on the Xperia Z is so easy, in fact it’s the best thing about having an Android device in my opinion, you can simply connect to a PC or Laptop and drag and drop your songs/albums onto the device and you are ready to go. The music player is actually very basic but I quite liked that about it, it’s a no strings attached kind of player that focuses solely on providing users with a fantastic music listening experience, and to that it does it very well indeed.

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You will notice the artwork in the far right image? Well this appears when you add a song or album along with the album art, or also when you activate the Track ID app then it will find the album information for you, or you could just do a search on the internet for the artwork of course and then it’s a simple download.

I will also mention the ClearAudio+ function that you see in the final image, this is the feature to beat all features because when switched on it makes listening to music absolute bliss as the clarity is so good, I can compare it to when Beats audio is activated one a HTC One product it is that good!

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Moving on now to video playback, this is something that I was very much looking forward to only to find that when I introduced the phone to a HD video file that it didn’t like it very much at all. The image was very fuzzy, it was playing back as it would on a television but the image was simply awful from a viewer’s perspective, this was the same with 5-6 different episodes of various TV shows in HD and it just didn’t enjoy playing them, to which end I was extremely disappointed indeed. The players that I used were the stock Play Movies, Sony’s Movies app and also VLC player Beta and all played the videos back in the same way so I figured that it must be the phone and not the video as the videos played absolutely great on my HD TV, just very odd indeed.

Other than that problem though YouTube playback was absolutely fantastic once again, HD quality playback was brilliant, and to be honest there isn’t much more that can be said on that. I’ve been very impressed.

Gallery:

There isn’t much that can be said about a gallery that hasn’t already been said before but I did think that it would be a good idea for you guys to see it anyway. The gallery on the Z is actually really cool, it lays your images out in a ‘most recent’ order which is the logical order to put images in I suppose. You are able to change this at the simple press of a couple of buttons but I didn’t really see the point.

There is a very cool function called SendMe slideshow which has two main functions within it. The first function is that you can play a simple slideshow on the device itself or you could ‘Throw’ the slideshow to a wireless enabled device such as a PC, Laptop or a Wi-Fi HD TV. Throw is Sony’s terms for Bluetooth sharing of images, music and videos from device to device and it does this via its built in media server function but the issue with this when I had the phone was that I just could not get the damn thing to work with my TV, so I couldn’t tell you whether it worked well or not because it simply didn’t work at all.

Screenshot_2013-04-16-14-08-24Screenshot_2013-04-16-14-08-35Screenshot_2013-04-16-14-08-52Screenshot_2013-04-16-14-08-59

Call/Signal Quality/Wi-Fi strength:

Sometimes us smartphone users can find it easy to forget that you can actually make phone calls, simply because phones calls are fast becoming a ‘so last year’ feature on phones now that we have Skype and Viber for free calls and video calls too. Having said that though when I was using the Xperia Z I think I received more phone calls than in any other review that I’ve done! I don’t have a clue why but it reckon I had at least 20 calls which is the maximum amount that I will ever get, sometimes I only get that many in a whole month!

Anyway the call quality whilst on these calls differed slightly nearly every time, mostly this was dependant on how loud I had the in call volume set to really. The reason for this is when the person I was talking to spoke at all, even if they weren’t being at all loud then the phone would almost vibrate slightly at the back where my hand was, this made the calls uncomfortable for me as I was constantly hearing the other person but also the reverberation from the back of the phone. The quality itself was only OK as well, signal could have been the difference between a good call and a bad call but I don’t think this was the reason all of the time, the problem could be any number of things but I’m going to put it down to the earpiece being a little underneath the edge of the phone as opposed to being right at the ear, so during it is 1-uncomfortable on the ear because of the harsh edge and 2-not as clear as it would be if the earpiece was directly next to my ear. I am slightly disappointed with this Sony.

The signal on the phone while using my own personal O2 pay monthly sim card did fluctuate quite a lot during use, an example of this happening was when I was sat in Costa having a coffee while browsing the web and usually on my iPhone 5 I have a solid three bars of 3G signal with fluctuation being a rarity, but on the Xperia Z the signal was up and down nearly all of the time which as you can imagine did impact on the browser performance considerably, this is also not good Sony and I do think that the Glass is most of the problem here as the iPhone 4 and 4S suffered from the same sort of issue if I recall.

As well as having 2G/3G problems I found also that Wi-Fi wasn’t as stable as it probably should be, in my house we have the main hub upstairs and then a secondary hub to extend the network down in my bedroom, now this works perfectly on every device that I own but the Xperia Z just did not enjoy keeping Wi-Fi signal whatsoever, I have a fibre optic connection also so buffering YouTube videos is also a rarity but with this device I was rarely able to watch a video without it buffering constantly! This was so annoying to me, and imagine if someone paid £500 and got this problem? I’m not saying that all Xperia Z phones will have this problem so I am suggesting checking before buying that Wi-Fi is stable in the shop, it could just be that this is a review device so it’s possibly nothing to worry about.

Battery Life and Performance:

The Sony Xperia Z is something of a powerhouse when it comes to sheer performance specifications, it consists of a 1.5Ghz Quad-Core Processor and 2GB of Speedy RAM, so you would expect the benchmark scores to be well up the list of high end devices yes? Well that statement is mostly true as yes the phone performs very well most of the time it does suffer with heavy 3D graphics such as Real Racing 3 or Dead Trigger. At the time of review the Z came third in the AnTuTu list of devices which consists of the Nexus 4 and Galaxy S4 so it’s a very good device indeed!

I took the liberty of running two different programs to try and give a varied review of the performance; I used AnTuTu Benchmark and Quadrant Standard both of which are below:

Screenshot_2013-04-16-14-33-20Screenshot_2013-04-16-14-35-28

Now to the battery life, there isn’t much that I can say really as it is much like any other high end power hungry smartphone to date; it lasted no more than a full day with light to medium usage and no more than 8 hours with heavy usage. There are a couple of software features that make preserving battery life a little easier but I didn’t tend to use them much really as I tend to top up my phones juice when I am not using it. This is something that I would actually recommend with a high end device as more often than not your battery with have a longer and healthier life if you never let it deplete completely. Overall the battery performance on the Xperia Z was around average, but with the software tweaks to enhance the length of time the phone lasts on one charge I would imagine that you could get a little more out of it.

Screenshot_2013-04-16-14-04-56

Conclusion:

The bottom line with the Sony Xperia Z ladies and gentlemen is that it is a very powerful, very large smartphone with software that you either love or hate, it has a beautiful display that suffers slightly in sunlight and at certain angles, but overall I think that if anyone bought this phone that they would be extremely proud of their purchase and would have little regret over spending the cash for it.

I have seriously enjoyed my time with this phone and hope that is reflected in the review.

Review by: Chris

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: , ,

About the Author:

A tech reviewer for 4 years, I have a great passion for mobile phones specifically but review a vast array of technology.
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