Sony Xperia Z – big can be beautiful

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Sony’s latest is a powerhouse phone which runs like a breeze and has a great screen and good battery life – but it does have design niggles, including a mammoth screen that looks strange on calls

The Xperia Z looks both great and bizarre at the same time. The exterior is a slim, black (or white or purple) tablet vaguely resembling Space Odyssey markers, with no physical buttons on its five-inch screen and measuring 139mm x 71mm.

It does help the phone differentiate itself from other black monoliths, but the device is just too big to hold comfortably when making a call.

Calls and Skype conversations can also come across muffled due to a speaker’s apparent location at the bottom right side of the phone – just where you hold it to take a call if you’re right-handed.

The power button is an odd protruding circle – odd because the rest of the phone is so sleek and the power button just looks ugly. A hard casing (the front and back are tempered glass) which makes it scratch and shatter proof – which our testing also backs up. It stood up to the general wear and tear of life, although it wasn’t immune to a scuff here or there.

The Xperia is a sleek-looking phone, despite these niggles. It’s very thin (7.9mm) and light (146g) and, along with its cover colour detail, helps differentiate it somewhat.

Water, water everywhere
As it is water and dust resistant, each plug has a protective tab you have to remove. These worked fine and slotted into place pretty seamlessly but still felt a bit fragile – could be a problem with wearing out and ripping off for more rugged users.

Dunking the Xperia into a jug of water worked a charm and the phone came out as good as new.

Where the phone really looks good, though, is on its screen. Sony has, quite rightly, emphasised the screen quality, describing it as razor-sharp. For once, this is not marketing hyperbole – this is a fantastic screen.

The Xperia boasts 1,920×1,080 pixels resolution, for a whopping great 443 pixels per inch density – far above rivals. Colours pop, fine detail is superfine and in all, viewing things on the Xperia is a joy. On a test run of movies, colours were clear, detail was particularly fine and the phone handled black reasonably well – a problem the Xperia T used to have.

Hard-wearing hardware
The Xperia Z runs the latest Android, 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. It runs a grunty Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, quad core Krait at 1.5GHz, with a healthy 2GB RAM. Needless to say, this phone is oozing raw power – what you need done gets done. It has 16GB on-board storage (expandable to 32GB with a microSD card).

The phone handled any tasks thrown at it, although playing movies saw it heat up slightly around the back. Aside from that, it didn’t have any troubles.

The Xperia Z is also 4G LTE-enabled so if you’re running 4G on EE (or the other networks later in the year), you will be able to get high-speed data and browsing. Sony have also made a big deal about its NFC capabilities, which will allow you to interact with any other Sony product – such as speaker systems, TVs and the soon-to–be-launched Xperia Tablet Z. You can throw music with a tap, clone your phone screen on your TV and even use it as a remote (it has infrared built in).

Full article in Mobile News issue 536 (April 8, 2013).

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