After getting separated with Ericson, Sony has provided several amazing smartphones under their successful flagship ‘Xperia’ series. In the year 2013, their first smartphone to launch under Xperia series was “Xperia Z” which is also said to be the best of Sony until they launched the Xperia ZR. Since Samsung launched Galaxy Note with large 5.5 inch display, there was like a norm of 5 inch display smartphones in the market which is also known as a ‘Phablet’, bit larger than a Phone and bit smaller than a Tablet. In order to make a strong mark in phablets, Sony launched this Xperia Z with 5-inch Full HD Reality display. With sleek and stylish attractive design and of course packed with features, Xperia Z is the strongest competitors for other high end devices available in the market such as HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4.
Just the screen doesn’t makes the device thread for those other high end smartphones, it is even powered packed enough. With Android 4.1 JellyBean OS, Xperia Z is powered with 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm APQ 8064 processor and 2GB of Ram that offers smooth and lag free performance with better multitasking whereas the integrated Adreno 320 GPU makes it even powerful enough for running any HD video games. Xperia Z is also the device for photography fans as it comes with 13 Megapixel rear as well as 2.2 Megapixel front facing camera. Both cameras are capable to record HD videos. So far the configuration looks very similar to its competitor devices as mentioned above. The device is running on 2330 mAh battery which however is weaker than the 3100 mAh battery used in Galaxy Note 2 but we will how long the device work later in this review in battery section. Over all Sony has worked hard on Xperia Z to make it the best in the market at reasonable rate of Rs. 38,000 (However you can get it upto Rs. 36,850 from Flipkart at discounted rate). Most of all it is a Waterproof and Dust resistance built smartphone which allows you to use the device under water, in swimming pool, rain, or anywhere without any hesitation.
Is the device really worth for the price or to beat Galaxy S4 or HTC One? Let’s find it out by testing the device deeply but before that, let’s have a look at its highlights:
- Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to Android 4.2
- 5-inch Full HD Reality display with mobile Bravia Engine 2
- 1920×1080 pixels resolutions
- 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm APQ 8064 processor with 2GB RAM and Adreno 320 GPU
- 13 MP camera with LED Flash and Exmor RS sensor, 2.2 MP 720p front-facing camera
- Water and Dust Resistant (IP55 and IP57)
- 16GB internal memory, expandable memory up to 64GB with microSD
- 4G LTE / 3G, WiFi 820.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC
- 2330 mAh battery
Design, Body and keys:
Without any physical buttons in front back, Xperia Z looks quite attractive with full Black packing. Measuring 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm and weighing just 146 grams, the device is light and easy to carry with comfortable grip. Unlike any other devices, here we have shatterproof glass both in front and the back. No matter it has glasses on the both side we dint found it slippery even with wet hands. Body is surrounded with plastic material with curved edges and solid finish. It is as stylish as easy to hold. Some people may find it difficult if they have small hands but if you have ever used Galaxy Note devices, then there is no problem. However, compared to Galaxy S4, Xperia Z is bit bigger but that doesn’t matters as you get a bigger screen as well. As the device is water proof all its ports are blocked with a cover. Hence you will require opening the covers if you want to use headphones, USB cable or for removing and inserting SD Card or Sim card. There is no physical Home button, no camera Shutter button, etc. You have to do everything from the screen itself. Let’s find out how the buttons and ports are placed on the device.
On the front of the device don’t have any button as I said above. It’s just a Bravia Engine 2 powered 5-inch Full HD screen with Sony logo on the top of the display accompanied with 2.2 MP front camera on the left and LED indicator on the right that blinks when you have any notifications or while charging.
On the Top we have a 3.5mm headphone jack which is covered with flap to protect it from water. While at the bottom we have nothing but the device’s serial number.
On the right side of the body we find a circular power button which is also used as the screen lock key. Just below we have Volume up/down key. And above the power button we have Sim Card slot covered with Flap.
While on the left side of the device we have Micro USB port and MicroSD Card slot, again covered with water protective flaps.
While on the rear side of the device we get a 13 Megapixel camera with LED flash and a MIC with Xperia logo at the middle of the body.
Overall Xperia Z has attractive and stylish design with solid finishing. The device remained successful in Drop test, Water Test and even in 130 degree chocolate test. So you can imagine how durable Xperia Z can be. Thanks to the build material Sony has used to make the device. We will talk about its Screen technology and durability but first let’s check what all accessories we get in the box with phone.
Accessories in the box:
With the Xperia Z box we get a wired stereo hands free, two sets of earbuds, a MicroUSB cable, a Charger where you need to attach the provided USB cable for charging the device, a manual, an extra screen guard and the Xperia Z handset itself.
Screen / Display:
Sony Xperia Z comes with a 5 inch Full HD Reality touch screen display powered with mobile Bravia Engine 2. We have seen few more Sony smartphones with 5-inch display but the one used in this device is better than all. It offers the FULL HD 1920 × 1080 pixels resolution which is equivalent to full HD flatscreen TV. To make it much brighter, sharper and better display it has 441ppi which is the same we get from Samsung Galaxy S4 display. If we compare it with iPhone 5 with 324ppi we are better but compared to HTC One it is bit less compared to its 469ppi. Anyways, with 441ppi density Xperia Z provide you crystal clear viewing experience from any angle, no matter you are watching videos, pictures, playing games, browsing web or reading EBooks, you will love to do all on this display.
Apart from the HD resolution and high PPI, the company’s own Bravia Engine 2 technology makes the screen much better by bringing more saturation to colours and enhancing your multimedia files. However, if you don’t like it or don’t want the Bravia Engine, you can turn it off any time by going to Settings > Display. Now the question arises here is durability of the screen as we have not mentioned anywhere about if it is protected with Gorilla Glass. Nope, Xperia Z doesn’t comes with Gorilla glass protection, then how the screen can survive drop test? This is the question, right? It is because of the Asahi DragonTrail Glass which is thicker, lighter and harder than Gorilla Glasses. Infact this glass is the biggest thread for Corning Gorilla market because of its protection power. FYI, Dragontrail glasses can survive upto 64kgs before breaking. So now you can imagine how protected the display is. So with Durable waterproof and dust resistance body, you also have a powerful, brighter, sharper and durable display as well with Xperia Z.
Operating System and UI:
Sony Xperia Z comes with Android 4.1 Jellybean operating system. However this can be upgraded Android 4.2 very soon. Infact today Sony has already started rolling out official 4.2 Jellybean update with version number 10.3.A.0.423. This update is now available for five countries including Spain, Ukraine, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Netherlands and may get soon to other countries as well. Obviously the new update will bring several new features and customizations options but as of now with 4.1 JB, the device still rocks. The operating system is well optimized with the Xperia UI to offer super smooth performance. However few things has still remained like its earlier Xperia devices such its lock screen still offers access to only Notifications Bar, Camera and Music Player. However the lock screen provides better visual blind effect compared to the earlier phones.
Sony has not made many changes in the Notification but they have worked hard to provide several new widgets and few enhancements in the user interface using which you can make your home and other screen more attractive. Adding widgets to the screen is now bit similar to the one we see in HTC Sense. When you pinch the display it brings up a small editing screen with widgets, shortcuts, apps, themes etc at the bottom of the display like we have in HTC device with Sense 4 or higher. This was not how we use to get the widgets in earlier Xperia devices. After pinching the display, browse through the widgets, just tap any of them to set on the screen. As we said that there is no physical buttons on the display like Home key we use to have in other smartphones, with Xperia Z when you unlock the screen you get a Black bar at the bottom including Back, Home and Multitask key. When you tap the last key it brings up a bar showing all your opened Apps. Just tap the same and switch comfortably. This makes the multitasking much easier. Isn’t it again very similar to the one we have in HTC Sense? Yes, it is but not as good as HTC Sense v4 or v5.
Overall the Xperia UI and Android 4.1 is well optimized to provide better performance and better customization options. They have embedded several useful apps as well like new redesigned Walkman Music Player, Video Player, DLNA streaming, Playstation Store, etc. We will about these and all other pre-loaded applications in details later in this review. As of now Xperia Z is as good with the software as its build Material and configuration, and I am sure it may give you hundreds of more reason to buy the device once it is updated with Android 4.2.
Processor, RAM, GPU:
Sony Xperia Z comes with power packed specification including 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core CPU and 2GB RAM. This is the same specification which we have seen on Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone. With such powerful CPU and high RAM the device works smooth, lag free without freeze. Application response time is very low and you can open as many as apps you want in the background, there won’t be any problem working with any opened apps. Sony has also included a Adreno 320 GPU which allows you to run almost any HD video game on the device. We ran few benchmarking test as well where Xperia Z scored quiet impressive results along with 30fps in the GLBenchmark for gaming test. However, though being the same specs as Nexus 4, Xperia Z scored a bit less than the same. You can see the results below in the Benchmarking section.
With such better configuration I dint faced any problem during testing the device over a week, however i noticed some heating issue at the rear of the device while playing games continuously for about 10 minutes. This use to be normal but with better specifications, we expect more, right? Anyways, the overheating happened only with games, I dint faced any such problem while using the device for browsing, chatting or watching videos unless you are streaming online. Over all you can use any heavy application, play any HD game or do multitasking hassle free on Xperia Z. This is the one of the few fastest smartphones available today in the market.
Atutu Benchmark Results
Quadrant Benchmark Results
Multimedia and Gaming:
We already know that Sony has been the best in Sound Quality since its Sony Ericson Walkman series of smartphones. They have brought back the Walkman again in Xperia Z. You get the best sound quality with the provided stereo handsfree and xLOUD integration. The device offers loud and clear sound with usual graphic equalizers. There are few options available under device’s sound settings such as Clear Phrase, Surround Sound, Clear Sterio, Dynamic Normaliser and Xloud which can be turned off and on according to your preference. Furthermore the Walkman app also allows you to do DLNA streaming. You can share your music and other contents over Media server and enjoy the same on another device.
As far as Video Player is concerned, you can enjoy Full HD videos with clear, sharp and better picture quality. No matter what the file format is or what the file size is, Xperia Z is capable to play all videos comfortably. Infact you can share the content over DLNA or Media Server and enjoy your mobile movie on large 40inch HDTV or a Screen Projector over WiFi or Bluetooth. Playback is very smooth and lag free allowing you to watch every pixel of the video. They have also provided the Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 under Display settings to which can be turned On/Off anytime but I will recommend keeping it turned on whenever you are watching entertainment files or playing games. This will enhance the picture quality for better fun.
Sony has even re-designed the Photo gallery in Xperia Z. As the device comes with 13 megapixel camera you will surely like to capture all your favorite moments and these pictures means you lot, right? The gallery application organizes your photos on its own in different ways for example date wise, its location, and so on. You can see it in the image below. Sony has also integrated Picasa, Facebook and Sony’s own PlayMemories service with the gallery so that you can have all your online images as well right on your device. In order to offer better experience of viewing your photos, the gallery comes built-in with “SenseMe Slideshow” which helps you to watch your videos in slideshow with Music and transition effects. You can do this right away by selecting SlideMe from the gallery options. It also offers you options to change the transition effects and Music. Note, this is just for watching the pictures in slideshow, you cannot burn it like movie maker. Apart from this, just like Movies and Music, you can also enjoy your Pictures on large screen like TV or Projector by sharing it right away on Media Sever.
With 1.5GHz Snapdragon Quad-Core, 2GB RAM and Andreno 320 GPU no Android Games should be difficult to run on this device. We tested few HD Games like Shadow Guardian and Backstab HD, few mid ranged games like Real Racing 3 and Dead Trigger and some standard games like Manuganu and Stick Cricket; they all ran fine without any problem. However few games like Gangstar Rio: City of Saints, Gangster Vegas or The Dark Knight Rises were not able to run. Some of these were showing up as ‘Not Compatible’ while some were not able to run even after downloading the cache files. I don’t understand what could be the problem, also not confirmed whether the problem was with just our unit. Furthermore Xperia Z id also PlayStation Mobile citified. Which means you can play few of the games on Mobile as well which are available on PlayStation Store. Once downloaded on the phone, you can mirror the display on large screen TV and enjoy your game on the TV via smartphone. Good news is that Sony keeps offering some free games as well, just keep your eyes open.
As I said above, Xperia Z can also be a great choice for Photography Fans because of its amazing 13 Megapixel rear camera. Powered with Exmor RS sensor the 13Mp camera comes with LED Flash capable to record videos in Full HD 1080p quality. As per image, it captures a high quality image with 3920 x 2204 pixel resolution. You can also increase this upto 3920 x 2940 pixel from the camera settings. There is also a 2.2 Megapixel front facing camera which allows you to do Video calling and conferencing in HD 720p video quality. Capturing images from the Xperia Z camera was a fun. You get the best quality images in day light or any environment with better lights. However capturing indoor as well is good enough but obviously it cannot be as good as the one we can have out door. In video recording you can shoot at full HD resolution at 30 frames per second. Personally I was amazed to see the output quality of both images and videos.
There are several interesting features and settings provided with the camera which can make your shooting much better and fun as well. The one I found best is the “smile shutter” option. Once turned on from the camera settings, it will keep capturing the pictures until you keep smiling. This can be further changed to small smile, Average Smile and Big Smile. Another interesting feature I found with Xperia Z is its Camera Quick launch setting. You can change the behavior of camera while launching for example, you can change it to launch and Capture image directly, launch and Record video directly, launch and don’t do anything (like we use to have in all smartphones), etc. This could be useful if you are a journalist and want to capture something suddenly. There are lots more such useful settings like self timer, enabling touch capturing by touching the screen anywhere like we use to have in Galaxy devices, you can disable shutter sounds and few more.
Now coming to Camera features, we get Sweep Panorama, Burst Mode, Scene Selection, Picture Effects, stabilizer HDR, and lots more which will help you to enhance your Pictures to some extent. With Scene Selection select options like Soft Skin, Soft Snap, Anti Motion Blur, Backlight HDR, Night Portrait, etc. This can be used in both Pictures as well as in Videos. With Picture effects, you get different kind of lenses such as Fisheye, Sketch, Kaleidscope, etc. There are lots more settings to do with each of these options. Though the camera is quite smart to provide you a high quality images and videos, you will have to learn the settings by spending few hours to enhance your captures and shooting further. However, there is one separate mode called “Superior Auto”.
I recommend keeping your camera under this mode because it automatically analyzes the situation and adjusts exposure accordingly. Which means you don’t need to do the settings manually depending on the environment, simply select the “Superior Auto” and let the camera do the required changes on its own. If we compare the camera with competitors like Galaxy S4 or HTC One, surely Xperia lacks the features we get in those devices but at its own, you have one of the best camera smartphone.
With optimized operating system and company’s own UI, Sony has optimized the device and embedded their own several applications. The very first thing is the Playstation Mobile that allows you to play Playstation games on your Mobile or on HDTV via mobile. Apart from this we get trail version of OfficeSuite with the device along with File Commander which is a file explorer application. With Xperia Z we also get a free subscription of McAfee Antivirus. Other pre-loaded applications include Chrome, Facebook, Socialife, NeoReader, SmartConnect, Wisepilot for Xperia, Sony Music, Sony Liv, Foneclay, etc.
Apart from these I found few applications very useful with the device such as Backup and Restore. This is a pre-loaded application by the manufacturer itself that allows you to Backup the entire phone including System Apps data, Multimedia Files and all downloaded applications with data on your Memory card safely. This is what we actually do using PC Suite but thanks to this built-in application, you don’t need a computer neither PC Suite. Simply backup the phone right on the go and save the backup on your memory card or external USB drive. If anything goes wrong with the device you can restore back the file anytime without losing any important data.
Another useful app provided with the device is Car Mode. This is a must have application for people who drive frequently. We have already seen it in few high end devices like Lumia 920, HTC One X+, etc. We also get the same with Xperia Z that allows easy access to Dialer/contacts, Music Player, Location, Maps, Settings, etc. You can also add few more apps as per your preference to the Car Mode screen which you use frequently.
If you love playing with Music and Videos, you have few more application where you can do much more with your multimedia files. I’m talking about applications like Track ID, Movie Studio, and X4 Video Player. TrackID is useful when you want to find out Artist Info and other details of any song. Just play the song and tap the TackID button, it will search, locate and give you entire detailed information about those tracks. As far as Movie Studio is concerned, it is a kind of Movie Maker application which we use on Windows computers. You can select a set of images, videos and Music and create a Movie right on the go. Once done, you can even export this movie in Full HD 1920 x 1080p quality which can be later played of large screen monitors or Television. Similarly with X4 video Player you can play four videos at a time on your screen but the sound will appear only from the video you tap. This will be fun for doing some kind of remix.
Apart from these applications we get all default Google application like Hangout, Gmail, Playstore, Play Movies, Play Books, Google search, Google Now, etc. Google Now can be accessed any time by swiping up from the Home button of the device.
Connectivity and Storage:
Xperia Z comes with 16GB Built-in storage which is quite enough for storing thousands of music and Pictures along with few HD Movies. But still if you feel shortage, you can expand the memory upto 64GB using microSD. If we compare the storage stuff with competing devices like HTC One, Xperia Z stands tall as HTC One doesn’t have any external memory slot. So we have better storage solution with this smartphone. As far as connectivity is concerned, Xperia Z offers you 4G LTE / 3G, WiFi 820.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC. It was a great fun browsing on this device connected on 3G or WiFi. No matter which website you want to browse, it loads fine and offers you desktop type browsing experience with you clear texts. It is fast and smooth.
Apart from these standard connectivity options you can also connect USB on the Go. With the help of OTG you can connect several hardware with your Xperia Z smartphone like Keyboard, Mouse, Playstation Joystick, and much more. Apart from this you can do screen mirroring of the phone device with other large screen computers and HD TVs over WiFi or Bluetooth. There are lots more to do under Settings > Xperia. If you have other Sony products/accessories, you will never want to switch from Xperia Z.
Sony Xperia Z is running on 2330 mAh battery which is bit higher from HTC One’s 2300 mAh battery but bit lesser than Galaxy S4’s2600 mAh. However, during the test of 10 days I was very impressed with its battery backup. I used the device as both Average and hardcore users for few days but the results were quite good. When I was using Xperia Z only on 2G for 2 days for Facebook Chatting, WhatsApp, WeChat, little Music and other basic stuffs, the battery came 100% to 10% even after two days of use. Later when I used the same on 3G and WiFi for HD gaming, lots of videos, lots of Music, Video streaming, browsing and lots more, still the battery took over 12 hours to come down from 100 to 10%. According to these results I can say that Xperia Z also stands tall in battery backup solution and would be good choice for you if you are a frequent traveler or don’t get time to recharge the phones.
Furthermore, Sony has provided few settings as well to enhance the battery backup. When you go to Settings > Power Management, you will get three important options to increase your battery life. It includes, STAMINA Mode which automatically disables Mobile data to prevent the battery consumption when your screen is Off. Second is Low Battery Mode, this disables all battery consuming apps and functions and saves the battery upto 30%. Very useful when you are running out of the battery. And the third is Location Based WiFi. We know that keeping the WiFi turned On consumes lots of battery in searching for connection when you are out of your saved wifi access points. Once this option is enabled, you no more need to keep your wifi turned on. Simply disable the same because when you come back to the range of your Saved WiFi access point, your device WiFi will be turned on automatically and connects the network. I still don’t carry the charger along with me when I leave the home in morning because I am pretty sure the device will work even after I return to home.
In 2013 we got three high end devices so far that can rule the market which are Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and Xperia Z. All these devices are strong competitor with each other because of their powerful configuration like the one we have in Xperia Z such as 1.5GHz Quad Core processor, 2GB of RAM and Andreno 320 GPU. But the reason why Xperia Z stands tall of these devices is its durability. No matter Drop test, water test, 130 degree hot chocolate test, Xperia Z has passed them all successfully. Even if compare them in terms of cost, Galaxy S4 comes at Rs. 39,500, HTC One comes at Rs. 43,500 while Xperia Z is available at Rs. 36,850. Yeah, cheaper than them. Another reason that makes the device worth is its 5 inch HD display with Full HD resolution and 441ppi. I can say it a perfect display for Multimedia and Gaming purpose.
There are also several important features, connecting settings, Media Server, Playstation Mobile, and 13 Megapixel camera with so many image enhancement features which can make you buy the device. Also you can enjoy the device under water, in rain or swimming pool hassle free. It offers smooth performance, better multitasking, and better gaming performance with so many customization options. Overall I can say if you are looking for a durable high end smartphone at the reasonable Price, Sony Xperia Z is the one which must be considered first.
• Sleek design, comfortable grip and better material used
• Sharper and brighter Full HD display
• Waterproof and Dust Resistant packaging.
• Smooth performance and multitasking with better UI
• 13Mp camera with 1080p Full HD recording
• Useful pre-loaded apps
• Impressive battery life.
• Fingerprints on the display.
• Front camera not so good indoors