Channel 5

Sony Xperia Z

Monday 18 February 2013


Rating of 3

The basics

With the Sony Xperia Z, Sony’s gone all out to catch up with rivals like Samsung and Apple. On paper at least, it’s pulled it off: this Android phone is a beast. It’s packing a huge thirteen megapixel sensor and a five-inch, full HD screen, and underneath beats a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, support for 4G downloads speeds and a beefy 2GB of memory. Oh, and it’s entirely waterproof. Is that an extra plus point or just a bit pointless? Let’s find out.

Read our full HTC One review here

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The good

We’ve always had a soft spot for Sony’s design - that obsession with black plastic and solid straight lines that somehow has come to embody design from the Japanese gadget giant.

And while last year’s flagship Xperia S was just a bit too thick to compete, there’s no such problem here: this slick slab is just 7.9mm deep. Its large size isn’t for everyone - iPhone owners especially will struggle to adjust - but if you’ve been using one of the new breed of giant smartphones we’ve seen emerge over the last year, you’ll be fine.

(Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Sony’s claims that the Xperia Z is waterproof hold true: we completely submerged ours in a bowl of water for 20 minutes, and it came out the other end just fine.)

Smartly, Sony has worked the Android navigation buttons (home, back and multi-tasking) right into the screen, as Google does on the Nexus devices. It works well and makes the phone seem even more monolithic when turned off. That screen, disappointing compared to its new rivals otherwise, is some what made up for by the shots the 13MP camera is capable of. They’re packed with detail - particularly impressive given how thin the Xperia Z is.

On the software front, Sony’s tweaked Android 4.1, but for once, we actually like the changes that have been made to Google’s open source operating system. It’s blindingly fast, easy to use and stuffed full of handy extras - we particularly like the widgets you can pop on the screen (and not just the homescreen either), like a one touch voice recorder.

Sony also seems to have finally figured out that fans don’t enjoy turning on their phone to find it full of spammy apps you can’t delete: there’s just pointless satnav app Wisepilot here and you can remove it straight away (Do so, and use Google Maps instead).

The bad

Fair warning: while we like it, you might hate the design. If you prefer the sleek curves of the HTC One X’ chassis, the boxy look of the Xperia Z may be the very opposite of what you’re after. Added to that is the display - it's HD, yes, but it pales in comparison to the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 panels, which produce richer colours and offer wider viewing angle.

The waterproof doors also add some unnecessary clutter: if you don’t think you’re likely to take your phone swimming anytime soon, you might hate the extra fuss of having to prise open a flap every time you need to put it on to charge.

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The bottom line

The Sony Xperia Z is a coming of age for Sony Mobile. For the first time, the company’s proved it can truly kick it with the big boys, with top notch specs and a top quality camera. The size will be a bit on the excessive side for some, especially without the stylus skills of the Samsung Galaxy Note, and the lack of Android 4.2 at launch will be a blow for those who like to live on the cutting edge of tech. If you’re a longtime Sony fan with a passion for its black box design, you’ll love it - it's just a shame the screen can't quite match its new rivals for quality.

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User comments (17)

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Finally! A review that barely mentions Apple products! Yay!

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I have had the phone 2weeks and it does everything and it's so smooth it just rocks and I can watch films in the bathtub voodoo thumbs up from me g-man

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James Ward

I have had HTC for years but poor battery life on all of them has finally forced me to start looking elsewhere. Its either this phone or the Galaxy S4 for me. Looking forward to the full review of the S4 and then Ill decide :)

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I've had mine for about 2 weeks: I have to agree about the flaps over the sockets - they're fiddly. I appreciate why they are there, but they're still a pain. Viewing angle on the screen is not great (it's OK - just not great) Fingerprints - OHMYGOD - carry some cleaning wipes with you everywhere unless you want to look like you're using a grease-trap charcoal filter. Battery life: Pretty good, especially with stamina mode enabled. Some apps don't like the hi-res screen - for example, CoPilot Satnav (as of 20th March 2013) is all over the place and needs an update (not yet available) to work properly. Speaker - it's on the bottom of the right side and easily covered by your hand if ou're holding the phone and listening to music - a really stupid design Power button - it's on the middle of the right side and not easy to get to when the phone's in a car dock, so if the phone locks (say, after you've taken a call) and you want to get back to your satnav app (when it works properly!), you have to take the phone out of the dock to press the button - or install an app that wakes up the phone when you wave near the proximity sensor - there's a few on the Play store. Overall: Meh - it's a large phone. I really prefer my Samsung Galaxy Note.

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I love this Xperia Z, this phone is big, i like small phone but this is so good, hand up to sony for this phone. by the away guys this comment is from a women, if i was you, go and get it and you will not be disappointed forget the iphone and the Xperia Z got NFC. love it.

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Thankyou SONY for giving this........................ I love this and i think it is better than iPhone5....

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Sony Acro S is much better and not so big and bulky you need a bag to carry Z around Shame they do so big mobiles now I've got my laptop for watching movies..

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I'm a carpenter and sometimes when i'm out working I need to look up a supplier and find out who's got what and where, with the iPhone it was a struggle, web pages needed lots of left,right scrolling to see a whole page, not so much with the Z in fact I can squeeze the page to fit the screen and still read every word, nice :)

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dunno what happened there, :?

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ive just ordered this phone, and after much debate between the s4, one, and the z, i went for the z. mainly for the practical uses, waterproof and dust proof. i work with ink, so if i drop it in a ink drum, i can clean it easy :). also ive always owned an iphone (sorry!) and want a change. the 5 G rating just makes me even more anticipated for the knock on the door from the courier :D

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I got mine when it was released, the wife has an S3 and I wanted something else. My last phone was the Xperia Arc and I loved it, just a shame about the internal memory. So the Z was a natural choice seeing as how I despise all things I-phone. The Z is fantastic, the camera is awesome and I find I take more pictures with this than my 14mp Fuji bridge camera. As an orange user, I have been able to migrate to EE 4G service so I cant wait for faster speeds to watch Sky sports on my phone at work (currently awaiting EE sim). The only dissapointment was the free MDR Sony headphones allegedly £300rrp, till HMV were punting them at £120 before the phones release? I expected a better performance from them but I have a pair of AKG's that deliver more for less money.

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Luis Gomez

I had all the iPhones, current the 5. But last week I purchase the Samsung S4 and I hate it since the beginning, it's so cheap! that I sold it right of way and went I bought the Xperia Z, that a gorgeous piece of equipment, it is awesome. The way it handles, the screen, the design, the weight and it's SONY.

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Just wondering with the waterproof claim, does this include the sea? As that would be fun :-)

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iv had this phone for a few months now and I love it, yea the fiddling to re-charge is a bit annoying, but its a minor bug bear, I love how easy it is to use, it does everything well, don't get where folk are moaning about the viewing angle, what angle you want to see it from the back, yea ok Samsung may have better spec but it feels cheap this phone feels quality and if you want to be a sheep follow the rest and get the s4 baaa baaa, oh and the iphone 5 well that's all about" lets not bother, the daft people will buy it anyway"

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good phone. wish you added that they are realy realy bad at keeping the os uptodate. had a few sonys at first i thought it was because i bought there eco line. but even there high end Z phone has not kept up with the rest of the world. still waiting for there latest update which they have not relased for the uk. and before you say its the provider. i actually bought mine so there is no provider gunk on it

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Im so angry with sony and this phone.. ive had it for 3 months only. On th 6th of december I was making a phone call and the screen cracked.. just broke itself. After doing some research it seams there are thousands of other people with the same issue and sony refuse to fix it on warrenty as its obviously a manufacturer fault.. so I have to use my insurance and pay an an excess for making a phone call on a faulty phone... good luck if you buy this piece of rubbish !

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