Sony’s Xperia Z phone, which the Japanese company unveiled at CES, looks like it will stand up to the competition. But by the time it becomes available around the end of the first quarter, Sony’s rivals may well come up with a product or two that are just as good.
Still, the Xperia Z is an appealing offering. It’s certainly on par with Apple’s iPhone. Indeed, Sony seems to have sweated the details across the entire design. The durable tempered Dragontail display looks awesome even before the phone is turned on, and it can be used in unusual circumstances, like when your hand’s wet or you’re wearing gloves. Every surface is reflective, and all edges are smooth and rounded. Sony likes to call this OmniBalance design.
Once you’ve turned the phone on, you’ll see the power of the Xperia Z’s five-inch Full HD Reality display with 443 ppi. Sony says it’s built on Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 technology, which provides enhanced contrast, color and clarity even while it’s more responsive and less reflective. That’s great. But people who had the chance to try out the phone at CES reported its viewing angles and saturation weren’t all that good compared to other 1080p screens like the HTC Butterfly/Droid DNA. The truth is, that’s a minor inconvenience, especially for those who’ll like the display’s IP55 and IP57 rating, which testifies to its durability.
The Xperia Z’s core is, of course, its processor — a 1.5-Ghz Quad-Core Snapdragon S4 Pro, same as that inside the Nexus 4, LG Optimus G and HTC Butterfly/Droid DNA phones. The S4 Pro is paired with 2 GB of RAM, meaning even avid Android users won’t have a problem running and switching through multiple tasks.
Although Xperia Z now runs Jelly Bean 4.1, Sony says there’ll be an upgrade available to 4.2 later this year. Of course, Sony’s custom build interface is built over Jelly Bean, but this results in only minor modifications to the home screen, lock screen, widgets and a few other areas.
Sony’s touting a “Battery Stamina” mode that turns off functions you don’t need when the display is off and can quadruple your battery life. We’ll see.
The phone’s 13-megapixel back camera comes with an Exmor RS sensor that improves low noise images in bad light conditions and features HDR recording. The front camera can shoot 1080p HDR videos and pictures and features an Exmor R sensor that makes it perfect for self-portraits and chat sessions in low-light conditions.
In terms of connectivity, Xperia Z has everything you should need. It supports HSPA and LTE networks, so Internet speed shouldn’t be a problem. It also has Bluetooth, a microSD slot, an NFC chip and Mobile High Definition Link to help you connect directly to an HDTV and other displays.
The one thing I don’t really like about the Xperia is its size. At least for me, it’s difficult to use a phone with a display this big, since you have to continually readjust its position to reach the edges. But the bottom line is, this is a great phone. Between the display, its sturdiness and powerful specs, it compares favorably with the iPhone 5, Galaxy S III and Nexus 4. For now, the big disappointment is that it’s not available.