The Sony Xperia Z is the latest handset to join the ever expanding family of Xperia devices from the Japanese manufacturer. But whilst the Xperia range is large, sales are not. For some reason the Xperia brand just hasn't caught the imagination of the smartphone buying consumer. But that could change, and probably will, with the Xperia Z.
The Xperia Z is, without a doubt, the most impressive smartphone from Sony. It has it all, the looks, the speed, the storage, the UI, the features, everything a handset needs to be a hit.
The handset is absolutely dominated by the display, and at 5.0 inches that is no surprise. The AMOLED screen has a pixel count of 1080 x 1920, and with the Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, everything on the screen looks great, icons are clear and sharp, pictures look superb, and video playback is excellent.
Despite the large display, the handset actually feels good in the hand, helped greatly by the fact that it is only 7.9mm thick. It is one of those illusions that, despite its length and width, the thinness of the handset makes it feel comfortable to hold. The Xperia Z weighs in at 146g, which is bordering on the heavy side, but actually the weightiness to it gives it a rather solid feel.
And solid the phone actually is. The display is protected by a shatter proof, scratch resistant glass, and the phone is IP57 certified for dust and water resistance. In basic terms, this means the phone cane survive in up to 1 metre of water for up to 30 minutes without suffering any ill effects. But despite its toughness, the phone just looks good, and does away with the rugged looks often favoured by manufacturers of such devices.
The Sony Xperia Z is a quad band GSM phone, with tri band HSDPA support, and 4G LTE onboard, compatible with the EE 4G network in the UK. WiFi 802.11 b/g/n is also included, supporting WiFi Direct, DLNA and WiFi Hotspot. Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP is on board, and the Xperia Z also includes NFC support. Sony market a range of NFC enabled accessories, such as headphones and speakers, which are instantly connected to the handset just by 'tapping' them together.
Like most Xperia devices before and, the Xperia Z runs on the Android OS, with the handset shipping with Android Jelly Bean 4.1 pre-installed. This is about as up to date an Android release you can get outside of the Nexus range of Android phones, and Sony have already confirmed that they are preparing an update to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean which is set to be released soon.
One of the reasons Sony can get an update out so soon for a new device is the manufacturer tweaks on this handset are kept to an absolute minimum. Gone is the multi layers that can be found with older devices running Timescape, here the UI is almost native Android, which should keep many fans happy. Slow updates is a real bug-bear for Android users, so anything done to speed up the process is to be welcomed.
Another outstanding feature on the handset is the camera, coming in at an impressive 13.1 Megapixels. The camera utilises many additional features, including touch focus, face detection, geotagging, image stabilisation and the Sony Sweep Panorama feature also makes an appearance.
The camera is enabled to take 1080p HD video clips, supporting continuous autofocus and HDR, and the LED flash doubles as a video light to improve picture quality in poor lighting conditions. There is a 2.2 Megapixel front facing camera for video calling, which is also enabled to record 1080p HD video at 30 fps.
Internal memory on the Xperia Z is set to 16GB, and surprisingly Sony have decided to include a MicroSD card slot on the phone, a feature that hasn't featured too often on Sony smartphones. The device has 2GB RAM, and combined with the quad core 1.5 GHz processor, the device fair shifts along in use, with little noticeable lag in use, even when using power intensive applications.
The Xperia Z offers a full media player, as well as a stereo FM radio with RDS. Other notable features include GPS with aGPS and GLONASS, active noise cancellation, full SNS integration and a TV Out option via an MHL A/V link.
With so many power hungry features, you worry that the Xperia Z will need to be constantly connected to a power source, but that fear is soon put to rest, as Sony have included a massive 2330 mAh lithium ion battery, which promises an impressive 550 hours standby and up to 14 hours talktime from a single charge. Music playback is checked at up to 40 hours, so even on a busy day away from a charging point, the Xperia Z should have enough to get you through.
It is fair to say that the Sony Xperia Z is a very impressive device, in size and stats. The spec list is almost endless, with top feature after top feature all included. Of course the phone will have its critics, some will feel that a 5.0 inch display is just too much for a mobile phone, and that the device is bordering into the Tablet market, or the so called 'Phablet' range. The fact that the battery is non-user removable will also annoy some, but those criticisms, in comparison to the plus points of this device are very minor indeed. This should be the device that finally sees Sony become a viable alternative to Samsung and Apple in the smartphone market.