comscore Review: Sony Xperia Z
Review

Review: Sony Xperia Z

If Samsung's Galaxy range of smartphones are anything to go by, you don't really need premium hardware or insane features to taste runaway Android smartphone success. All you need is smart pricing and

If Samsung’s Galaxy range of smartphones are anything to go by, you don’t really need premium hardware or insane features to taste runaway Android smartphone success. All you need is smart pricing and billions of advertising dollars. Sony, much like HTC, tries to buck the trend with the Xperia Z that boasts premium design, top-of-the-line hardware specifications and some water resistance for added measure. A price tag of approximately Rs 39,000 doesn’t feel steep either, especially with its chief competitor – the HTC Butterfly – priced at Rs 46,000. But will it be enough for Sony to make people believe in the Japanese brand once again? It is about time we find out. Also Read - E3 2021: What is it, entire schedule, how to watch livestream for free, what to expect

[nggallery id=228] Also Read - God of War Ragnarok delayed until 2022: Here's why

DESIGN

At a time when every phone looks alike with some kind of plastic body with rounded corners and curved back, the Xperia Z is a big departure. Like the iPhone 4/4S and the Nexus 4, the Xperia Z features a tempered glass back that looks premium and different. The black version looks better than the white one, but both variants stand out and won’t leave people guessing which phone you are holding. It is very much like the iPhone – it has a distinct persona of its own and screams trademark Sony (not Sony Ericsson) design language of straight lines. Also Read - Sony PlayStation 5 India Restock: Next sale in June along with Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart launch

The edges also have a lining of tempered glass and all ports are hidden with flaps that provide the much advertised water resistance. In fact, it took me a while to find out the micro USB charging port, which doesn’t have any marking, unlike other ports. The phone feels extremely solid and as expected it doesn’t creak or rattle when held in a tight grip.

While the combination of straight lines and flat back looks good, holding the phone is a different matter altogether. Despite shaving off the bezel, any phone with a 5-inch display is difficult to maneuver with one hand and in this case the lack of curvature doesn’t help. I found the edges to be a bit too sharp for my comfort, though the corners have been subtly rounded off. Apple can have an iPhone with a flat back solely because of its smaller footprint, which certainly isn’t the case with the Xperia Z. Ironically, it was Sony Ericsson that introduced the “human curvature” with its Xperia smartphones, something that probably got lost in translation somewhere.

Another gripe I have with the design is the placement of the speaker on the lower right edge, which ensures that it is muffled every time you hold the phone in your right hand. You just cannot miss covering the speaker with the fleshy part of the palm.

HARDWARE

Android smartphones in the last couple of years have entered a specification arms race with brands trying to strike a fine balance between having the latest and greatest specifications possible while forgetting about the user experience. That reflects in the marketing as well, which is focused on hardware specifications like processor, display size, internal memory and megapixels without really thinking about whether they would really make a difference in the user’s life.

That’s not to blame Sony for putting the best possible specifications on its flagship smartphone but somewhere they seem to have lost the message of why one needs top-notch hardware. Take the 5-inch full HD 1080p display with Bravia engine enhancement, for instance. The Xperia Z has the best display I have encountered on a smartphone when viewed front-on but the viewing angles are terrible – an issue that has plagued Xperia smartphones in the past and I hoped Sony would fix it by investing in better quality displays especially when it attempts a comeback. Despite having the Bravia Engine at work, I find the HTC Butterfly to have a better display. Considering that the display is what you’d end up interacting with all the time, this is bit of a let down.

Display aside, rest of the specs are top-of-the-line, especially the combination of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz combined with 2GB of RAM. It essentially chews and spits everything thrown at it with no lag. Some might find it an overkill but this firepower is required for some processor intensive tasks like HDR video recording among others.

Talking about the camera, the 13.1-megapixel camera churns out good shots provided you have optimum lighting condition. Daytime shots are comparable with any other high-end smartphone but it is the indoor and low-light shots that leave much to be desired. Photos taken outdoors at night and indoors in low-light are average at best, which can’t be compared with even the iPhone 5, forget the Lumia 920. If you were looking for a bigger proof that megapixel count isn’t everything, look no further. Image stabilization mostly worked and I even tried shooting video in HDR mode, which works in certain extreme conditions (shooting under direct sunlight, for instance). I believe this will soon become a common feature in most high-end smartphones.

SOFTWARE

The Xperia Z runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2, which isn’t the latest version but that is par for the course. Sony has promised to update it to 4.2 soon and the company has been pretty prompt with its updates in the past. I like the fact that the UI on top of stock Android is minimal and that Sony has gone with onscreen navigation controls than having three buttons below the display.

There is a bit of bloatware in form of Sony’s own web apps apart from McAfee antivirus. Sony has said that the Xperia Z will come with some music store offering but my review unit didn’t have it.

Sony has also added a “Stamina Mode” as a software feature, which the company claims could potentially quadruple the battery performance of the phone. The feature essentially kills all background updates while the display is turned off and saves battery during standby mode. It is a nice addition for non-power users and it is customizable too to add apps to the whitelist that can access the Internet during that time.

PERFORMANCE

During my testing that lasted for a week I could barely pass through 15 hours with my heavy usage with two email ids, a Twitter account, about two hours of calls and about four hours of Internet usage. I had both 3G and Wi-Fi turned on and had switched off the Stamina Mode. With similar usage, the HTC Butterfly lasted me for slightly almost 22 hours. Having said that, switching on the stamina mode improves the performance drastically. The Xperia Z should easily see through a day of medium usage.

I did not experience any lag whatsoever and the phone essentially would take on any app or game currently available on Android Play Store with no difficulties. I did not face any problem with the call quality and neither did I face any call drops. It performs its job as a phone.

VERDICT

The Xperia Z is really a mixed bag kind of device. The design is pretty but has its own set of flaws. The camera has the highest resolution sensor available in the market on an Android smartphone today but its performance is average. The battery performs above par if you are willing to sacrifice being online at all times. The display has the highest pixel density on a smartphone (for now) but suffers from poor viewing angles.

The only thing that really works for the Xperia Z is its pricing but that is more about HTC failing to price the Butterfly sensibly. It is water resistant too but it remains to be seen whether that is a killer feature for which buyers would choose the Xperia Z.

And let’s not forget the elephant in the room – the Samsung Galaxy S IV, which will be unveiled on March 14 and should be available in India sometime in April, if the Galaxy S III roll-out from last year is taken as a precedence. Add to it the HTC One that is also getting launched in India in April and the Xperia Z starts looking a generation old already.

Photographs: Rohit Sharma

For the latest tech news across the world, latest PC and Mobile games, tips & tricks, top-notch gadget reviews of most exciting releases follow BGR India’s Facebook, Twitter, subscribe our YouTube Channel. Also follow us on  Facebook Messenger for latest updates.
  • Published Date: March 12, 2013 11:24 AM IST
  • Updated Date: March 12, 2013 11:51 AM IST


You Might be Interested

Sony Xperia Z

23000

Android OS, v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), upgrad?ble to v4.4.4 (KitKat), planned upgrade to v5.0 (Lollipop)
Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait
13.1 MP, 4128x3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash

new arrivals in india

OnePlus Nord CE 5G
OnePlus Nord CE 5G

22,999

iQOO Z3
iQOO Z3

19,990

Realme C25s
Realme C25s

9,999

Poco M3 Pro 5G
Poco M3 Pro 5G

13,999

Realme X7 Max 5G
Realme X7 Max 5G

26,999

Oppo F19
Oppo F19

18,990

Motorola Moto G40 Fusion
Motorola Moto G40 Fusion

13,999

POCO M2 Reloaded
POCO M2 Reloaded

9,499

OPPO A74 5G
OPPO A74 5G

17,990

Oppo A53s 5G
Oppo A53s 5G

14,990

Vivo V21 5G
Vivo V21 5G

29,990

Realme C25
Realme C25

9,499

Realme C21
Realme C21

7,999

Realme C20
Realme C20

6,799

Motorola Moto G60
Motorola Moto G60

17,999

iQOO 7
iQOO 7

31,990

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G
Samsung Galaxy M42 5G

21,999

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

69,999

Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro 5G
Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro 5G

39,999

Xiaomi Mi 11X
Xiaomi Mi 11X

29,999

Realme 8 5G
Realme 8 5G

13,999

Samsung Galaxy F02s
Samsung Galaxy F02s

8,999

Samsung Galaxy F12
Samsung Galaxy F12

10,999

POCO X3 Pro
POCO X3 Pro

18,999

Realme 8 Pro
Realme 8 Pro

17,999

Realme 8
Realme 8

14,999

Vivo X60 Pro Plus
Vivo X60 Pro Plus

69,990

Vivo X60 Pro
Vivo X60 Pro

49,990

Vivo X60
Vivo X60

37,990

OnePlus 9 Pro 5G
OnePlus 9 Pro 5G

64,999

OnePlus 9R 5G
OnePlus 9R 5G

39,999

OnePlus 9 5G
OnePlus 9 5G

49,999

Samsung Galaxy A72
Samsung Galaxy A72

34,999

Samsung Galaxy A52
Samsung Galaxy A52

26,499

Micromax In 1
Micromax In 1

10,499

Asus ROG Phone 5
Asus ROG Phone 5

49,999

Samsung Galaxy M12
Samsung Galaxy M12

10,999

Motorola Moto G30
Motorola Moto G30

10,999

Motorola Moto G10 Power
Motorola Moto G10 Power

9,999

Oppo F19 Pro Plus 5G
Oppo F19 Pro Plus 5G

25,990

Oppo F19 Pro
Oppo F19 Pro

21,490

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

18,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

15,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10

11,999

Realme Narzo 30A
Realme Narzo 30A

8,999

Realme Narzo 30 Pro
Realme Narzo 30 Pro

16,999

Infinix Smart 5
Infinix Smart 5

7,199

Samsung Galaxy F62
Samsung Galaxy F62

23,999

Samsung Galaxy A12
Samsung Galaxy A12

12,999

Nokia 5.4
Nokia 5.4

13,999

Nokia 3.4
Nokia 3.4

11,999

Realme X7 Pro 5G
Realme X7 Pro 5G

29,999

Realme X7
Realme X7

19,999

Vivo Y31
Vivo Y31

16,490

Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G
Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G

35,990

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

1,05,999

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G

81,999

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

69,999

Vivo Y12s
Vivo Y12s

9,990

Vivo Y51A
Vivo Y51A

17,990

Samsung Galaxy M02s
Samsung Galaxy M02s

8,999

Xiaomi Mi 10i
Xiaomi Mi 10i

21,999

Oppo A15s
Oppo A15s

11,490

Tecno Spark 6 Go
Tecno Spark 6 Go

8,499

Vivo V20 2021
Vivo V20 2021

24,990

Vivo Y20A
Vivo Y20A

11,490

Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power
Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power

11,999

Motorola Moto G9 Power
Motorola Moto G9 Power

11,999

Motorola Moto G 5G
Motorola Moto G 5G

20,999

Vivo V20 Pro
Vivo V20 Pro

29,990

Xiaomi Mi 10T
Xiaomi Mi 10T

35,999

Xiaomi Redmi 9i
Xiaomi Redmi 9i

8,299

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro

39,999

Infinix Hot 10
Infinix Hot 10

9,999

Vivo V20 SE
Vivo V20 SE

20,990

Vivo V20
Vivo V20

24,990

Micromax In 1b
Micromax In 1b

6,999

Micromax In Note 1
Micromax In Note 1

10,999

OnePlus 8T
OnePlus 8T

42,999

Samsung Galaxy F41
Samsung Galaxy F41

15,499

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

1,29,900

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro

1,19,900

Apple iPhone 12 Mini
Apple iPhone 12 Mini

69,900

Apple iPhone 12
Apple iPhone 12

79,900

Poco X3
Poco X3

16,999

Realme Narzo 20A
Realme Narzo 20A

8,499

Realme Narzo 20
Realme Narzo 20

10,499

Realme Narzo 20 Pro
Realme Narzo 20 Pro

13,999

Oppo F17
Oppo F17

16,990

Samsung Galaxy M51
Samsung Galaxy M51

22,999

Poco M2
Poco M2

10,999

Oppo F17 Pro
Oppo F17 Pro

22,990

Realme 7 Pro
Realme 7 Pro

19,999

Realme 7
Realme 7

14,999

Xiaomi Redmi 9A
Xiaomi Redmi 9A

6,799

Vivo Y20
Vivo Y20

12,990

Xiaomi Redmi 9
Xiaomi Redmi 9

8,999

Nokia 5.3
Nokia 5.3

13,999

Best Sellers