The world of mobility has gone from big to small, but lately it has returned to ‘bigger is better.’ More inches. More dots per inch. More sound. More storage. More robustness.
The latest phone from Sony is the much anticipated Xperia Z with a 5” full high definition (HD) screen, and it’s water resistant to boot. Sony is a brand with many strong products and this is definitely one of them. From design to function the Xperia Z is on very good footing in the mobile world.
The main function of any mobile phone is voice calls. The Xperia Z takes a micro-sim and in no time at all you will be having crystal clear conversations with friends and colleagues. I found that its call quality was very clear and crisp, while the phone has built in software tweaks that can improve the quality of call, too, namely ‘Microphone noise suppression’ which essentially reduces the background noise during a call.
Another tweak is ‘Speaker voice enhancement’ which supposedly provides a richer voice listening experience during calls. I say ‘supposedly’ as this wasn’t the case with me as I found call quality was degraded when this option was active. When the standard settings are used, however, the Xperia Z offers a superb voice call experience.
‘Slim,’ ‘smooth’ and ‘light’ are some of the terms that you could use to describe the Xperia Z, but the phone is as also tough as nails, as the saying goes, having a frame made out of glass fibre polyamide, with durable tempered glass on the front and back while an anti-shatter film makes this the ‘Wonder Woman’ of phones – both beautiful and exceptionally durable. If that is not enough to impress you, Sony has thrown in water-resistance with a IP55 and IP57 rating. Did I mention it’s also dust-resistant?
The features don’t end there, either. There are rubber flaps that allow for easy access to connectors and slots on the phone, and it even reminds you to close the flaps properly when unplugged to ensure your phone remains water-resistant. Speaking of which, I couldn’t resist the urge to put the IP rating to the test. Watch the water test to see if it indeed is aqua-resistant as stipulated:
From the initial device start-up to the final device power down, I was left wondering if I had missed out a setting that put the colour back into the display. The Xperia Z comes with a Full HD 5-inch display that delivers crystal clear images, but the screen looked as though it had a washed-out effect permanently applied to it.
The colours lack vibrance and at the same time there was no way to increase these colours levels in the native settings. The Sony Mobile Bravia Engine 2 has been included, but after testing the setting while watching a full HD version of ‘Couragous,’ I wasn’t in favour of leaving the engine activated. I felt it made the image too dark and details were being lost in the shadows.
The last gripe I have with the display is that some of that full HD real estate is taken up by on-screen buttons that oftentimes affect the use of the device, especially in games where an accidental touch will see you exiting to the home screen. A physical home button would have been the better choice and this would also have preserved the dimensions of the 5-inch display.
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As I mentioned before, the Xperia Z earpiece produces crystal clear voice and is probably the best experience I have had with regards to voice calls. The loudspeaker is another story, though, and I found that it was lacking in volume on many occasions, especially when there was environmental sound going on around it. I would assume that the lack of volume could be from the water-resistant and dust-proofing of the unit, so it’s a favourable trade-off if that is the case.
The Xperia Z comes with a micro SD expansion slot capably of expanding the internal 16 GB by a whopping 64 GB. It also comes in two variants: one LTE (Lone-term Evolution) enabled and the other variant without LTE. LTE is still relatively new in South Africa and with the way things are progressing, I predict that it will be a while for all areas to receive coverage, and in addition, mobile data isn’t exactly cheap yet so with LTE speeds those data bundles will disappear faster than ever.
Near Field Communication (NFC) has also been incorporated in the Xperia Z to allow for quick pairing with other Sony products like your Sony Bravia TV Remote, where you simply physically touch the remote to the TV and it automatically connects the devices. You can of course also purchase your own NFC tag and set up other functions to make life that must easier day to day.
The camera on the Xperia Z weighs uses an impressive 13.1 Mega Pixel resolution with the first of its kind ability to shoot full HD video with HDR enabled on the primary camera. It also has a secondary camera with a resolution of 2.2MP and can capture video in full HD. While testing the unit I have to say that I honestly I wasn’t that impressed by the quality of the video or photos as they all seem to lack the vibrance and sharpness that I’ve come to expect.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an excellent camera for a mobile device, but I expected more. The HDR video does improve brightness and lessens shadows, but overall the noise that was added into the picture quickly outweighed the good.
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The Xperia Z comes with the Android 4.1.2 Jellybean operating system, with plans of an upgrade being released for v4.2 Jellybean. The phone also features a quad-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 2 GB of ram which helps the device respond quickly and smoothly to your touch. In addition, the Xperia Z includes one of the best mobile GPUs, the Adreno 320, which helps power the crisp full HD display. The device comes in three different colour options namely black, white and purple.
The battery supplied kept the review unit going for just over thirteen hours which included three hours and twenty-seven minutes of ‘screen on’ time – this is pretty impressive for the 2330 mAh Li-Ion battery, well done Sony! This battery performance was without even activating the stamina or low battery mode. The stamina mode essentially switches off all data or WiFi modules when the screen switches off. Voice calls and SMS messages still come through while the screen is off, but WhatsApp messages , Facebook notifications and other apps that use data will only be activated when the screen is turned on again.
In all honesty I wouldn’t use this function as I hardly use SMS anymore to communicate. My main form of communication relies on the data connection to function, but if you were in a pickle with no power source in sight, you can activate this function to extend your battery life by a considerable amount.
The Xperia Z is fast, friendly and non-scratch, and there isn’t an easier way to get a water-resistant, dust-proof, camera toting smartphone than with Sony’s offering. I had my ups and downs with the unit but it was a pleasure to use and test out. I was impressed with the water-resistance and strength of the body, and with the battery life, responsiveness of the interface and the call quality. If you’re looking for a phone that can take a beating and keep on moving at blazing speeds, then the Sony Xperia Z is the phone for you.
- Aesthetics: Flawless. Exceptional Build. A real winner – 5/5
- Quality: Top Class. Always felt at ease while handling the phone – 5/5
- Functionality: Kept accidentally touching the on-screen navigation buttons during use – 4/5
- Value: An unbeatable price for an equally tough and beautiful phone – 5/5