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Monday, April 8, 2013

Sony Xperia Z review


Sony bets big on a 5-incher for the European market. But is the Xperia Z the high-end handset it needs?

Don’t count out Sony Mobile. Sure, the Japanese giant’s smartphone arm may be an irrelevance in the U.S. market right now, for reasons we won’t get into here. But it’s made steady progress in Europe and the UK, where it’s now number two in Android market share behind Samsung. Admittedly, much of that has been down to Sony’s numerous entry-level and mid-range devices like the Xperia Tipo and Xperia U, rather than its high-end stuff.
That’s because Sony has lacked a kick-ass flagship smartphone for far too long. Last year neither theXperia S nor Xperia T thrilled us enough to recommend them over the Samsung and HTC competition. The former arrived running the dated Android 2.3 Gingerbread, while the latter suffered from dismal battery life and ran ICS in a Jelly Bean-aspiring world.
So with a new year comes a new Sony phone, the Xperia Z. If nothing else, the manufacturer’s rapid turnover of high-end handsets has allowed it to finally catch up in the spec war. This new Xperia is fitted with a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset, a 1080p display and a 13-megapixel camera with Sony’s fancy new Exmor RS sensor tech. Oh, and it’s also fully water-resistant.
But make no mistake, the Xperia Z is about to be born into a world of ferocious competition, with Samsung keen to hold onto its Android dominance, and HTC pulling no punches with its new HTC One. Once again Sony has the advantage of bringing a product to market first -- so can it deliver? Find out in our full review of the Xperia Z.
The Good
Incredibly sharp and clear screen. Speedy performance and sleek UI. Solid build quality and attractive chassis design. Waterproof capabilities set it apart from other high-end phones. Great camera performance.
The Bad
Plastic flaps will frustrate some users. Non-ergonomic design and large screen size make it a little unwieldy. Quick-launch camera bugs get in the way at crucial moments. No dedicated camera button.
Conclusion
The main reason for passing on the Xperia Z might be its chunky dimensions and questionable ergonomics. For those with small hands, this could well be a deal-breaker. To find out if that’s you, go into a store and spend a few minutes with a demo unit. (While you're there, take a good look at the HTC One, launching soon in Europe around the same price point as the Xperia Z.)
The bottom line, however, is relatively simple. In the Xperia Z Sony has -- for the first time in a couple of years -- a great flagship smartphone, a device we can sincerely recommend. And it's about time.


Xperia Z video walkthrough


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