2 months ago when Sony announced the Xperia Z, everyone got excited as the marketing videos and the specs of the device seem very promising, especially the claims about the camera. Well, we got the opportunity to use the device and is still using.. for about 2 weeks plus now. Guess it’s time for us to do a full review of the Xperia Z to share with everyone what we love and hate about it.
Before we move on, let’s take a look at the specs of the Xperia Z. Sony touted that this is the very best of Sony put into 1 device. It’s their first smartphone with a 5-inch screen and 1080p resolution (the highest one in the market currently). With the size and resolution, it packs 441 pixels per inch, that’s a lot higher than iPhone’s Retina Display. The phone also comes with a quad core 1.5Ghz processor, 13-megapixel back camera with Exmor-R sensor, NFC and is water resistant.
The Xperia Z gives a very different feeling when held in hand. The full glass body and squarish design gives it a very solid and sturdy built. Many friends actually told us that it looks very modern and futuristic, compared to Samsung’s curvy design which is already starting to look old.
At 7.9mm, the phone feels really thin and light. It’s so thin that you just need to keep staring at it to appreciate the engineering of the hardware.
Since the Xperia Z is water-resistant, every single port and opening must be tightly covered with a flap, as seen in the photo above. The phone is literally made out of glass as the sides, top and bottom of it are glass, just like the screen and the back. With so many flaps on the phone, it may not be the best user experience for some people. We didnt like the fact that we have to dig out the flap every single time we charge the phone, but guess they have no choice since the phone needs to be resistant to water.
The trademark of this phone is definitely the silver power button on the right side of the phone. The button is placed just right, at the spot where we rest our thumb. Below it is the volume rocker which feels very good and solid when pressed. Notice there are no external camera button here, so you will have to activate the screen in order to tap the camera icon.
Here’s a closer look at the charging port. As mentioned just now, we are not a fan of flaps.
The back part of the phone is made out of some ordinary glass which is prone to scratches. Just within 2 weeks of careful use, the phone managed to get scratched quite badly at the back, just below the XPERIA logo. So when you are buying the phone, do look out for casings as well.
We will talk about the camera in another post, and another video as we will be comparing the photo quality with the HTC Butterfly and the Galaxy Note 2. Stay tuned for that.
One weakness of the Xperia Z is the loudspeaker. The audio is really soft. Ringtones are soft. Video volume is soft. Everything that comes out of the loudspeaker is soft. We are frustrated and pissed with the volume and we seriously hope SONY can do something about it in the next firmware update.
Looking at the OS and interface, we have elements that we really love and some otherwise. The notification pulldown looks really good with the squarish design and translucent background. As previously we were using the Galaxy Note 2, it is really an inconvenience that the toggles at the top of the notification pulldown is not scrollable. Most of the time, we find ourselves going into settings menu just to change a simple thing like brightness or to switch on NFC.
Tapping on the multitasking button on the bottom right brings up the multitasking bar and the shortcut to ‘small apps’. We were really disappointed that Sony did not include a ‘close all background apps’ button. This is also a mistake on HTC phones. On another note, we love the small apps feature whereby we can bring up calculator, notepad, timer and audio recorder as a popup on the screen on top of whatever screen we are looking at.
We love the smoothness of the gallery and the ability to change the size of the thumbnails by just pinching the screen. We notice they lack of one feature in the gallery; ‘Select all’. This is a very crucial issue as users tend to select all photos in the gallery to delete or transfer to other locations.
Since the Xperia Arc, we have always loved the feature whereby we can sort the icons in the apps tray based on own order, alphabetical, most used, etc. Glad they continued it in the Xperia Z.
On the homescreen, tapping and holding on the wallpaper will bring up options to add widgets, app shortcuts, change wallpaper and theme. We didn’t like how they presented the widgets in 2 rows of thumbnails at the bottom of the screen because with more widgets added into the phone, we need more time to scroll through them. We prefer a screen full of widget thumbnails to decrease the need to scroll.
The right screenshot shows the dialer screen which we really like. It’s white, clean and has subtle animations that adds to the great user experience.
One thing to note about the Xperia Z. The battery performance is bad. A full charge only last me about 5 hours for regular usage. With screen brightness switched to automatic/half, the battery still drains quicker than expected. Consider bringing an external charger/battery to power up the phone when you are out and about with the Xperia Z.
Lastly, the Xperia Z can really be washed and dunked into water. You can finally Tweet in the shower or get thrown into the pool at the party without worries.
Check out the SUPER DETAILED review in video below. Check out some WEIRD reactions on the phone when washed under the tap!
Why Should You BUY This Phone:
– Superb built quality
– Very high resolution screen
– Camera is above average, especially under low light
Why You SHOULDN’T BUY This Phone:
– Bad battery performance
– Loudspeaker is too soft
– Gets scratched easily (the back of the phone)