Sony Xperia Z user interface walkthrough
The Sony Xperia Z is unquestionably the phone of the moment, so here's a user interface walkthrough to whet your appetites before its arrival
It's no surprise that the Sony Xperia Z's user interface has been revamped - everything else about this phone innovates. Gorgeous 1080p display, water resistant 7.9mm thin chassis, incredibly powerful camera sensor capable of HDR video.
Within this context, a tired old interface simply wouldn't do. So Sony has redrawn everything, bringing the Xperia Z's UI very much back inline with what's on offer from Samsung and HTC.
Icons, widgets, and transitions have all been revamped – but that's just scratching the surface. Even the trademark Xperia widget overview has been lost in favour of more traditional homescreen management.
It really is a massive update, and we're more than impressed with what Sony has created here. Below we'll show you what makes Sony's new UI tick and why it's so good. Welcome to Know Your Mobile’s definitive guide to the Sony Xperia Z’s user interface.
The Sony Xperia Z doesn’t have the very latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 4,2, but is instead one release out of date with Android 4.1.
For anyone less au fait with Android, both these versions are called Jelly Bean. Android 4.1 introduced a couple of key updates which are found in the Sony Xperia Z, namely Project Butter and Google Now. Android 4.2 introduces a quick settings bar along with lock screen widgets and a revised camera UI.
Android is the same operating system as that found on the Samsung Galaxy S3, Google Nexus 4 and HTC One X. In its stock version, Android has five homescreens, a pull down notification bar and an application tray.
Only a handful of mainstream devices run truly stock Android though, with most manufacturers like Sony customising the look, feel and functionality.
If you like apps, Android is hands-down the most cost effective way to get your fix with over 400,000 on the Google Play store. Many are free, many are paid, and Google is going to great lengths to make the experience comparable to the daddy of app stores - Apple’s App Store.
Any Google Play certified device now also packs access to Google Music, Google Magazines and Google Books opening you up to a huge amount of content without any third party apps.
Sony Xperia Z User Interface
There are 5 home screens by default and they’re loaded up with Sony’s own widgets and shortcuts. Some of these are very handy like quick settings
Others such as Sony’s Music and Video unlimited widgets are less relevant unless you’re sold into Sony’s premium content services.
Pinching the homescreen presents you with a number of options and a slick homescreen management screen. This is where you can add or remove screens, change wallpaper, add widgets and select your theme.
Media widgets and shortcuts preloaded on the Xperia Z include Sony’s Music and Video unlimited services as well as their PlayStation store for all your favourite PS One games.
Widgets can be removed with a long press, followed by a drag into the bin icon. If you want to delete an entire page of widgets you can do so via the homescreen overview we spoke about earlier.
Pull the notifications bar down and you’ll also find a handful of quick settings. These help make up for the fact Android 4.2 isn’t on board and give you the option to toggle connections like Wi-Fi, mobile data, Bluetooth etc. Notifications can also be expanded with a two finger pull down or swiped out of the way.
We mentioned pinching the screen presents you with options, one being the ability to change your theme. Themes are very tightly integrated in the Sony Xperia Z. First off, they change the home and lock screen wallpaper. This is the most apparent change, however if you go with a colourful theme such as emerald green, not only will it throw complementary images into the backdrop, menus will also feature green highlights.
As with the Sony Xperia T, the Z supports mini widgets or ‘small apps’ as Sony calls them. Illustrated below, these are accessible through the multi-tasking menu and include a calculator, a timer, Post It note and voice recorder you can pull up on the fly.
Finally, the real highlight of the Sony Xperia Z is something called Battery Stamina Mode. As the name suggests, this makes your battery last longer, and after the misfortune that was the Xperia T and its dead before dusk life cycle, it’s all too welcome.
To activate it, jump into the settings and you’ll find the option halfway down the screen. Tap it and brace yourself for a phone that Sony purports to last a full day and more.
It does this by preventing background processes when the screen is turned off. Background processes are something that Android, a rogue OS compared to iOS and Windows Phone 8 in this respect, gets all too sloppy with – and this really hits battery life hard.
With Stamina Mode, you can white list applications such as Whatsapp and Facebook if you want to allow them to update. This type of flexibility combined with the affect it has on your battery life make this one killer feature.
All in all, the Xperia UI has taken a turn for the better. Everything looks cleaner and the 1080p display on the Xperia Z shows off the new look beautifully.
We’d also say the Stamina mode feature is a great addition and should go a long way to fixing Sony's lacklustre power management reputation.
Excited for the full review? We are. It should be here in the next few weeks, so be sure to check back and enjoy our hands-on video in the meantime.