Sony Xperia Z review [updated]

We review the Sony Xperia Z after living with the waterproof 1080p super phone for a week

Typical Price: 
Full HD display looks stunning; Water and dust resistant; Classical design; Refined UI; Fantastic camera UI.
Port flaps can be annoying; Call quality isn’t great; Mediocre battery life; Camera images are heavily processed; Gets hot with HD movies and 3D games.
The Sony Xperia Z is unrivalled, and it will be until the HTC One lands in March. While not perfect, it’s a fantastic all round phone. Provided neither the Samsung Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5S are water and dust resistant, Sony’s offering will always have a point of differentiation.

Critics called it the best smartphone Sony has ever produced following its launch at CES 2013 - weeks before many had tested it. Most based their judgements on the Xperia Z's specs, hardware, and looks, which is always something of a gamble. But they were right to be excited: the Xperia Z is a stunning piece of kit. 

Featuring a stunning 5-inch Full HD 1080p display, an ultra-thin 7.9mm profile, classical design, and Qualcomm's market-leading Snapdragon S4 Pro, the Xperia Z is a lot of phone - in every sense of the word. 

Sony may be about to follow activity rumoured to be taking place at Samsung by introducing a reworked Xperia Z flagship packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, if claims are to be believed.

Twitter source Eldar Murtazin claims a Snapdragon 800-based Xperia Z is in development and that he’s had hands-on time with it: ‘Trying updated version of Xperia Z with Snapdragon 800. It's really fast :),’ he Tweeted.

It also has a 13-megapixel Sony Exmor RS-powered camera and 1080p video. But what really sets the Sony Xperia Z apart from the crowd is its water and dust resistance.  Oh yes boys and girls, we finally have a superphone you can use in the shower.

Sony Xperia Z review: Design

Slick; angular; bold.

Glass front and backed, the Sony Xperia Z is an example of fine looking design. Water and dust resistance take us by surprise – this isn’t a rugged phone, or at least not a stereotypical one. 

Available in a range of three colours, black, white and purple, the Xperia Z is one of the thinnest smartphones we've tested to date. Sony has kept the design, overall, very classical, which as any good tailor will tell you is always a good policy. 

O2 stocks the Sony Xperia Z in the purple colour and it's the only UK network to do so apparently....

The front is buttonless, with a Sony insignia up above the display and a front facing camera to the top left. Along the sides, all the ports are under flaps. This is annoying, but it's also what makes the phone water resistant, so we’re hesitant to complain.

A micro USB port and micro SD card are on the left side. The right is where you’ll find the micro SIM card slot and the volume rocker, as well as the power button. At the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack and around the back is the 13- megapixel Exmor RS camera.

The square design makes a bold visual statement. It’s striking, like a Bravia TV and has a strong air of Sony about it - but thankfully not Sony Ericsson. It is a big phone though - even by 2013's standards.

Smaller hands will likely struggle with its surface area. Encased in glass the Xperia Z feels very precious. The black version of the device in particular also loves finger prints too. 

Accessing the Sony Xperia Z's microsUSB, 3.5mm Jack, or any of its ports for that matter means opening one of its numerous water and dust resistant flaps - something that gets rather annoying after awhile.

You can purchase the optional dock and use Bluetooth headphones and avoid using the Xperia Z's on-chassis ports completely but that will cost you additional funds - and the Xperia Z isn't cheap in the first place. 

And yet despite this gripe, we forgive the Xperia Z. We can't stay mad at it - the damn thing is just too good-looking. Key standout points of the Xperia Z's design include the easy to press power button,  the buttonless fascia, and despite moaning about it earlier, the port-less illusion the flaps create along the its  sides.

With its IP55 and IP57 certification, the Xperia Z breaks new ground. It really is unprecedented in this respect. You can even stream music to a Bluetooth speaker whilst it's submerged in water.


UK Launch £549
Network EE, Vodafone, Three
UK Launch Touch Screen
Length 7.9mm
Length 71mm
Length 139mm
Length 146g
Network 16GB
Network 64GB via microSD card
Network 3G, DC-HSPA, 4G
Camera Resolution 13-megapixels
Flash Yes
Screen Size 5-inches
Battery Standby Up to 550 h (2G) / Up to 530 h (3G)
Talktime Up to 11 h (2G) / Up to 14 h (3G)


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