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Sony Xperia Z specs review: greet the real 007 phone

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Sony Xperia Z specs review: greet the real 007 phone
Sony calls Xperia T the James Bond phone, but that title should have really waited for the Xperia Z monstrosity it just unveiled at its CES 2013 presentation. The company's first device with a Full HD mobile display has all reasons to make its parents proud, at least on paper. Let's review the announced specs, and try to gauge the performance that will come out of this little phone wonder called Xperia Z.


We say little, as for the 5" display it is sporting and the rough IP55/57 certification, the handset has surprisingly compact dimensions, due partially to the use of on-screen navigational buttons, allowing for thinner bezel, and the rest to the "skeleton frame" that Sony's engineering prowess has come up with. The construction allowed for a 7.8mm thin but sturdy chassis, with water- and dust-resistant certification.

The Xperia Z also sports the trendy premium glass material for the chassis, introduced with the iPhone 4, which means it looks and feels nice in the hand, a far cry from the usual plastic most everyone uses. LG tried this experiment on the Android side with the Optimus G and its Nexus 4 sidekick, and it worked well, despite some isolated reports for cracked backs, eventually due to tight packaging vs wider temperature amplitudes. 

Sony is likely using Asahi's Dragontrail glass for the back, which is first cousin of Corning's wildly popular Gorilla Glass brand, so you can rest assured the chassis of the Xperia Z will be tough and scratch resistant. Sony adds a purple color option for the Xperia Z to the usual white and black, showing that it can be done, even with a handset made of glass.

Perhaps the best of all news around the Xperia Z design is that Sony managed to supply the handset with a full suite of ports and slots, including a microSD one, despite the unibody watertight design, which is rarely seen these days, and would attract many to the handset just for the expandable memory option alone. Sony also placed the round metal lock/power key right under your thumb on the side, which is as ergonomic as it gets.


A 5" 1080x1920 pixels display with the Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 tech makes the Xperia Z futureproof for 2013, when all Android flagships are expected to hit that Full HD screen mark. Sony's HD mobile screens on the last Xperia flagships were good in terms of pixel density and color, but lacked in viewing angles, and the initial preview of the phone noticed the same here, 441ppi count or not. Indeed, the units on display at CES we saw seem to sport the same weak viewing angles we've grown accustomed to with high-end Xperias for a year now. 

The high pixel density reduces border jaggies in text and small detail much more compared to even the current high-end HD screens. While it makes reading, for example, a bit less tiring for your brain in theory, as it has to spend less effort to recognize the letter, the difference of efforts in reality is very minuscule and unlikely to be noticed in comparison with a nice high-def mobile screen, even if you read for hours on end.

Another advantage is that you can watch Full HD videos with 1080 definition in their complete glory on this display, so you will be able to see all the details of the footage taken with the phone's camera, for example. The difference in perception, compared to an HD 720 video on a screen of this size at a normal viewing distance, however, is unlikely to tip the scales in the 1080 definition favor just for this feature alone. You also gain more details to zoom in and work with if you are editing a photo on your screen, which again is an unlikely pastime on a phone display, at least not in depths and duration.

These Full HD screens are not at all the battery threat we expected them to be, judging from HTC Droid DNA's nice endurance tests, so we don't expect anything less from Sony, which is on top of that introducing the Battery Stamina mode that puts the phone in a low powered state to increase standby times significantly compared to your average smartphone.

Processor and memory

The 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro needs no introduction, as it is powering some of the best Android handsets out there currently, like the Nexus 4, has proven that no app or overlay can slow it down, and it is thrifty to boot, with integrated LTE and HSPA+ baseband radio combos. The 2 GB of RAM are a first for Sony, but were a staple for high-ends from Samsung and LG last year.

Sony has integrated a 16 GB flash memory chip into the Xperia Z, and, most thankfully, has included a microSD slot with a protective cap on the side as well, so you can add more storage to your heart's desire.


Another very interesting aspect of the phone is its 13 MP camera sensor on the back. It is of the new Exmor RS variety, meaning it has "stacked" design, taking less space, and is also backside-illuminated for better low-light photography. 

The thing that truly sets it apart, however, is the hardwired HDR processing, which can work even in video mode, so tricky lighting situations should be no threat to a good Full HD footage recorded with the Xperia Z.

Overall, Sony has come up with a pretty great Android phone that might be currently considered the best in its high-end class, given the memory expansion slot, water- and dust-resistance, and HDR video capabilities. The Xperia Z actually makes the case why Sony is the second largest Android maker after almighty Samsung, and that position will likely only by affirmed this year, if phones like the Z are any indication.

  • Options

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:09 13

1. danny_a2005 (Posts: 165; Member since: 06 Oct 2011)

take my money... ASAP... The white one is mine... Thanks sony

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 23:00 1

25. MeoCao (unregistered)

This phone sacrifices picture quality for battery life and slim body.

The additional white sub-pixel adds to brightness and thus reduce the power consumption for LCD backlighting, but the contrast ratio suffers.

And the S4 Pro will have only a few month window after which Tegra 4 will rule.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 23:34 7

26. Retro-touch (Posts: 273; Member since: 24 Oct 2011)

Don't forget that's how its always been with tech, you can't stay on top forever, Tegra 4 will in turn be overthrown similar to Tegra 3 within a few months

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 01:30 1

31. MeoCao (unregistered)

You forget 1 key factor: timing.

Z will not be available until March as earleast, by then S4 Pro will reach the end of its life cycle.

A top phone must have top specs, which Xperia Z doesn't.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 03:27 4

38. IHateApple (banned) (Posts: 122; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)

So according to you, Optimus G was the best phone when it launched. Right?

Specs aren't everything. It's the things like software, camera, battery life that matter in the long run.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 03:36 1

39. IHateApple (banned) (Posts: 122; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)

And also carrier choice. The Galaxy S3 broke all records when it launched in US on all major carriers with the same name and the same exact phone on each carrier.

Why do you think S3 was the phone to beat throughout 2012?

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 05:31

43. MeoCao (unregistered)

Agree, but still it would be much better if Xperia Z used Tegra 4 or some kind of A15 quad core.

Now Xperia risk being surpassed by new HTC or SS flagships with better chips.

posted on 10 Jan 2013, 08:07 1

54. gmracer1 (Posts: 646; Member since: 28 Dec 2012)


posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:12 3

2. shamu11 (Posts: 19; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)

Its a shame its running non-vanilla android and is not a nexus

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 21:12 15

17. networkdood (Posts: 6330; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)

that can be fixed....go to XDA

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 21:52 3

20. Shadow_Assassin (Posts: 11; Member since: 30 May 2012)

with a few bugs here and there of course.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 02:30 3

35. zazori08 (Posts: 113; Member since: 21 Dec 2011)

you know there are people called developers right?

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 03:36 2

40. IHateApple (banned) (Posts: 122; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)

Nah. He doesn't.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:13

3. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)

And the Limited or Special Edition with pure jet black with gold side accent .

Is there no companies that will be using the S4 Prime....?

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:16 1

4. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)

Thank you for SAYING THE REAL 007 PHONE. The XPERIA T was kinda weak. BUT THIS IS SONY BEASTLY phone can't WAIT TO BUY IT!!

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:21 4

7. thelegend6657 (unregistered)

Am starting to think the Xperia T is just a stopgap before the z arrives

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:18 1

5. Jimstar (Posts: 259; Member since: 24 Oct 2011)

I'm prettysure a phone with a 5" display would be a bit too clumsy due to size alone to be appropriate for super-spy duty...

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:20 6

6. DerryAhmad (Posts: 278; Member since: 05 May 2012)

OMG.. Premium Glass Design, Skeleton frame, HDR video Recording, Full HD Display, 13 Mpx Exmor XR, Water resistant. I'm sooo tempted by this new Sony Flagship. Rock on, Sony!!

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 03:40

41. IHateApple (banned) (Posts: 122; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)

What if it comes with Ice Cream Sandwich??

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 18:58 1

49. DerryAhmad (Posts: 278; Member since: 05 May 2012)

But I won't ;)

posted on 13 Jan 2013, 15:38

59. Paradox (Posts: 124; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)

Such an idealist, we all know it will come with gingerbread...

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:26 3

8. cretinick (Posts: 148; Member since: 25 Jan 2011)

I love the phone, but I hate the size...
I was hoping the ZL were water and dust resistant too. Very frustrating. If it were, ZL definitely would be my next phone.

Now I'm devided between Rugged Phone or "compact" Phone...

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 01:04

30. Exulion (Posts: 1; Member since: 08 Jan 2013)

I was hoping this as well. :(

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:28 1

9. oister85 (Posts: 497; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)

Glass build this was what I was waiting for. I'm going to get it when it comes out.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:29 5

10. chasetorres125 (Posts: 22; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)

WOW The best phone so far

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:32 12

11. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)

I won't be buying the S4, but this SONY Z for sure....

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:33

12. Mube1 (Posts: 153; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)

Welcome sony n now we can u r in real competition now

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:37

13. chasetorres125 (Posts: 22; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)

WOW The best phone so far sony even throw the kitten sink by adding dust waterproof and the new xmor sensor,IR,bravia 2,becuz the s4 1080p 5' is given at highend flagship this year go sony RISE SOAR #1

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 20:47 3

14. datsyuk (Posts: 179; Member since: 11 Jan 2012)

The fact it's water proof or can handle water being poured on it is so badass. This phone is AWESOME and sets a great level for phones to come this year.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 21:00

15. cripton805 (Posts: 1444; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)

Sony might just be my next phone if it's available for Sprint! Can't wait. It be be this one after my GSIII gets a little older.

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