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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.

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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: 493; 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: 1440; 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.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 21:07

16. blackice214 (Posts: 164; Member since: 03 Jan 2013)

I will be happy to pay 700$ for this phone.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 21:27

18. cdnfreak (Posts: 26; Member since: 13 Mar 2012)

here come the lawsuits, its black and it has rounded corners. Therefore it must be an iCrap copy.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 21:51

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

This phone is awesome, if only it runs WP, I will surely get this one.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 22:25

22. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1345; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)

Only problem is that WP does not support 1080p displays. And people wonder why Android is so much better.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 00:19 3

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

android is only better because it push new tech like processor and display ahead. but for personal experience, I prefer WP than android.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 22:24

21. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1345; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)

First phone I would consider using a wet screen protector on.

posted on 07 Jan 2013, 22:37 2

23. BigBoss10 (Posts: 273; Member since: 31 Aug 2012)


posted on 07 Jan 2013, 22:42

24. sonisoe (Posts: 411; Member since: 06 May 2009)

Sony needs a stronghold in the android mkt, these devices should do it but only if these are priced a bit more aggressively...not too cheap but not the iphone price...

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 00:15

27. techloverNYC (Posts: 601; Member since: 20 Nov 2012)

I just got the Nexus 4 and I thought Im set guess im not. Any idea on the pricing yet?

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 00:52

29. GALAXY-STORM (Posts: 328; Member since: 13 Oct 2012)

Looks amazing and I think it will be priced around $750 unlocked.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 01:55

32. Bedz81 (Posts: 83; Member since: 30 Dec 2012)

I knew I shouldn't have bought the Xperia T, good phone but I'm excited over this.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 01:55 4

33. SIGPRO (Posts: 1431; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)

Finally i see dragon tail in a phone, it is way stronger than gorilla glas!

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 02:14

34. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

If I've been on a market for a new phone (satisfied with S3 so I'm not ), I wouldn't wait for S4.
This is a fantastic product.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 03:15

36. Bedz81 (Posts: 83; Member since: 30 Dec 2012)

I just see that it comes in purple, damn you Sony, i can see myself with this for sure now.....until i see Moto's "X phone"

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 03:18

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

I just wish it doesn't fail like the Optimus G did.

Any word on the battery size???

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 04:58

42. hypermagz (Posts: 18; Member since: 31 Dec 2012)

Hope they also include liquid damage on their warranty. ^^

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 08:08

44. DanielJDavidson (Posts: 6; Member since: 08 Jan 2013)

Does anyone really see the Galaxy S4 really being better than this? Sure it'll have a faster processor, but that'll be it and for 90% of users (myself included) S4 Dual-Core is a bit overkill, mind S4 Quad-Core or Exynos 5. I have Xperia P which has a NovaThor U8500 processor clocked at 1GHz and 1GB RAM - that's far from anything special, but it runs GTA III and GTA Vice City flawlessly and I'm yet to experience any lag. And that's not even half as quick as the Xperia Z! My point is that it doesn't matter how fast the processor is, a phone is only as good as the software runs and how well it runs it. I would rather spend my money on Xperia Z because both Xperia Z and Galaxy S4 will run flawlessly and will the user will experience no lag. But the difference will be that the Xperia Z has onscreen buttons, it's waterproof and the design is going to be a lot nicer than Galaxy S4. They're both Android devices, they run the same software. So the only things that should be taken into account are:

And as far as I can see, Samsung can only compete on usability and battery. Also, if you're playing the waiting game to get the 'best', then you're probably better off waiting until September for Sony's end of year flagship which will definitely better than Galaxy S4 OR the next Nexus device. But as of right now, the Xperia Z is the best Android has to offer. And no matter what phone you get, it'll always be overthrown just a few months down the line.

TLTR? --> Xperia Z vs Galaxy S4 - same software, 'waterproof' doesn't get outdated (processor does), none of them will be the best by this time next year, they'll both have as smooth performance as each other and right now Xperia Z is the best. Galaxy S4 won't be much better if at all.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 12:01 2

47. cripton805 (Posts: 1440; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)

Why wouldn't you take into consideration the hardware if it's much better? It does matter because newer games and apps will be made to run on Quad core processors and more RAM. No doubt, I think this will be a great phone, but why should I ignore all the other things that make another phone better? Also, I can absolutely guarantee that they WILL NOT have the same software. Samsung adds their different features that come in handy and so might Sony. So there will be differences in the software. I promise you that.

That's kind of a dumb thing to say.

posted on 13 Jan 2013, 15:51

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

You speak as if you've seen the S4. I doubt the xperia z will hold a candle to the S4. And also you say that the end of year sony will beat the next nexus device, hah, don't make me laugh, especially if the next nexus is made by Motorola. Maybe it will even be made by sony themselves (hopefully not). Sony are a poor brand for phones, they always come with the best of the previous years technology. For example, s4 pro. That was the king of 2012, and now sony are using it in 2013. Sony will be outdone yet again this year, and they will also fail to deliver software updates, and your phone will be out of date in a few months when they release their next flagship. Quite pathetic if you ask me. IMO stick to the nexus devices, or S4. And no, I'm not a samsung "fanboy", I've only ever owned 1 samsung phone, and that was a few years back. Not even an android device. And this is not the best android device out at the moment, the nexus is. Simple as.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 08:15

45. DanielJDavidson (Posts: 6; Member since: 08 Jan 2013)

@IHateApple - yeah, 2300mAh. Not fantastic, but enough for a day.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 08:31 1

46. takay0 (Posts: 144; Member since: 25 Mar 2012)

BEAUTIFUL! im just afarid of gettin again xperia! but that phone...i have no words... its perfect so far

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 12:45

48. emes360 (Posts: 13; Member since: 16 Sep 2012)

Oh my... perfect I'm getting it as soon as possible gosh

posted on 09 Jan 2013, 01:46

50. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

I'm afraid that sony won't use the momentum as they should and before they gain an upper hand in the beast race the competition (lg, moto and bunch of manufactureres from china and korea not to mention japanese) ill introduce theirs.
And this display...don't get me wrong. 1080p. saturated colors, etc....but those viewing angles...a constant problem with sony's(e.) handsets.
Another concern is this glass. What for?
When apple introduced the iphone 4 people laughted at the idea of using a glass to build a chassis. PA users were no different. Recently lg did the same to nexus 4. Now sony.
No matter how strong that kind of glass is supposedly it's just a ...glass. So it's easy to shatter ad this glossy finish on the back. Well, let's say it won't look the same after the firt week of usage.
Anyway, another monstrosity this time from sony.

posted on 09 Jan 2013, 04:22

51. christumaini (Posts: 27; Member since: 25 Oct 2012)


posted on 09 Jan 2013, 10:11

52. DanielJDavidson (Posts: 6; Member since: 08 Jan 2013)

My point is that it's retarded to hold out for a phone that'll have a slightly better processor and that's it. Because you know that the Galaxy S4 won't be waterproof. The Xperia Z will be just as future proof as any other flagship this year so why constantly hold out for something better when there's always something better around the corner? On average, a flagship only has 2 months of being the best phone. The only games that'll take advantage of current processors, won't even be made for another year. Phones are far too powerful for what they need to be at the moment so why the big deal over the processor when either way, everything will run perfectly. There will be no physical advantage of the Galaxy S4 unless you prefer Touchwiz UI to Sony UI (but even then there are launchers you can use). Look at the Quad-Core phones of last year, Galaxy S3 was a lot quicker than HTC One X but who honestly noticed any sort of difference? No one. And who ever will? No one. It's the same story here. No one notices the difference between extremely fast and a little faster so the numbers game is pointless. There's not going to be enough difference between any of the flagships for anyone to get one and then say "I wish I had got a different one".

posted on 10 Jan 2013, 09:53

55. cripton805 (Posts: 1440; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)

Trust me, being waterproof will not be my deciding factor in purchasing a phone. I dont go around dipping my phone in water and I dont live in Oregon where it rains all the time.

It will be the specs, form factor, and UI. Which is what will make these phones different. Also, Samsung makes great phones. It weird that you would assume
the GS4 will be so inferior.

I love the form and removable backing that the GS3 and Note 2 offers. So that has been all user preference. I dont think it feels cheap at all. If others dont like it, they obviously wouldnt buy the phone. Its still one of the best phones out right now in 2013!

posted on 09 Jan 2013, 10:21

53. DanielJDavidson (Posts: 6; Member since: 08 Jan 2013)

Just to clarify - I'm saying it's stupid to hold out for a phone for the sole reason of it having a slightly better processor. It's obviously not stupid to hold out for a specific phone for more than just that. Even I'm going to wait for the Galaxy S4 before getting this to see what Samsung have to offer. They might surprise me - but I doubt it. They disappointed me with Galaxy S3 and they'll probably continue to disappoint. Especially when you consider the Xperia Z will be the alternative plus cheaper. Though if you're going to hold out for a better phone, why don't you try Galaxy Note 3? That will be everything you hope the Galaxy S4 will be....

posted on 10 Jan 2013, 10:00

56. cripton805 (Posts: 1440; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)

I wouldnt want the note 3 because I dont want anything larger than a 5" screen. I love my GSIII and if you're dissapointed thats too bad. I havent had one problem with it. I can change my battery once it wears, change the backing once its scratched, add memory, it has 2gb of RAM, and I have a bunch of extra small but useful features. It has everything I want and need.

posted on 10 Jan 2013, 17:50

57. dermit88 (Posts: 20; Member since: 19 Dec 2012)

Still waiting on the 4.7 inch edge-to-edge waterproof/dustproof/shockproof MotoNexus with a hyperthreading quad core 14 NM process at 2.5 ghz with an Nvidia Kepler GPU running key lime pie....

posted on 10 Jan 2013, 19:54 1

58. cripton805 (Posts: 1440; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)

They will run eight cores by that time ;)

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