x PhoneArena is hiring! Reviewer in the USA

Sony Xperia Z Review

Sony Xperia Z 8.5

Posted: , by



Sony has traditionally been strong in the camera department. Even then, its smartphones haven't always had the best shooters, which comes to show the heated competition in this space. For the Xperia Z, however, the company from Japan has used its newest sensor, the 13-megapixel Exmor RS. This new sensor allows for some neat new features like HDR video recording and an advanced burst mode. Will the quality of its photos be high enough, though? With capable opponents like the Lumia 920, iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III, Sony's Xperia Z will really have to show us something spectacular. Let's take a look at its camera UI first!

We enjoyed working with this camera interface, due to its simplicity and optimized layout. There are still many different settings and options to play with, but most of them are neatly placed in a single sub-menu, making the UI feel simple and clean.

The camera interface of the Sony Xperia Z is simple and optimized - Sony Xperia Z Review
The camera interface of the Sony Xperia Z is simple and optimized - Sony Xperia Z Review
The camera interface of the Sony Xperia Z is simple and optimized - Sony Xperia Z Review
The camera interface of the Sony Xperia Z is simple and optimized - Sony Xperia Z Review

The camera interface of the Sony Xperia Z is simple and optimized

The 13MP camera with Exmor RS sensor of the Xperia Z is fine, but nothing to write home about. Details in outdoor, daylight conditions are a bit muddy, and the images tend to come out a bit dark at times. The built-in HDR mode can fix this in most situations, though not always. Colors are on the colder side, which we don't really like, but overall the results are tolerable with no major issues.

Indoor images taken in brightly lit rooms are mostly OK – there's a bit of noise but nothing out of the ordinary. As the light starts to get dimmer, the photos naturally start to become muddier and noisier. The LED flash will allow you to take a picture of something even in complete darkness, but do not expect any pleasant surprises. The good thing is that the camera manages to stay away from any color anomalies when shooting indoors, so the photos look natural for the most part.

The 1080p video recording is quite smooth, but once again the details level is medium at best, so the overall video quality fails to impress. The interesting thing about the camcorder of the Xperia Z is that it can capture HDR video. This option may come in handy in some low-light or night situations. You can see the two night video samples below - one of them is taken without HDR, and the other one is with HDR. As you can see there, HDR makes the image a big brighter, but also introduces quite a lot of unpleasant noise in the scene, so it'll really depend on the specific situation whether or not it's worth it to use HDR video.

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z 3
Samsung Galaxy S III 2.5
No data
Samsung GALAXY Note II 3.4
No data
No data
No data
LG Optimus G 3.30
No data
No data
View all


The Walkman music player is quite cool and simplistic - Sony Xperia Z Review
The Walkman music player is quite cool and simplistic - Sony Xperia Z Review

The Walkman music player is quite cool and simplistic

Of course, the Sony Xperia Z is a wonderful phone to watch video on. The display is gorgeous and very big so you can easily watch full-length movies on it. It supports all the popular formats, and even if you manage to find a video that is not playable with the stock player, you should be able to fix this by downloading a capable third-party player from the Play Store.

The Xperia Z comes with a Sony headset in the box, the sound it provides is quite enjoyable. Sony has even provided additional ear-gels so that you can find the right size for you. And finding the right size for you is pretty important, by the way. When you're listening to music with that headset, make sure that it fits tightly, because otherwise you won't be enjoying any bass. The Walkman music player is quite cool and simplistic. It lacks “bonus” features like the “Music Square” from Samsung's phones (not a big loss), but has all the necessities such as some sound enhancing tools (ex. xLOUD) and an equalizer with many presents, including a custom option. If you don't like the Walkman player, the Xperia Z also comes with the standard Jelly Bean player, as strange as having two music players might be.

The picture and video galleries have also been customized by Sony, and we have to admit that the result is very good. The new apps have a very fresh and consumer-centric design. The Sony touch has worked quite well here.

Sony Xperia Z Review
Sony Xperia Z Review

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z 0.37
Samsung Galaxy S III 0.3
Samsung GALAXY Note II 0.30
LG Optimus G 0.28
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z 67
Samsung Galaxy S III 79
Samsung GALAXY Note II 80
LG Optimus G 84
View all

  • Options

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 12:11 7

42. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

Exactly...lol. If I based what buy on 1 website's review, I would have neve got the Droid X.

Consumer Reports is the exception when it comes to cars, and maybe cameras...lol. For everything else I go to many sources.

In fact....I and probably all of us would probably have an iPhone if I, we based it off of reviews....

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 11:00 18

1. zuckerboy (banned) (Posts: 898; Member since: 22 Dec 2011)

only 8.5 ? I though buy xperia z but xperia death for me now

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 11:14 63

9. boosook (Posts: 1442; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)

LOL! Do you really base your choiche of what to buy or not to buy on a rating on a single website? Go and try the product yourself, or at least check and compare reviews on multiple websites, youtube and forums from users that you know are reliable.
What can disappoint someone can be positive for others, for example I like sharp edges and hate rounded phones...

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 11:36 6

22. Wiki_jaan (Posts: 704; Member since: 24 Jun 2012)

now wait coz beast is coming soon..............S

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:34 4

71. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)

Another reason (for me at least) to skip the Z - no VZW service. The GS IV will certainly be available on VZW. And maybe the HTC will be available on VZW as well.

Sony should have learned from Nokia about not releasing a phone on VZW. It tends to hurt your U.S. sales.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 12:17 16

48. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)

oh please, 8.5 isn't bad at all. by the looks of your comment it looks like you never had any interest in the z in the first place and just need smthing bad to point out. anyway lets look at the con shall we. disappointing camera? i agree it isn't what it was hyped up to be but it still isn't 'dissappointing'. its not the best but it isn't bad and is still an excellent camera. plus, rating is different for every site and anyway what did the note 2 score? a 9, which is just a point 5 away and is also due to the extra functionality of the S pen. also many of the things are subjective so you have to choose what you like rather than what other people like.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 12:34 10

57. RiseAgainst94 (Posts: 281; Member since: 03 Mar 2012)

Sad that the emerging leader in almost every class of camera can only come up with "mediocre" image quality for their flagship device.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:11 12

67. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

The camera was like I always said average. It's actually disappointing as per Ray S. My HTC Droid DNA has a better camera, it has the 1080p HD screen & the Qualcomm Krait S4 Pro. Also I have had all that tech since Nov. of 2012.

People should skip this phone & get the new HTC M7/One or the Samsung Galaxy S IV, because those 2 phones will be out weeks after the Xperia Z if not sooner.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:41 4

74. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

That is a GREAT point.

I like the Sony Xperia Z but my problem is that it's too similar to last years HTC Droid DNA/Butterfly J.

The Xperia Z is 2012 tech not 2013 tech like the new HTC M7/One or the Samsung Galaxy S IV.


posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:42 23

75. danny_a2005 (Posts: 208; Member since: 06 Oct 2011)

Ray S just gives 9.0 and up to apple devices even though they are all the same, if Joooooohn V had this review done it would have at least 9.0. I think this phone is perfect... And I'm buying it even if it had a 1.0 review

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:49 16

77. mansoor (Posts: 4; Member since: 13 Feb 2013)

8.5 is bad because it deserves a lot higher score than that.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 13:59 4

79. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

The M7 is going to be even more outdated than the DNA. the Qualcomm 600 isn't ready yet and the Tegra 4 will probably suck, so the M7 will be a 4.7 inch S4 pro phone that is the same size as the DNA and bigger than the Xperia Z. Talk about fail.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 14:00 39

80. Ray.S (Posts: 368; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)

Actually, I haven't done a single review of an Apple device, so you don't know how much I would give it. :P

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 14:12 7

86. MartyK (Posts: 906; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)

He got you confuse with Alan F. , now that person loves some Apples...hahaha

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 14:29 4

89. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

You say that like it's a fact. The S600 is sampling right now, and it's going to be available in Q2. So that mean HTC could announce it in late February, and have it launched a little bit more than a month later when Q2 starts.

Also, the Tegra 4 will definitely not suck. With 28nm true A15 cores, and they're buffed up GPU which might be up to par with the PowerVR SGX554MP4 in the iPad 4, I think the Tegra 4 would be a pretty big improvement from the S4 Pro.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 14:40 11

94. ahmed_ali_yossef2010 (Posts: 164; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)

gsmarena preview said the camera is excellent and the video is awesome and you said that the video failed to impress ? explain

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 15:01 9

104. gescalona (Posts: 9; Member since: 04 Apr 2011)

Ray S. gave 8 to the HTC Desire C and 8.9 to the Samsung Galaxy S III mini. So, the Sony Xperia Z is just a bit better than the HTC Desire C, and worse than the Samsung Galaxy S III mini. really Ray S.?

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 15:25 5

106. Emily1985 (Posts: 127; Member since: 08 Nov 2012)

Nokia Lumia 920 Review score: 9.0
Sony Xperia Z Review score : 8.5
Nokia Lumia 920 Win !!!!!

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 15:41 4

108. feres13 (Posts: 306; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)

Dude it's like comparing an audi Q5 to a Porsche cayenne, they're not in the same class, compare the audi to the bmw x3 and the porsche to the x5, the S3 mini is a midrange phone and the xperia z is a high end phone.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 16:01

112. HDShatter (Posts: 1021; Member since: 17 Jan 2013)

@SuperAndroidEvo this phone competes with the HTC One specs, the HTC One is a droid DNA with some monior upgrades like 13mp camera. The s4 pro is still the best processor in phones in 2013 right now this isn't outdated till a phone gets a Tegra 4, snapdragon 800 or exynos 5 quad core which won't happen till this summer.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 16:14 6

119. AshishRomea (Posts: 145; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)

your biased ! this needs atleast 9.0 , common whats even wrong with the phone ?

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 18:18 4

137. gescalona (Posts: 9; Member since: 04 Apr 2011)

8.9 for a midrange phone and 8.5 for a highend phone ? is that make any sense to you? I wasn't compare the phones, i just saying that Ray S. believe that the S3 mini is better than the Xperia Z. according to his reviews

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 18:27 1

138. Birds (Posts: 1171; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

Mmmmmm... Feisty....

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 18:38 4

141. Birds (Posts: 1171; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

He doesn't think the SIII is better, Ray S. just isn't 100% satisfied with the handset considering that is is supposed to be high end and only performs "well" in some areas and not "spectacular".....

For the SIII mini, it is the most pleasing handset with the particular hardware limitations it was built with. Do you get my point now?

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 19:21 5

145. hung2900 (Posts: 962; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)

Don't make the fake quote, man.
GsmArena just told us a little bit about camera user interface and some functions without evaluating the quality , so where could you find the words"excellent" or "awesome"?

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 19:58 6

148. DerryAhmad (Posts: 284; Member since: 05 May 2012)

The Xpera Z got 8.5 while the iPhone5 go 9.0 just doesn't seem right.
Also It'd also be nicer if we get to see the camera comparison between the Z and iPhone5/Galaxy S3/Lumia920 in the review to see where it stand in the competition.

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 22:21 3

155. chaosnightmare (Posts: 178; Member since: 20 May 2010)

the brand i guess, sony sucks so much

posted on 13 Feb 2013, 23:22 5

160. soshi (Posts: 154; Member since: 08 Mar 2012)

If this xperia Z consider as midrange phone with same price as sIII mini it will score 15/10. It is going to be weird if low end phone score 1/10 because the comparison also with high end phone.

Score should showing us not about what feature it has but how good is that feature qulity. For example, Sony xperia A with single core processor but optimize it speed at max will score better than Sony xperia B with quad core but perform only slightly better than dual core phone.

We can read all the feature in specification sheet, so score review need to tell us how this feature work in reality

posted on 14 Feb 2013, 00:00

162. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

Not according to what I read. The Qualcomm 600 is still a ways away and in that same article he said that the Tegra 4 was no competition and similar to the S4 pro. So yeah...

posted on 14 Feb 2013, 01:42

166. mickaahmed (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)

dnt blv in phonearena they r the most worst mobile review site :S they r anoyning people cuz 1 of my frnd living in japan he bought a xperia z he told me that its most beautiful set in current market and its camera is 1 of the best in mobile he compares its camera with other populer divices only nokia pure view's camera is little bit good otherwise this divece is far batter than any other like galaxy s3 note 2 iphn 5 and some htc im really dispointed with phonearena :P in beanchmark tests xperia z is far ahead to any other divics

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Want to comment? Please login or register.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

OS: Android 5.1 5.0 4.4.4 4.4.2 4.3 4.2.2 4.1.2
view full specs
Display5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (443 ppi) TFT
Camera13.1 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Quad-core, 1500 MHz, Krait processor
Size5.47 x 2.80 x 0.31 inches
(139 x 71 x 7.9 mm)
5.15 oz  (146 g)
Battery2330 mAh, 11 hours talk time

Latest stories