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Sony Xperia ZR Review
Introduction

It looks like Sony is going for a Samsung-like approach when it comes to its portfolio of Android handsets, as the company is continuing to release multiple models that tend to be dangerously similar to one another. The latest example is the Sony Xperia ZR, which can safely be considered a somewhat toned-down Xperia Z.

Still, with a 4.5” 720p screen, a 13-megapixel Exmor RS camera and the Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset in tow, the Xperia ZR is certainly not your average mid-range model. What's more, the phone has kept the Xperia Z's signature ability to be water-resistant, which will undoubtedly boost its appeal even further.

With the Xperia ZR, Sony is looking to offer a solid contender in the upper-mid-range space that will go up against devices like the popular HTC One mini, the Nexus 4, or the Galaxy S III, which can still be found at most retailers. It's more than an uphill battle, going against such tough opponents, but hey, if the product is as good as it seems to be on paper, it could easily give those competing devices a run for their money.

Sony Xperia ZR Review
In the box:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall-charger attachment
  • Earphones with additional ear-gel sizes
  • Documentation

Design

While the Sony Xperia ZR has kept most of the Z's design DNA, it definitely shows that it's not exactly a premium model due to its significantly thicker profile of 10.4 mm, versus the Xperia Z's remarkable 7.9 mm. Despite that, the phone feels comfortable in the hand and not bulky.

The choice of materials for the Sony Xperia ZR is another thing that reminds us of its mid-range nature. Pushing its front glass panel down, we notice that it's not made of the most firm type of glass, while the back side of the device is made of a very ordinary plastic that is sure to leave you indifferent at best. Unfortunately, it attracts a lot of fingerprint smudges, but at least it's likely to repulse bad guys that might be willing to get a hold of your smartphone.

The Sony Xperia ZR feels comfortable in the hand and not bulky - Sony Xperia ZR Review
The Sony Xperia ZR feels comfortable in the hand and not bulky - Sony Xperia ZR Review
The Sony Xperia ZR feels comfortable in the hand and not bulky - Sony Xperia ZR Review

The Sony Xperia ZR feels comfortable in the hand and not bulky



Handsets equipped with 4.5” displays used to be considered pretty big, but now that 5” smartphones are commonplace, we actually see them as relatively compact offerings. Not that the Xperia ZR is small or anything, but it's definitely easier to handle compared to those 5” beasts. For example, the ZR's dimensions are 5.16 x 2.65 x 0.41 inches (131 x 67.4 x 10.4 mm), while the GS4 measures 5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm). In terms of weight, though, the Xperia ZR isn't the lightest handset with its 140 g, (the 5” GS4, for example, weighs 130 g). Still, that doesn't make the Xperia ZR feel heavy.

Sony Xperia ZR

Sony Xperia ZR

Dimensions

5.17 x 2.65 x 0.41 inches

131.3 x 67.3 x 10.5 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

HTC One mini

HTC One mini

Dimensions

5.2 x 2.49 x 0.36 inches

132 x 63.2 x 9.25 mm

Weight

4.30 oz (122 g)

HTC One

HTC One

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

Sony Xperia ZR

Sony Xperia ZR

Dimensions

5.17 x 2.65 x 0.41 inches

131.3 x 67.3 x 10.5 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

HTC One mini

HTC One mini

Dimensions

5.2 x 2.49 x 0.36 inches

132 x 63.2 x 9.25 mm

Weight

4.30 oz (122 g)

HTC One

HTC One

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page


The tight plastic covers of the 3.5mm jack and microUSB ports - Sony Xperia ZR Review
The tight plastic covers of the 3.5mm jack and microUSB ports - Sony Xperia ZR Review

The tight plastic covers of the 3.5mm jack and microUSB ports

Due to the smartphone's water-resistant nature, its microUSB and 3.5mm ports are protected by tight plastic covers, with the one of the 3.5mm connector being somewhat difficult to remove. Watch out not to break your nail while struggling to open it!

We aren't really fascinated by the execution of the physical keys, all of which are situated on the handset's right hand side. Basically, all of them — which includes the power/lock key, volume rocker and camera shutter — work fine, but aren't particularly “clicky” and comfortable to use. What's more, the volume rocker has an unusual position near the lower end of the Xperia ZR's right hand side, which makes it not as easy to reach as it would have been if it was in its traditional position towards the upper end. Meanwhile, the camera button is so tiny that you can almost fail to notice it's there.

The power button, camera shutter and volume rocker are on the right - Sony Xperia ZR Review
The microUSB port is on the left - Sony Xperia ZR Review
The bottom side of the phone - Sony Xperia ZR Review


Sony Xperia ZR Review
Sony has made a really poor job of the SIM card tray, which is made of an extremely thin piece of rubbery material. As a result, we accidentally damaged ours the second time we tried to pull the tray out, as you can see in the image on the left. If you have the Xperia ZR, be sure to handle the tray with extreme care, because it's very fragile!



Display

The Sony Xperia ZR isn't ready to make many compromises in the display area. The sizable 4.5” screen sports a more than decent resolution of 720x1280 pixels, which works out to a satisfying pixel density of 323 pixels per inch. In comparison, the HTC One mini packs a slightly smaller display at 4.3 inches, but having the same 720p resolution, its pixel density comes in at 341 ppi.

Back to the Xperia ZR, its LCD TFT display can get reasonably bright at about 470 nits max, which isn't a staggering number, but manages to keep the screen visible under daylight.

Overall, we're pleased with the image quality of the screen, as its colors appear well-saturated and lively. Meanwhile, contrast is pretty decent in your normal, straight-on viewing position, though viewing angles are once again pretty poor (same as on most other Sony Android phones), so as soon as you start tilting the phone to one side, things get very washed out.

Thankfully, the Sony Xperia ZR hasn't missed out on the Mobile Bravia engine, which makes media content viewed on the phone's screen appear more appealing. It does nothing more than to apply some software enhancements to the image, but we enjoy it.



FEATURED VIDEO

110 Comments

josephnero

Posts: 771; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

deserves more than that.come on PA

Kurai unregistered

It's Ray S. after all . . .he's an apple fanboy, what would you expect ?

TechFreak

Posts: 15; Member since: Mar 22, 2013

Sony smarthones so far have been average.. Deal with it..!!!!

Kurai unregistered

It's a goddamn mid-ranger . . .

TechFreak

Posts: 15; Member since: Mar 22, 2013

So is HTC One Mini but its better..

SonyXperiaNexus

Posts: 374; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

....hahahahaaaa, lol. the ZR has a better processor, GPU, 2gigs of ram and is water+dust resistant. the One doesnt even have microsd slot for storage expansion.

amiroo

Posts: 269; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

sony is always one step behind htc and samsung..

yudi.nemesis

Posts: 1127; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

I’m sure right now every manufacturers is one step behind Samsung. but are you sure Sony is always one step behind HTC??? one step behind in what?

amiroo

Posts: 269; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

innovation / design / premium feel / ui / sound / screen maybe remain anything else ? but in lag sony is monster for sure.

yudi.nemesis

Posts: 1127; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

If you talk about innovation HTC is way behind Sony. Sony have won many design award, and absolutly have premium feels and looks. Please don’t talk about sound because Sony is of the best when it comes to sounds and audio quality/technology (i’m talking about walkman). Screen last time i check HTC doesn’t have screen tech, those so called SLCD that HTC used is just IPS LCD made by other manufacturer and the one who developed IPS is Hitachi. Let me show you just few Sony screen tech Triluminos, WhiteMagic, Floating touch, Opticontras, TrueBlack Display, Super Top Emission(OLED Displays), Pixel Eyes, Vistarich wide viewing angle technology for 180 degree left/right and up/down viewing. + the one who make flexible display. Lag??? maybe you want to borrow my Xperia Tablet Z or my brother Xperia V and show me that “lag monster”

amiroo

Posts: 269; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

correct sony one of the best in sound but not in z.. gsm and PA reveiws clearly show it.. also in screen z have a such problem that u know better than me!! to many name of any parts of tech isnt important when all of them Not collected in one perfect phone.. its clear htc one`s screen easily over shade z` screen.. not matter how!!ips-lcd3 and .... my eyes tell me one` screen better than z like to many sites often point it . also in sound z cant compete with boom sound speakers(with beat software) and even ability that called dual filltering bering 4 u the best term of call quality with clear sound in htc one` sound.

yudi.nemesis

Posts: 1127; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

Hey why you off topic you said “Sony is always one step behind HTC and Samsung” Everything what i have said is all about Sony, if sony use S-Master Chipset and Magnetic fluid speaker in the upcomin Honami it will crush HTC One everybody know that HTC One have better screen and speaker than Xperia Z. but the problem is the one you mentioned is “SONY” not Xperia Z. and HTC is no way near SONY in almost everything

amiroo

Posts: 269; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

cus i talk about flagship phone dude.. we are only users and whats matter for us sony or htc.. we always attract to the best phone specually with high price then going for best.. ZR is good enogh and it must deserve atleast 7/10 but u dont belive sony repeat its mistakes each time>> -boring ui -good screen(but not best anytime) -per inovation that attract us(maybe watter resistance only)but sony need to great software more than over ago.

yudi.nemesis

Posts: 1127; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

Hahaha flagship??? something really bad must be happen with your head, first this is Xperia ZR review an upper mid range phone and some people compare it with HTC One Mini. Xperia ZR is better because with about the same amount of money it have something more to offer than HTC One Mini. Please don’t talk BS about ui and software because from what you have said you doesn’t anything about it.

SonyNguyen

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 26, 2013

i don't agree with boring UI part, I regularly visit some sony forums and quite a lot of samsung, htc users come there to ask for Xperia launcher port for their phone. This is just a matter of taste, I personally think Sony's UI is very nice, simple, easy to use yet stylish to some extend. You may want customise but after you try most of them you will want to come back to stock and Sony's stock is pretty nice. Besides, Sony continuously update their UI through updates unlike samsung with its cartoonist UI

yudi.nemesis

Posts: 1127; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

let me tell you once again stop post some BS and stay on topic.

skyguy7567

Posts: 148; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

I'm very happy with my Xperia Z. I think the speaker is great. I was playing music through the speaker and the sound was wonderful. My mum admired it too. HTC One has dual speakers so obviously it is better XD but the screen I don't think that the Z is worse than the One.

yudi.nemesis

Posts: 1127; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

According to Gsmarena loudspeaker test Xperia ZL with single speaker have better result than HTC One speaker

yudi.nemesis

Posts: 1127; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

The only problem with Sony is until this day they never use their full power.

amiroo

Posts: 269; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

http://www.phonearena.com/news/HTC-One-grabs-Best-Device-award-at-Computex-2013_id43880 almost in every tech sites htc one was selected number one 2013..techradar-technobuffalu-phone dog-mwc- IDEA and ...about sony!!??i didnt see anything and still im waiting for one.

rgxVOiD

Posts: 440; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

http://www.xperiablog.net/2013/01/14/xperia-z-wins-a-whole-host-of-best-of-ces-awards/ Xperia Z's CES 2013 award are given by: Cnet, Computer Act!ve, Engadget, Gizmodo, GottaBeMobile, Laptop Mag, Mobile Geeks, PC World, PC Pro, Popular Mechanics, Stuff, TechnoBuffallo, TechRader, Ubergizmo,The Verge Did you said something?

amiroo

Posts: 269; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

sorry but z even isnt in top 5 mobile by People's and expert`s Choice Rankings: http://www.phonedog.com/rankings/smartphones/ in the end 2013 u will sure z will not to top 5 ranking.. wait and see dude.

rgxVOiD

Posts: 440; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

Top 5 by phonedog? Phonedog is still relevant? lol Do you live in the past? No one cares about phonedog anymore. Get over it, Z got more awards than your precious One and that's fact

Hassan420i

Posts: 24; Member since: Jun 23, 2013

What a joke... Xperia Z is behind Lumia 925 ranked by experts.. Seriously phonedog?? u called them experts??

rgxVOiD

Posts: 440; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

And also, Computex. It's in Taiwan. Where did HTC originate from? Taiwan. So obviously, it would win in Computex.

AnukulVcool unregistered

long ago it was....worlds first phone with snapdragon 800 processor is xperia z ultra, and first company to announce 4.3 jellybean upgrade for their phones is sony.

tadaa

Posts: 267; Member since: Apr 18, 2013

Nah ray has become a wp fanboy lately

Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4764; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Ray S just went full retard with this review! I actually thought this device is better than the XSP, hardware wise. SP got a higher score...that's mind boggling.

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

Xperia ZR
  • Display 4.5" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 13.1 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Quad-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 8 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 2300 mAh(13h 3G talk time)

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