The Sony Xperia Z [Review]



The Xperia Z is super thin.

The Xperia Z is super thin.

Sony has ditched plastic for the Xperia Z and gone for a more premium build that sees then handset’s tempered glass front and back panels encased in a fiberglass frame. The company chose not to use Gorilla Glass for unknown reasons, but the glass it did go with seems just as reliable — though it does appear to pick up a lot more fingerprints.

The Xperia Z is fairly comfortable to hold, and it has a rubbery feel around its edges that offers a decent grip. The handset’s SIM slot, microSD card slot, micro USB port, and headphone jack are all concealed behind little pop-out panels that have become commonplace on Sony products; there is no removable back which means there is no removable battery.

These help the Xperia Z lock out dust and water, but they do feel a little cheap as well. On the review unit I had, they didn’t always close up tightly, meaning they stuck out a little and kind of spoiled the Xperia Z’s otherwise high-end feel. That’s kind of a small sacrifice to pay for a waterproof smartphone, however.

The Xperia Z promises to withstand up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

The Xperia Z promises to withstand up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. You won’t want to take it deep sea diving, then, but if you drop it in the bath while playing Angry Birds, it should survive. It felt very odd putting a smartphone anywhere near water, but I ran my review unit under a faucet for a little while — in an effort to impress friends more than anything — and it showed no signs of damage whatsoever.

While the Xperia Z isn’t the smallest smartphone there is, largely due to that 5-inch display, it is very thin at just 7.9mm. I carried the device in my pocket all day during testing and it was just as comfortable as the significantly smaller iPhone 5.


The Xperia Z’s display is really quite beautiful, and it is by far the handset’s best feature. It boasts a 1920×1080 resolution — that’s the same resolution offered by most HD TVs — with 441 pixels-per-inch. Thanks to Sony’s Mobile BRAVIA engine, it has awesome color, too, and it’s a real pleasure to have when playing games, watching movies, or enjoying photos.

The Xperia Z's display is gorgeous.

The Xperia Z’s display is gorgeous.

In fact, it’s the nicest display I’ve ever used — though bear in mind that I’m yet to use the HTC One or the Galaxy S4 for any extended period of time.

There is one issue here, however: The Xperia Z has some really poor viewing angles, and it only takes a slight tilt in any direction to produce washed out colors and a loss of contrast. This won’t be a major issue to most — no one really uses their smartphone at an angle — but it’s definitely there, and it’s a shame Sony couldn’t have prevented it.

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