Sony Xperia Z review

26 Mar 2013

The sharpest screen, fast components and ample battery impress, but we still - just - prefer the Samsung Galaxy S III

Price when reviewed: 
498inc VAT
5

Current high-end smartphones concentrate on providing Retina-levels of display clarity and, while we’ve been impressed by a procession of high-resolution handsets, the world is ready to move on. Sony’s Xperia Z throws down the gauntlet with a groundbreaking development: it’s the first phone to land on UK shores with a 1080p screen.

The 5in screen’s boundary-stretching resolution and 441ppi density trounces the Samsung Galaxy S III’s 720 x 1,280, 306ppi 4.8in panel. It’s the sharpest screen we’ve ever seen on a phone, and the difference can be seen up close, with the naked eye. The Sony’s screen is just a little bit better, with crisper images and sharper text.

Sony Xperia Z

This makes it possible to read web pages formatted for desktop without squinting or straining your eyes, and games, movies and icons all benefit from the increased clarity. It’s worth noting, however, that not all of the phone’s 1,920 vertical pixels will always be available; the lack of physical or discrete touch buttons means a 126-pixel band is often given over to home, back and menu buttons.

The IPS screen’s measured brightness of 409cd/m2 is middling for this type of panel (the Nexus 4 and iPhone 5 measured 486cd/m2 and 582cd/m2) and the contrast ratio of 454:1 can’t compete with the Samsung’s AMOLED panel, which has perfect contrast. With the Galaxy S III also offering more saturated colours, the Xperia slips back on quality.

On the outside

The pixel-packed screen comes inside an extremely impressive bit of hardware. It measures a ridiculously thin 7.9mm from front to back (0.7mm slimmer than the Samsung), and it’s exceedingly well made, with both front and rear panels constructed from shatter-resistant glass. Sony has used the same material to construct the edges of the phone, and it’s all held together in a frame made of glass-fibre polyamide.

Sony Xperia Z

In design terms, it’s certainly more solid than Samsung’s plasticky Galaxy S III, and we think it looks sleeker too, with its clean, uninterrupted lines only disturbed by the volume rocker and aluminium power button on the right-hand edge.

That’s not all, though. Sony has also taken steps to ensure this handset is protected against the elements. Adherence to the IP57 standard means the Xperia Z is protected from dust ingress, and that it can survive complete submersion at a depth of 1m for up to 30 minutes.

Details

Price ex VAT Free on a £26/mth, 24mth contract; SIM-free, £415 (£498
Price inc VAT £498
Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £26.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider www.buymobiles.net
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4

Physical

Dimensions 139 x 71 x 7.9mm (WDH)
Weight 146g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 2.00GB
Camera megapixel rating 13.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 5.0in
Resolution 1080 x 1920
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android