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Sony Xperia Z review


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

Review Date: 26 Mar 2013

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: Free, on a £26.00 per month, 24 months contract.

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

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.

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User comments

Windows 8

Looks very good, but it is facing stiff opposition from the new windows 8 phones.

By marcliron on 6 Mar 2013

Windows 8

Looks very good, but it is facing stiff opposition from the new windows 8 phones.

By marcliron on 6 Mar 2013

More of the same

Yawn. Another me too Android phone which is just like the others.

By tirons1 on 6 Mar 2013

Sory Sony you lost me!

Having been a keen early adopter of first Ericsson then Sony Ericsson phones I gradually fell out of love with them for the utter mess they made of Android for early adopters.

For example, they've finally developed a tool for migrating an old SE phone to Android. Did they have one 2 years ago when it was needed? Nope.

The late roll out of Gingerbread for the Arc and Arc S was bad enough, but the Sony desire to build in all kids of bloatware killed the usability, and poor design (under 400 meg RAM available to android) made what should have been good phones sluggish and horrible to use. The awful battery life was the final straw.

Finding out that phones less than 12 months old won't be upgraded to the latest OS, when identically specced newer models will be was the final straw.

My last phone was a Samsung S3 and frankly, I haven't looked back. Ta Ta Sony.

By wondermouse on 7 Mar 2013

The selling point for me...

Is the IP rating.

I'm a biker, and to be able to just clip the phone onto my handlebars without the need for complicated waterproof(ish) cases is brilliant.

Why hasn't anybody figured out sooner that making a £500 device that will be used in all weathers, waterproof, is a great idea? And earlier IP rated phones such as the Motorola Defy don't count.

Underpowered rubbish mostly (I had a Defy for a week - it was shite.

By skooptech on 7 Mar 2013

Camera image quality

You claim - image quality is high and how it matches the Samsung Galaxy s3 for detail and saturation levels. However what you omitted to mention was that the Samsung galaxy s3 was comprehensively beaten in image quality by the iPhone 5 and even the iPhone 4S before that.
then the screen which is meant I be a deal maker with the highest poi of any smartphone in the world turns out to have less colour accuracy and brightness than the iPhone 5 too. so ultimately it's 2 biggest selling loints in quality terms are actually inferior to the latest iPhone.

By Jonny_Bingham on 7 Mar 2013

"This makes it possible to read web pages formatted for desktop without squinting or straining your eyes"

For the reviewer maybe. Those of us with less perfect vision prefer to just enlarge the text.

AS someone who has had surgery on both eyes, the screen could be so sharp that it could cut a hole into another reality (ala. Phillip Pullman's "The Subtle Knife") and it STILL wouldn't be any easier to read.

This is one of the reasons that I use Atomic over Safari on my iPad. Better zoom and text size controls.

Sometimes (text) size really does matter.

By Alfresco on 8 Mar 2013

Where the hell is ....

Where the hell is .... any info in your Spec.(which is absolutely important) about Operating System of Sony Xperia ?!?! Does it have any Wi-Fi connection ?!?!?

By Kriskret on 10 Mar 2013


Just got one of these on my upgrade from Vodafone. £2 for the device.

By bet1001 on 21 Mar 2013

Xperia Z Fails to Connect

Okay, just taken delivery of the Xperia Z (C6603) and downloaded the latest firmware before starting to configure the phone. And time consuming it is but now here's a funny thing. The first job I attempted to do was to set up the Wi-Fi connection to my wireless router at home... and this is when it all went wrong. Just like many people, I have my wireless router set so it doesn’t broadcast its SSID to every potential hacker in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately it turns out Sony decided not to make this phone compatible with hidden SSID’s. Yes, that’s right - the only smart phone in the top ten list that I can’t use at home, or my friends, or anywhere else where a Wi-Fi connection is set not to broadcast its SSID - unbelievable... and from Sony of all organisations!

By Leoparkes on 19 Apr 2013

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