Rumours around the Xperia Z started surfacing in December 2012 during the lead-up to CES 2013, with a full review appearing in Russian on Mobile-review.com as early as 18 December 2012.
Sony finally confirmed the device at the CES 2013 pre-show press day, along with its very similarly specced Sony Xperia ZL.
Both devices are good-looking and well-specced, and Sony’s user-interface customisations also don’t detract from the default Android 4.1 experience.
On paper there appears to be very little difference between the Sony Xperia Z and ZL, with the Xperia ZL presenting a somewhat thicker frame and bulging patterned back, offering greater grip.
Sony opted to go with a simpler, rounded rectangle form for the Xperia Z, along with a smooth flat back (which they term “OmniBalance design”).
All external connections, such as the micro USB charging port and headphone jack, are covered. According to Sony, the Xperia Z boasts IP55 and IP57 dust and water resistance so long as the covers are securely in place.
Both designs feel great in the hand, though the 5-inch form-factor is a little large for my taste.
However, the Sony Xperia Z seems perfect for those that have dreamed of having a large, weather resistant smartphone.
Taking the camera app for a spin revealed a typical smartphone camera interface with three notable features:
- Sony’s “Superior Auto” mode which reduces noise and blur automatically along with the usual automatic exposure settings and adjustment;
- High dynamic range (HDR) video recording;
- Taking 1 megapixel (MP) still photos while recording video.
One point of concern is that the Sony Xperia Z line is launching with Android 4.1 and not the latest version of Android “Jelly Bean” (4.2).
Sony has been notoriously tardy in getting updates out for its smartphones, which often take even longer to become available in South Africa.
That said, Android 4.1 remains a solid version of Android and in some cases Sony offers alternatives for features the older version of the mobile operating system lacks, such as its own type of lock screen widgets.
Will the price be right?
Overall Sony’s new line of Android smartphones look promising, and better yet, the Xperia Z has already been confirmed for South Africa.
Sony announced that the Xperia Z and ZL will start rolling out globally from Q1 2013, and in a press release issued shortly thereafter revealed that the Sony Xperia Z is expected to land in South Africa during Q2 2013.
Estimated retail pricing for the device is yet to be announced and it will be interesting to see how its pricing compares to other Android heavyweights when it becomes available later this year.
|Specifications||Sony Xperia Z|
|Dimensions||139 x 71 x 7.9mm|
|Operating system||Android 4.1|
|Display||5″ full HD (1080×1920) Bravia Engine 2|
|Processor||1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (APQ8064+MDM9215M)|
|Cellular data||HSPA / LTE|
|SIM type||Micro SIM|
* Jan Vermeulen is a guest of Samsung at CES 2013 in Las Vegas