Sony Xperia Z raises expectations - review

2013-03-28 11:16
Sony will offer the Xperia Z as an alternative Android-powered smartphone. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Sony will offer the Xperia Z as an alternative Android-powered smartphone. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town – Sony is back and they've announced it with the launch of the Xperia Z smartphone.

The company has been through uncertain times and after splitting from Ericsson, the mobile division was re-invigorated with more "Sony-ness" according to the company.

The Xperia Z raises the expectations not only for the Sony device, but for all smartphones.

It's a substantial device. The first reaction from a mobile developer when he saw the phone was: "Woah".

It has a 12.7cm display that is uncluttered with a case that is one of the most indestructible on a smartphone. All the slots are neatly recessed and they a micro-SD card slot to expand the onboard memory of 16GB.

Even with much abuse (having a 6-year-old go wild with the phone), the device was no worse for wear and there were not even scratches on the Xperia.

Standard bearer

That has been Sony's focus with the phone that it hopes will take some of the glory - and sales - away from devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4, seen as the standard bearer of the Android platform.

The Xperia Z sports a 13 megapixel main camera which shoots high definition pictures and video. Sony has touted its HDR video which the company claims creates better footage, even with sharp light in the background.

Indeed, photographs and video appear to have richer colour even when shot with highly contrasting brightness. That said, while the Sony Xperia Z easily replaces your point-and-shoot camera, there are shots that are still extremely difficult to capture with a smartphone. But the number is decreasing rapidly.

In an effort to build user functionality into the device, it comes with native Twitter and Facebook apps that work right of the box to allow content sharing on the Xperia.

If you have a Sony smart TV, the smartphone also supports "Throw" which allows Xperia content to wirelessly play on another device.

Sony is leading the pack with its water resistant smartphone. While a large percentage of smartphone deaths are attributed to water damage, few manufactures have elected to build devices that are water resistant.

PlayStation

The Xperia can happily be used in the shower or have a rinse if it's dusty without any problem. We could not determine whether this would attract a lower insurance premium, though.

The Android 4.1.2 (Jelly bean) operating system is well-managed on the device and the device doesn't feel like an anonymous Android smartphone.

The Xperia is also PlayStation certified which raises the question about whether it will cannibalise sales of the PSP. Games render well on the device with 2GB RAM and 1.5GHz quad core processor and it's hard to see how gaming consoles can continue to exist.

The Sony Xperia Z has a recommended retail price of R7 999 and will be in stores in April.


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