comes with a 5-inch TFT screen that supports 1920x1080p resolution and 441ppi pixel density. It runs on a quad-core 1.5GHz Krait processor with 2GB RAM and features 16GB internal storage, with 32GB microSD card support. This phone sports a 13MP snapper with LED flash on the rear and a 2.2MP camera in the front. You can look forward to 2G, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi for internet access in this phone, while files can be transferred via NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB 2.0.
The first thing you will notice about this phone is how compact and sophisticated it looks, despite a 5-inch screen. Sony has used on-screen keys in Xperia Z and the bezel above and below the screen is minimal, so you get a phablet that fits in the palm without any issues. The device follows the design theme that the manufacturer has used since last year and has a glass back. We reviewed a white coloured unit that did not attract too many fingerprints, though they may be more prominent in the red and black coloured devices.
The sturdiness of Sony Xperia Z sets it apart from the growing crop of smartphones with full HD displays. It can survive without any damage when dipped in 1meter deep water for up to 30 minutes and is resistant to dust. The glass used in the phone is resistant to scratches and will not break despite tremendous pressure, the company claims. When we tested the validity of these claims, we were not disappointed and the phone came out with flying colours. It is assisted in water resistance by all the flaps that cover each port of the body. This means that the microUSB port and microSD slot on the right as well as the sim-card tray on the left are covered and do not let water and dust in. Same goes for the earphone jack on top of the device.
What we did not like about the build of the device was that instead of a sim-card tray, Xperia Z has a very poor quality plastic sleeve, as compared to the metal tray used in HTC Butterfly, a rival. Another problem was that when struggling to open its flap, the plastic covering on the flap came off without much force, which hints at imperfect craftsmanship on Sony's part.
But overall, looks of the phone are striking indeed.
Sony Xperia Z Software:Sony Xperia Z comes with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and an Android 4.2 update is being readied right now. The stock OS is skinned with its proprietary UI that adds a few features that will be appreciated by buyers, but never slow down the phone despite heavy customisation.
One feature you get on this phone is 'small apps', which are basically apps that appear on top of the screen and can be moved around and resized. Samsung and LG offer these under the names Mini Apps and QSlide Apps, respectively.
On Sony Xperia Z, Sony offers only four small apps - Calculator, Notes, Voice Recorder and Timer, and if you want more, you can simply head to Google Play store. Other features on software side you can look forward to are deep Facebook integration, Face Unlock, handwriting recognition, Walkman Music Player, Movie Editor and Stamina Mode (battery saver). The phone is Playstation Certified and has access to a host of PS games optimized for mobile screen.
Sony Xperia Z Performance:Sony Xperia Z's quad-core processor is clocked at 1.5GHz and packs quite a powerful punch. We tried it out on Antutu, which is a compound test that tests devices on parameters like CPU performance, display, 2D and 3D graphics and microSD card reading/writing speeds.
We are happy to report that our review unit got an average score of 19104, matching those of HTC Butterfly and LG Optimus G (two of the most powerful smartphones in the market right now). So there should be no doubts about this phone's computing prowess.
Google's Project Butter and the powerful processor together ensure that there is never any lag. The battery lasts over half a day easily with Stamina Mode turned on.
Last year, a quad-core processor was the main feature that set flagship smartphones apart from their predecessors and this year, the distinguishing aspect is a full HD display.
Sony Xperia Z has a beautiful screen that supports full HD resolution, but it lacks the contrast that adds life to images and videos. Viewing angles and sunlight legibility (even with the brightness cranked to the max) of the screen are also below par. However, the pixel density of 441ppi ensures there is no pixilation and content appears crisp and vivid.
Sony Xperia Z Camera and Multimedia:
A 13MP primary camera is strapped on the back of Xperia Z and comes with two modes - standard and superior. You get to click 13MP photos with the former, while latter restricts the image size to 12MP. However, the advantage of superior mode is that optimises various parameters in accordance to the scene you are capturing in order to get the best possible result. The photos clicked with this mode are much better than that in standard mode.
However, the image quality in both modes is far from what we expected from such a powerful camera. The images suffer from slight noise under lowlight conditions and colours are not true. But the contrast level and white balance of the pictures are good. If you want to click photos for Facebook and Instagram, this camera will do well, but do not expect it to replace your point and shoot camera despite the 13MP sensor rating.
The 2.2MP front facing camera does its job well during video calls.
Coming to video playback, Xperia Z benefits from its full HD-capable screen that handles high resolution videos at high bitrates with ease. Sony Mobile Bravia Engine 2 makes video viewing a thoroughly enjoyable affair by making images clearer, sharper and more natural.
The audio output also pleased us with xLoud mode turned on. The video player pulls details of movies you have added to your library from the internet, just like Infinity feature of the music player does for lyrics.
Well, Sony's biggest rival in India right now is HTC Butterfly, which also has a full HD screen and an equally powerful processor. Other rivals include Nokia Lumia 920, BlackBerry Z10, while it will also have to contend against Samsung Galaxy S IV and LG Optimus G Pro when they hit India.
Nokia Lumia 920 and BlackBerry Z10 boast of a different user experience as compared to Android smartphones. Nokia's flagship boasts of an amazing camera and WP8 OS, which offers a refreshing change from Android and iOS interface.
On the other hand, BB10-powered Z10 has unmatched security features and software optimisations that will please corporate buyers. But both of them lose out to Xperia Z due to its more powerful processor, better display and durability.
Now let's talk of a more evenly matched opponent - HTC Butterfly. During our review, we found it had an equally potent chipset and gorgeous screen, among other features. Sony gains an edge over Butterfly due to its sturdier build quality and relatively higher water and dust resistance. Butterfly looks more elegant than Xperia Z, though opinions were divided within our team. However, the rather noticeable price difference of Rs 6,500 puts the odds in the favour of Sony's new flagship model.
As Samsung Galaxy S IV and LG Optimus G Pro are yet to arrive in our hands, we reserve our judgement in this matter.
Those who believed in Sony's capabilities will be graciously rewarded with a thoroughly enjoyable time with Xperia Z. It is a very capable smartphone that offers a fluid user experience and top notch computing power and a beautiful screen. It gains a considerable edge over rivals due to its relatively lower price tag despite similar features and will provide all that you need from a top-end smartphone. It is a very good phone when you consider the features it offers for Rs 38,990, whereas rivals cost Rs 45,000-plus.
We feel that if you are in the market for a full HD smartphone with enough number of apps without crossing the Rs 40,000 price barrier, then Xperia Z is the phone for you.
What we like about Sony Xperia Z :
Display performance during video playback
Water and dust resistant
Scratch resistant and shatter proof glass
What we don't like about Sony Xperia Z :
Camera quality below expectations
Sunlight legibility and contrast of display
Price of Sony Xperia Z: Rs 38,990
Key specs of Sony Xperia Z :
Display: 5-inch TFT touchscreen with 1920x1080p resolution and 441ppi pixel density;
Operating system: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), planned Android 4.2 upgrade;
Processor & RAM: 1.5GHz quad-core processor, coupled with 2GB RAM;
Storage: 16GB internal memory with microSD support up to 32GB;
Connectivity: 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB 2.0;
Camera: 13MP rear camera with LED flash and 2.2MP front snapper; and