- Vlad Savov , The Verge
Sony's best Android phone to date is merely decent by the broader market's standards.
- Mat Smith , Engadget
It's a relief to see Sony now making a concerted effort to make a premium phone -- and that's what this is.
As the flagship of the Xperia series, this phone is packed with features and hardware and marks a shift in focus for Sony to premium smartphone provider. Mat Smith of Engadget says “Once you get to look at the phone in person, all Xperias that came before it pale in comparison. The phone feels solid and you'd be hard-pressed to describe any part of it as plasticky.”
From the high-gloss glass weave case design of the phone to the Bravia Engine 2 and a five-inch 1080p display, reviews of the handset are positive. Chris Hall of Pocket Lint says, “If you’re not wowed when you see the Sony Xperia Z, then you should probably stop reading now. No tactile plastic, no dubious back covers, just a feeling of substance and, dare we say it, perfection.”
Other notable features include IPX5, IPX7 and IP5X ratings for both water and dust resistance, with rubber plugs and caps for the various ports on the device. Both Engadget and TechRadar tested the phone in full submersion and directed stream tests and report that the phone was unharmed. Mat Smith of Engadget notes, “It's rare to see such protection on a phone that's not being marketed as a rugged device, let alone a company's new flagship.”
Phil Lavelle of TechRadar describes the phone as “one speedy son-of-a-Sony” and says that performance is one of the first things users will notice. Unfortunately, there are some minor concerns many reviews noted as well.
One of the most common complaints in reviews was the quality of the loudspeaker on the handset. Mat Smith of Engadget says, “the speaker is tinny and, even on full blast, lacks punch during video playback.” Killian Ball of Cult of Android notes that the speaker “appears to be pretty small — and it sounds it. It’s not all that loud, and it’s a little dull.” However, most reviews note that the headphone jack offers clear audio and Bluetooth with most wireless headsets is flawless with no delays or problems maintaining sync with devices.
Another consideration is the screen. Sony’s OptiContrast display is based on TFT technology. This leads to a few issues with viewing angles and less than ideal viewing in bright lighting or direct sunlight. Comparing the display to the competition, Mat Smith says “its performance doesn't offer the same viewing angles, or outdoor performance, of HTC's Super LCD 3 screen. In fact, turn the screen away from straight-on viewing, and you'll see a grayish discoloring that starts to obscure what's going on -- especially under bright light.”
Reviews were also mixed on battery life, with reports ranging from just under six-hours from Engadget to all-day use from Pocket Lint. With a 2300-mAh battery, if you use your phone heavily, the phone will likely require daily charges. Fortunately, the mini-USB charging port will make finding travel chargers and other accessories a breeze.
Pocket Lint’s Chris Hall sums up the device well when he says “there’s a lot to like about the Sony Xperia Z. It is the strongest Android phone that Sony has produced to date, fusing power, design and features.”
The Good: Water- and dust-resistance, support for microSD cards, 1080p display, HDR video support and premium materials.
The Bad: Screen viewing angles, screen brightness in direct sunlight, weak battery and slow camera response times.