The smartphone industry is running out of tricks and what manufacturers resort to now is just throwing every gimmick they have at new models to try and entice consumers away from other brands. It gets less exciting by the minute. But then Sony arrives with a new phone that blows them all away – and does so by offering something elegant, which is the new differentiator.
There are a lot of new Android phones on the way that I haven’t had a chance to use yet – such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. So this might not be true for long, but right now the Xperia Z is the best Android phone on the market. There. I said it.
Without a single gimmick in sight, this latest Sony masterpiece just does everything right. The screen is a tad large at 5” but it somehow doesn’t feel bulky in hand and The world of Android has a new champion. For now... this is the first large-screen smartphone I’d be willing to sacrifice extra pocket space and single-handed use for.
The screen is remarkably crisp and clear with Sony’s Bravia technology built in – the same thing that powers its television sets. It looks amazing.
The 13MP camera benefits from Sony’s long legacy in photography and takes really good photos, even in low light. It also shoots high-definition video using HDR technology that combines images together and produces the best result of that composite, which also helps in low light. The only thing I didn’t like about the camera was its panorama mode, which doesn’t compare well to the iPhone, for example, or even Android’s built-in feature.
Then there’s the robustness of this phone. It can handle being dropped as
TBA well as hard knocks and is water-resistant. I tested the latter feature by literally taking the Xperia Z for a swim in my pool – and it survived. Killer feature.
The water resistance does come at a price however. All the connectors and ports on the Xperia Z are covered with water-tight seals that you need to yank out to charge or even connect headphones – but this seems worth it for a phone that survives almost any catastrophe.
The big mistake made by most Android manufacturers in trying to differentiate by adding their own skins to the Android operating system, which is ostensibly a Google product. The clean, out-of-the-box version of Android is great, but gets bloated by third-party extras. Sony is not guiltless in this department, but its interface is cleaner than most and additions – like Sony’s car app for use while driving – feel like thoughtful and are useful.
This isn’t a perfect device. The screen is frankly too big and I’d of liked more than 16GB of internal storage – although you can easily add more via a standard micro SD card slot.
The Xperia Z nails all the important stuff and adds robust features where they matter most. For our money this is currently the best Android device – and perhaps smartphone overall – currently on the market. With things moving as fast as they are, however, that might not hold true for long...
Waiting for the