Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - Value: Price: Simon Din­gle

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...


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