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Sony Xperia Tablet Z - Software and Performance

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Sony Xperia Tablet Z - Software

Like most 'non Nexus' Android devices, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z has its own custom UI rather than vanilla Android. Not only that, it's a little disappointing to discover it's not running the most recent version, opting instead for version 4.1.2.

Sony's custom skin is far from the most offensive Android overlay - it lacks the garish bombast of Samsung's TouchWiz, for instance. But neither is it an unqualified success.

At the top it adds the option for four 'quick launch' icons. A nice touch, until you realise the touch zones for each icon are a little too tight for comfort - we often went for one only to hit the icon directly below on the main homescreen.

Like LG and Samsung, Sony's also taken to adding 'small apps' that sit above the main interface and other apps. These are launched via a small icon along the bottom and include a calculator app, notes, a drawing/annotation app and even a pop-up browser. They're useful in a clumsy kind of way, but they don't feel essential.

Another common theme, one started by Sony in fact, is the ability to control your TV and other home AV appliances using the Sony Xperia Tablet Z via its built-in IR blaster and dedicated universal remote app.

If you're interested in this specific feature, however, prepare for disappointment. It's far from a full 'universal remote' experience. It only supports rough matches against product type and brand, rather than specific models. You then have to choose between a list of 20 or so 'types' of remote to find the one that best matches your device. It struggled with the Virgin Media Tivo box, and subsequently crashed continually. The fact it only works properly in landscape mode doesn't help - it feels bulky and unwieldy compared to an actual remote.

Elsewhere, the experience is as you might expect of Android. That's a blessing and a curse: a blessing because you enjoy excellent integration with Google services and Google stock apps; a curse because it still feels like Android badly lacks the depth of tablet apps it now enjoys in the mobile space.

That's less of a problem on smaller tablets where mobile apps work reasonably well, but larger tablets don't have that luxury. Most mobile apps scale up, of course, but they don't make good use of the extra screen estate

We'd also add that the interface doesn't feel quite as slick and smooth as recent Androids with the most up-to-date software. It's only a small point, but another that tips the balance in favour of the Google Nexus 10.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z - Performance

Some slight lag aside, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is a very fast tablet. Its 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon P4 Pro processor doesn't quite match the latest and greatest such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 found in the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it's noticeably faster than the Nexus 10's quad-core processor and shares the same Adreno 320 graphics core as the S4.

In the popular, and free, AnTuTu benchmark (a test which covers CPU, GPU and memory performance), the Sony Xperia Tablet Z scored a very good 18,386, 26% higher than the Nexus 10. This won't be immediately obvious in normal use, but it means the Sony runs intensive games better - not least because it has fewer pixels to drive than the Nexus 10. This score marks the Sony Xperia Tablet Z out as one of the fastest Android tablets currently available. Games like Real Racing 3 pose no problems.

Abrar Faiyaz Helal

February 26, 2013, 1:30 pm

good to look at.......


February 26, 2013, 6:07 pm

Not shure about the resolution, on gsmarena they have 1200 instead 1080.


February 28, 2013, 7:54 pm

I think it's definitely one of the best looking tablets, i may get one depending on the final price. Can you tell me if it has hdmi out? thanks.


March 3, 2013, 8:27 pm

Looks cool and would buy one just for the sake of owning it if I had the money and wanted a tablet. Yes people would pay the extra for a thinner lighter tablet. Lets face it people buy the ipad just because its an Apple product with a letter 'I' in front of its name regardless of specs.

ashok kumar

May 1, 2013, 4:54 am

how much price in india


May 9, 2013, 1:42 am

No people buy the iPad because it runs ios. Because it is the easiest, most intuitive, best looking user interface in the existence of the universe. Because it has currently the best app ecosystem. Of course there are iSheeps but you can't disregard the fact that what makes the iPad so appealing is not the specs but the experience.


June 11, 2013, 1:45 pm

i got the 4g ready version and so far not disappointed it is fast looks great and when customised with your own home screens has no issues with launching what you want when you want one thing you didnt mention is miracasting and the ability too 'throw ' images to a suitably equipped tv this function is so cool and as i have a late model sony tv has no obvious drawbacks as the 2 work seamlessly together agree it was a bit expensive for what it is but at least you can drag and drop via a pc or nfc straight too sd card any file you want without having too use a 3rd party programme that i feel is a bit nosy time will tell if sony will keep up the support on their currently flagship tablet but so far so good


June 12, 2013, 4:30 am

you use an adaptor through the micro usb socket for hdmi but if you have wifi direct on your tv you can stream video and pictures without need for wired connection and also has miracast which lets you show our tablet screen on flat panel tv either equipped with miracast function or usng a miracast dongle through tv usb socket


June 14, 2013, 7:22 pm

Well I don't agree. I think they buy it because of the brand and app store.

IOS is not the easiest or best looking system - not by a long shot.

David T

June 21, 2013, 10:40 pm

"but it's noticeably faster than the Nexus 10's quad-core processor" The Nexus 10 has a dual core but based on A15 architecture.

Minor correction.


August 3, 2013, 10:25 pm

Unusual review. I think it feels a lot more of a premium product than any iPad, mostly thanks to the slim design. I wonder how much pressure the reviewer was putting on the screen because I haven't noticed any flex and I'm told I am heavy handed.

To consider the port flaps to be a flaw when they are there for a purpose - waterproofing - is just plain stupid. The fact that it is waterproof is a major feature so they're an integral part of the tablet. It's a bit like complaining that you are more exposed to the elements in a cabriolet with the roof down! What exactly were you expecting from a waterproof device?

The universal remote works perfectly with my (admittedly Sony) telly, and my Sky+ box though there is a separate app available for Sky+.

Strange that it seemingly lags behind the Nexus 10 yet that isn't what the test results say? Maybe I'm a bit slow to keep up because i haven't noticed any lag. Screen res is as good as anyone will ever need. Many reviews seem very picky over this but frankly it's getting silly to discuss minor differences between tablets which are barely noticeable unless you are regularly using both side by side.

Overall I think this is a fantastic piece of kit by Sony which fires them straight back to the top. I spent a long time reviewing and testing, via local stockists, various other tablets including the iPad and the best offerings from Samsung and the Nexus but kept going back to the Sony and I have not been disappointed. 10/10 from me, I use it for hours every day and my only complaint is the keyboard seriously needs to be programmed to recognise commonly used words when using the swipe function - 'to' usually becomes 'too', 'the' becomes 'three' and so on, but then who uses a tablet for most of their typing?

jay jay

October 21, 2013, 3:56 pm

its the most amazing tablet. i have the nexus 10 . its better then the nexus 10, all it has is more pixels but from there nothing else and its a little more heavy. compare to the previous sony xperia tablet s weight super less then. nexus 10. So yeah this sony its extremely amazong.!


November 4, 2013, 6:50 pm

It has access to the psn network. Other tablets don't. If you own other Sony products this is a great thing. Plus the option to use the google apps is a plus too.


February 26, 2014, 6:30 pm

Thanks Colin


January 1, 2015, 6:26 am

What I want to know is how well this "waterproof" tablet does at marine GPS navigation? Ever since my iPad1 died from a dollop of sea water I've been looking for a replacement, without going broke on a Tough Tab. Has anyone loaded Navionics on this Z and gone for a test cruise far from cell range yet?


March 30, 2015, 11:18 pm

DO NOT BUY THIS! There are many problems that start happening 13 months after you buy! 1000's of people on the internet ran into the same problem I did. I RARELY used my tablet. Then it wouldn't power on. Then I would do the same stupid soft reset then hard reset which erased everything. This worked for a while when the Tablet would never turn on! So after it might work or might not, on the 13th month it now NEVER powers on. I've tried every reset and nothing happens just a blinking red light on the side. PIECE OF CRAP! Not even under warranty! So they want you to buy get the 12 month warranty then it will die after a year. BRAVO SONY! BRAVO!!!

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