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Sony Xperia Z Review - Multimedia, Battery Life, Connectivity and Verdict

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Sony Xperia Z Multimedia

A handset that has multimedia routes at its core, the Sony Xperia Z builds around strong handset capabilities with fully ingrained video, audio and gameplay capabilities.

Capable of producing strong audio output from the unit’s inbuilt speaker, Sony’s latest flagship Android handset ticks all the required multimedia boxes required to set it out as a true smartphone leader yet is not without its faults.

Pumping out crisp, clear tones across a broad, perhaps slightly shallow and bass-weak sound stage, the handset’s integrated speaker is infuriatingly located in prime hand real-estate when holding the device in a conventional landscape or portrait manner. Muffling the device’s output, app-based gaming is severely diminished by audio that is clouded by stray fingers.

On mobile gaming, the Sony Xperia Z is a strong performer, utilising its hefty 1.5GHz quad-core processor to launch even taxing applications such as Real Racing 3 in suitably prompt time. What’s more, pairing this powerful CPU offering with an Adreno 320 GPU and 5-inch 1080p Full HD display, and the visual results are stunning. The days of comparing mobile gaming to a PS1 title are long gone, with the Sony Xperia Z, we are well into PS2 territory.

Sony Xperia Z

Although the pair of in-ear headphones boxes with the Sony Xperia Z play host to a low quality, extremely cheap plastic construction, in terms of audio performance, they are far from the worst to come bundled with a high-end handset.

Arching back to the handset’s screen and the device’s movie playback options are superb. As previously mentioned, viewing angles are not the best but overall image quality is certainly up there. Vibrant, sharp and with little depleting distortion of blur, for video consumption the Sony Xperia Z is one of the best.

Satisfying all your needs, with simple drag and drop transfer methods, the Sony Xperia Z supports all the usual file types including the obvious MP3, WAV and MP4 options.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z Battery Life and Connectivity

As impressive as the Sony Xperia Z might be in other areas, in terms of battery life, the handset is a bit of a dog, churning through the power reserves of a sizable 2330mAh Lithium-Ion battery in well under a day based on moderate usage.

Further compounding these battery concerns, the sleek, seamless design of the Xperia Z means that the battery cannot be changed, ruling out the possibility of carrying a spare and pushing users to alternative options such as battery boosters like the mophie Juice Pack Universal PowerStation Pro.

An area not usually associated with build quality issues, the power plug that comes boxed with the Sony Xperia Z is a rickety plastic affair, with a retractable centralised top prong that feels unnervingly loose. Wobbling at the slightest touch, the plug’s prong feels dangerously fragile when inserting or removing from a socket, a task that is made even harder by the accessory’s lengthy form, meaning plugging in behind furniture or in hard to access areas is out of the question.

On a connectivity front, the Sony Xperia Z ticks all the relevant, expected boxes and a few less developed ones. Playing host to usual collection of integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, HSDPA and GPRS connectivity options, the latest Sony handset also benefits from the 4G ready compatibilities and integrated NFC technologies.

Although these two more advanced connection methods might not be relevant to many users right now, their inclusion helps future proof the phone for the impending tech rollouts set to hit early into the two year contract.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z Verdict

A mixture of high-end handset supremacy and a few small niggling issues, the Sony Xperia Z takes the Japanese manufacturer so close to smartphone superstardom, only to fall at the final hurdles.

Overall, the Sony Xperia Z is a device that impresses on first use, continues to please over time and which, thanks to its high-end specs collection, will remain future proof well into your two year contract. That said, the battery concerns surrounding the device are hard to overlook.

With the IP57 waterproof coating lining up as an inspired addition that we now covert on all future handsets, the quad-core CPU and 5-inch Full HD display of the Sony Xperia Z take it so close to becoming the next must-have handset. However, struggling to achieve close to a day’s standard use severely knocks the Xperia Z’s footing in our eyes and is an issue that could well be its downfall.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Camera 8
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7
  • Screen Quality 9
  • Usability 8
  • Value 8
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Jedibeeftrix

January 8, 2013, 8:14 am

love the IP57 water and dust proofing, this will be very tempting on a handset too large to use with an otterbox style protective case.

Kevin Gordon

January 8, 2013, 1:36 pm

Nice looking phone. Is being water proof really required though? One of the disadvantages of that is the charging port will obviously have a rubberised cover - my pet hate is fiddling around when wanting to charge. I like having an easy to see and easy to plug charging port.

meerkat82

January 8, 2013, 4:10 pm

Does the waterproofing mean that you can use the phone with wet hands, it's still responsive?
This looks like the best android phone out there - the Samsung's are awfully plasticky and nothing else is catching my eye either (HTC, LG). This is probably my next phone. Just hope Sony don't cock it up somehow and sell us short

nanoktom

January 9, 2013, 8:43 am

According to a review in a local newspaper, the phone has a feature called Wet Finger Tracking. I guess, the name speaks for itself.

Saurav S

January 12, 2013, 6:42 am

Sounds promising. I'd have have gone for it if it had a smaller screen, say about 3.8" or so..

Mattias

January 31, 2013, 6:41 pm

Just buy a charging dock for it, I have one for my Xperia V and it's brilliant. Cheap aswell (Sony Original)

karzan

March 8, 2013, 1:16 pm

hi . Sony Xperia z it's the best

I like Sony Ericsson and I'm just use Sony Ericsson

simon t

March 8, 2013, 9:07 pm

8/10 for the best phone ever made? Terrible, terrible review.

Nate Ebner

March 8, 2013, 9:25 pm

Interesting review. The battery life seems to be sadly inevitable, but the excess heat issue. Isn't that a bit of a deal breaker? I mean if it is too hot to speak into for more than 10 minutes, then it is hardly a functional phone, and if it is uncomfortably hot to handle when using for more than 10 minutes, then it loses usability for media watching, and any prolonged reading etc you might want to do.

Nate Ebner

March 8, 2013, 9:26 pm

The best phone ever made according to who?

Evan

March 8, 2013, 10:04 pm

Yes it works fine with wet hands, even in the shower. The waterproofing is an amazing feature. Its one downfall was battery life. Fingers crossed this is firmware issue that may be fixed by Sony soon. If it wasn't for that we would have scored the phone higher. We'll keep you posted.

Evan

March 8, 2013, 10:06 pm

Where does it say the best phone ever made in the review? If battery life was better and it didn't get so excessively hot it could have scored higher.

Evan

March 8, 2013, 10:09 pm

I think waterproofing is a killer feature (but then I've killed an S3 in water, a big wave doused by iPhone 4 and my missus managed to drown her HTC on a wet camping trip). Wireless charging would have been very complementary to it though.

Captain Kay

March 9, 2013, 11:35 am

Of what I have read elsewherethe phone supports wireless charging, you could use the LG or Nokia wireless chargers if that is the case, but the phone for sure has speciall contacts for charging without opening a cover like Mattias is saying. The dock for that cost around $20.

Also the heat issue you are talking about appears when running games which presses the cpu and gpu to the max. I think it is inevitable for that to happen since you are putting a lot of pressure on the chips inside. I do not think that there is a phone out there that would not get hot doing that. If your phone gets hot during normal usage then you have a faulty product and you have to change it.

Steve Lane

March 9, 2013, 1:18 pm

I have a new Experia Z from Virgin and I have had no problem at all with heat. I am wondering if the review phone was all it should be? The battery life can be improved by the use of built in power saving modes.

Steve Lane

March 9, 2013, 1:19 pm

See my comment to Nate.

Nate Ebner

March 9, 2013, 2:34 pm

That seems quite likely, because if it was a systematic problem, then surely they wouldn't release it. I was slightly surprised that it scored as high as an 8, given the magnitude of the heat problem, because if that was common to all the handsets, then I'd never use it.
Are you enjoying your new phone? How would you score it?

simon t

March 10, 2013, 8:59 pm

I am saying it. Giving a phone like this an 8 out of 10 is insane. Name a better phone? It doesnt suffer from that gastly amoled screen which has horrible screen burn issues and awful colour saturation, its water proof, its got the best android camera, its got the best screen, a cocktail of sony perks like bravia, exmor rs and the playstation store. I mean, what more could you want.
The best you can come up with is a smeary mess over time and an average battery life?

Andrew Sharpe

March 11, 2013, 10:19 am

I'm really excited about this phone. The build quality looks incredible and the specs even better. I'm usually a big iPhone fan because of their design and build (no horrible plastic), but this beats the iPhone 5 hands-down: http://versusio.com/en/apple-i...

Things like the waterproofing and NFC show that Apple dropped the ball a long time ago - it's great to see other big brands like Sony keep on innovating. I just hope it's really not too good to be true....

Evan

March 11, 2013, 12:15 pm

I will be spending some time with the phone (not the review phone - we've got a second one in) and will be updating this review in the coming weeks in case it was a review handset issue.

Evan

March 11, 2013, 12:16 pm

It gets much hotter than and S3 or iPhone 4S when playing Real Racing 3

Pg

March 11, 2013, 2:23 pm

I think water proofing is a great feature and should be standard on pretty much all phones. Can only wonder at the number of wasted phones due to accidently falling in water.

Assuming the water proofing process is environmentally friendly, it would be a great addition to all phones. Whilst I've never wanted to make a call in the shower (will be happy to stay wondering about that one!) I've had to jump out to answer one wondering if I'll break the phone due to handling the phone with wet hands.

Mark Armitage

March 15, 2013, 7:44 am

Initially I had the problems with the battery life and phone getting hot in use but after a few days that abruptly disappeared and the battery life is now excellent and it doesn't heat up much in use. Suggest you test it again after using it for a week. The phone is brilliant.

mikaeljanssonbe

March 22, 2013, 8:54 am

The battery life isn't fair since the process mediaserver has a bug causing it to consume all available CPU resources, causing it never to go into standby mode. It's not supposed to use 62% of the battery life, rather hover around zero when unused by anything playing media (video, music).

Searching around tells me about broken media files sometimes causing the mediaserver to hang. It would be very interesting to see the "estimated time left" and real-world performance with mediaserver running correctly.

See e.g. http://communities.sonyericsso...

rajan p

March 22, 2013, 1:39 pm

Two days back I bought a Sony Xperia Z.. This is my first smatphone.. I am switching from Samsung Hero..

I like the Camera (But I expected more and disapointed).. Best Video Recording.. Superb Screen..

Bad Sound Quality. Bad battery backup.

The battery experience is terrible I say.. Its heating a lot when reading ebooks.. Battery seems to dry soon.. 10% for 15-20 mins.. Not sure its an issue.. Need to monitor it for another day.. I dont even inserted a SIM.

Will i get a replacement if its an issue or I am doomed?

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