The Sony Xperia Z has stood out as one of the hottest gadgets of CES 2013. It’s plain to see why. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s bold, it runs the latest version of Android and this is what people seem to be looking for from their mobile phone at the moment, but what about the details?
Sony’s first phablet looks to be more than just the headline specs, so here are the real Sony Xperia Z details of which you should be taking note.
Top of the line chip
Sony has previously been the guy tp bring a knife to a gun fight when it comes to raw processing power in the Sony Xperia range of phones. The company was adamant at MWC 2012 that the Sony Xperia S, T and P would do just fine against the quad-core competition with their single and dual-core CPUs. They didn’t.
This time, the Sony Xperia flagship device comes with a top-of-the-line 1.5GHz asynchronous quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with 2GB RAM just to give it an extra kick up the backside. That’s as impressive a chip as in any mobile gadget at the moment and ensures that the Xperia Z will not be underpowered.
That 1080p Full HD screen
Who else has got 1080p on a mobile phone at the moment? Anyone? Anyone? Huawei, that’s who. There’s one on the Huawei Ascend D2 also announced at CES 2013. Both the Xperia Z and the Ascend D2 are 5-inch phones and, consequently, have resulting pixel density ratings of 441ppi. Let’s bear in mind here that Apple’s proud, industry-leading Retina Display comes in at 326ppi and has just officially been left at the start line blinking in the dust.
Of course, numbers aren’t everything but there’s no reason to believe that’s all the Xperia Z is about. The Bravia technology behind it seems just as impressive. The engineers behind the company's TV line have come up with the Bravia Mobile Engine 2 which is, of course, a generation on from the 2012 phones. Qualitatively speaking, it’s hard to tell what this will mean in full but we were seriously impressed by the video quality with our hands-on time.
It’s not a sexy subject as far as mobile phone tech goes but, with more of us reliant on smartphones than ever before, how well our phones can deal with the daily grind is a potentially crucial area for success. Sony has included two features with the Xperia Z to sell this phone as something that will last.
On the one hand is the battery life. The battery unit itself is not enormous: a 2400mAh battery is fairly normal capacity for something with a screen of this size. It’s the Stamina Mode software that is hoped will last you from dawn till dusk. It promises up to nine days of standby time by automatically shutting down battery-draining apps whenever the screen is off and starts them up again when the screen is back on. If that sounds like a problem, you will be able customise it so that some of your apps are exempt from this treatment if they’re of particular importance to you. If this works as Sony says it will, it’s going to be revolutionary.
The other inclusion of note, as far as reliability goes, is the added bonus that the Sony Xperia Z will be waterproof. Many are the people who’ve killed smartphones in the past by accidental dunks in puddles or, worse, toilets, and the idea of a top device that comes with in-built protection to such a sticky end is very appealing indeed.
Low-light video power
Three was the new 1.5, five was the new three, eight was the new five and now it seems that they’re missing out 10 altogether and making 13 megapixels the new standard for top-end mobile phones. So, it’s of little surprise that that’s what the rear-facing camera of the Sony Xperia Z is all about. What should be of note, however, is that Sony’s new flagship heralds the arrival of the world's first image sensor with HDR (High Dynamic Range) video for smartphones. In real money, that’s going to mean far better results at lower light levels.
Currently, video on most mobile phones is good enough outdoors during the day but very grainy and often blurred the minute you step away from natural light. HDR should help to improve quality on this front. Quite how dramatically might make a significant difference to the Xperia Z’s success once the rest of the competition gets their act together. Speaking of which...
It’s ahead of the game
The final and really clever move from Sony is not only to make the Xperia Z as good as it can possibly be but to also kick it out of the door in very timely fashion. The Samsungs and HTCs of this world - Sony’s big competitors in this space - will wait until MWC 2013 in February to launch their top devices for the year. Now it might well be that they both bring out something similar but the fact that Sony has done it a month and a half early means that Sony got it in first and also did so when there was no one else shouting.
More importantly, the Sony Xperia Z will be on the shelf from the beginning of March and that’s going to give it at least a month or two’s head start on whatever the competition can come up with. We don’t have to tell you that gadget-lovers are an impatient bunch. Why wait until the late spring/early summer to get what you want when it’s already in front of you? A very timely move.