Lately mobile news has been producing quite a buzz over the introduction of “Google Edition” devices; first we see the GE Samsung Galaxy S 4, and shortly after we discover the GE HTC One. For the most part, we’ve seen mainly positive reactions regarding these devices (exceptions included). Good news comes today in the form of another Google Edition flagship device, and this time it’s from our friends at Sony with a GE Xperia Z.
Although the device has been confirmed by a few trusted websites, Sony themselves haven’t actually come out with a public statement confirming this addition to the Google Edition family.
The Sony Xperia Z was one of my favorite devices that I was looking forward to seeing this year, although it seemed that any sort of hype for the device was largely overshadowed by other flagships like the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Here in the U.S., it’s probably due largely in part that we still don’t have the original device available on any of our carriers yet. Perhaps with a Google Edition release of the device it can generate some more interest.
As we’ve discussed before, Google Editions is largely a competition of hardware features rather than software features, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. On the one hand the phone loses all of the features that made the phone unique – and not only that, AOSP strips these phones of any camera software that it may have been banking on to create a clearer, crisper image. On the other hand, you get these flagship devices with a clean slate to really do what you want with it, plus the added bonus of being able to get “timely updates” straight from Google, giving you a pseudo-Nexus experience.
When it comes to Google Editions, what exactly does the Xperia Z have to offer compared to other Google Edition models?
The actual specs of the device are nearly on-par with its competitors: a 5-inch 1080p HD display, quad-core S4 Snapdragon Pro processor, 2 GB of RAM, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, and 16 GB of internal memory with microSD slot that can support up to 64 GB of external memory.
Most notably, the Sony Xperia Z offers a tempting hardware feature that’s been highly praised by many, and that’s the fact that it’s a waterproof phone. Liquid damage is one of the most terrifying things that can happen to any type of electronic. If it happens to one of yours, you might as well start making funeral arrangements because it’s only a matter of time before the water seeps into the more important components of the device. But not if you have the Sony Xperia Z! Well, maybe you just have a better chance of it surviving in certain water conditions as the ports in the device have to be plugged up, not to mention it’s only mentioned to work in freshwater which means a day longboarding at the beach should probably not be in your Xperia Z’s itinerary during vacation. Regardless, extended effort to make the phone more waterproof than any other device certainly gives the Xperia Z somewhat of a boost over its other Google Edition competitors (as the GE Galaxy S 4 is a reincarnation of the original Galaxy S 4, not the dust-proof, waterproof Galaxy S 4 Active).
Another reason why the Xperia Z might out-Nexus its competitors is simply by the fact that Sony already utilizes on-screen buttons, which might make this the next best thing compared to a real Nexus device. The HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4 both have capacitive buttons, which for some really takes away from the true Nexus-like experience (which to me just sounds like they should wait for the next Nexus to arrive) but at least the Sony Xperia Z kind of gives people who are wanting an alternative to the real Nexus but would rather have on-screen buttons another option in the market.
The only thing I see really holding the Xperia back is the fact that underneath that pretty little device it’s still using a slightly outdated processor compared to its competitors. Considering the GE Sony Xperia Z is set to sell for around $650 (again, not entirely confirmed) which is the same price as the GE Galaxy S 4, you basically have to choose between waterproofing or a more powerful processor for that price. Nonetheless, the Xperia Z is still able to bring some new features to the table when it comes to choosing a Google Edition device even without the updated processor.
So readers, now I ask you: Does a Google Edition Sony Xperia Z tempt you to break into this new Google Edition fad? If not, which Google Edition device would you rather have?
Images via Clove, YourGadgetGuide