It's time for a PhoneDog Snapshot Review, where we take our typical two-part review and condense it down into a tiny little video that's loaded with information! Today, the Sony Xperia Z.
The Sony Xperia Z is the best smartphone the company has released to date. It brings its smartphone lineup into the high-end tier in every way possible with a fantastic build quality that blows past the older Xperia T. It sports a 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU with a gorgeous 5-inch 1080p HD display, 13.1-megapixel camera with 1080p HD recording, HSPA+ connectivity in the United States (LTE in select non-US markets), a 2,330 mAh battery, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Sony's UI. They've stepped it up in both the internal and external department, and they're finally leveraging the value of the Sony ecosystem with connected accessories and Sony-themed apps like Movies, WALKMAN, and Sony Select.
The Xperia Z comes along after the Xperia T, and is the second real flagship Sony device to shed the Ericsson branding. It moves from a dual-core to a quad-core processor, a larger display that's now 1080p (the new trend in smartphones), more RAM, a newer version of Android, and more. Essentially, this an improvement in every way from the Xperia T.
Like the HTC One and LG Nexus 4, the Xperia Z's build quality is industrial and gorgeous, with sharp curves and glass all around. It will inevitably please those Android fans longing for build quality similar to that of the Apple iPhone 5. Glass and metal are the must-have smartphone materials right now!
How's the software?
Running Android 4.1 with Sony's UI, the Sony Xperia Z is up to par with the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Note II, and other high-end devices that are on the market (or coming soon). Sony's UI still doesn't seem to be as evolved as Samsung's TouchWiz and HTC Sense, but it offers some unique applications like Socialife (formerly Timescape) and multitasking applications in the Recent Apps area called "small apps." You can add different small apps from Google Play, adding to the level of customization.
The build quality here is fantastic. The phone is gorgeous, incredibly fast, and the UI touches like multitasking via "small apps" in the Recent Apps menu are value-adds that will do well amongst mainstream consumers. I hope to see it on several US carriers - it's a solid competitor to HTC, Samsung, and LG's offerings. The water-resistance and dust-resistance come in handy too.
Sony's UI is toned down in comparison to past iterations, but it could use an overhaul all around to get up to par with TouchWiz, Sense, Motorola's UI, and the other popular Android UI variants in the market. Considering Sony's brand recognition, the company needs to push the ecosystem as much as possible. While they're at it, put a bigger battery in the phone. 2,330 mAh is cutting it for a 5-inch, 1080p display.
Sony's Xperia Z is an incredibly solid step forward for the OEM, and combined with Sony's hardware and software ecosystem, they have a product that can really compete with the powerhouses that are Apple and Samsung. That said, this phone needs to come to the United States, and Sony needs to work hard to ink as many US carrier partnerships as possible. Carrier partnerships combined with strategic marketing, and this could be a winner across the board.