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Xperia Z hands-on: Mammoth roundup [Video]

Now that the dust has settled on Sony Mobile’s CES reveal, we thought it would be a good time to bring you our customary hands-on roundup. Today we’re focusing on the Xperia Z, but will publish another post tomorrow on the Xperia ZL. This roundup truly lives up to the word ‘mammoth’, linking to 27 sites in all.

Whilst putting the list together it was quite clear to us that the tone around this phone is very different compared to other Xperia phones released in the past. The previews are almost unilaterally positive, with negative points coming across almost as nitpicking. Indeed, the one common cautionary thread running through the impressions was that whilst Sony has done a great job, we still have to wait to see what the likes of Samsung and HTC will announce at MWC in February. Overall, Sony has done a great job with the Xperia Z launch and we can’t wait to get hands-on ourselves in due course.

Xperia Z hands-on roundup

Android Authority: “CES 2013 is underway in Las Vegas and we’re walking the floors of the show in search of the most interesting new Android smartphones, tablets and other devices. By far, one such handset is Sony’s recently announced Xperia Z, the company’s flagship device for the year.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OMQd0GZyJA

Android Central: “Once again Sony’s opted to use on-screen buttons, and there’s an extremely thin bezel, meaning the front of the Xperia Z is covered almost completely by its 1920×1080 “Full HD Reality” display. As you’d expect for a screen packing a ridiculous 440ppi, the Xperia Z’s display is extremely sharp. Some Sony displays have suffered from washed-out colors and poor viewing angles, but the Xperia Z seems to have made some strides in this area. The Z’s viewing angles didn’t seem quite as wide as the Droid DNA we brought along for a side-by-side comparison, but it’s still a great-looking display.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43JSi6SoiOQ

Android Police: “The hardware of the Z is beautiful – I love Sony’s elegant, minimalist design aesthetic. The front of the phone isn’t as pretty as the ZL, I’d argue, but that’s nitpicking since both are fairly similar. The back of the Z is particularly gorgeous – one sleek slab of glass, while the ZL’s is a bit more drab, and sports a rather conspicuous faux-chrome ring around the rear camera lens. However, both phones are far from ugly. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Sony knows how to make an elegant phone.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up2TVlNE8QE

Ars Technica: “The Xperia Z was the only new handset prominently mentioned at the company’s Monday press conference. It feels much more heavy duty than its counterpart, the ZL and that scratch-resistant chassis is certainly a magnet for fingerprints. As with previous Xperia models, the power button is placed right where the thumb can comfortably press it without having to reaching up to the top of the chassis to shut off the display.”

Cnet Asia: “Powered by the latest screen technology–Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine 2–the display was stunningly clear and razor-sharp. And although we’ve handled 5-inch smartphones before, the Xperia Z doesn’t feel unwieldy in one hand–even in this writer’s small hands. Based on its specs and our brief hands-on, the Sony Xperia Z seems to have a lot going for it as a smartphone and, as a result, could potentially compete with the likes of the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III. It’s also the first Android-based smartphone from the Japanese company that we’re excited about.”

Cnet UK: “The Sony Xperia Z’s 5-inch screen, whopping 1080p resolution, fast quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM are all top-notch specs. Plus its camera can record HDR video and it’s waterproof to a depth of 1m, something we wish more phone makers would add. It’s likely to be pretty pricey though, and it may have trouble standing out from similarly specced competitors.”

Droid-Life: “Last night, Sony announced the Xperia Z, a device that at first didn’t seem like it would be all that intriguing considering the history of Xperia devices. Previously, the phones did feature some high-end specs and hardware, but since the phones never fared well with consumers and weren’t available on a range of carriers, they are sometimes forgotten. Well, it could be safe to say that might change with the new Xperia line-up.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP6f4HbBHOk

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Electronista: “The Xperia line-up may not be the best-selling line-up in the Android market, but we have been impressed by Sony’s distinctive designs. In this regard, the Z and ZL retain the clean lines and modern appearance of the broader Xperia range. We found the OS and app performance to be impressive, an unsurprising observation considering the quad-core Snapdragon chipset.”

Engadget: “Has Sony finally crafted a flagship able to go toe-to-toe with the competition? Well, the Xperia Z exudes class — and it’s light. With about the same thickness as the iPhone, the phone is similar with all straight surfaces, barring some slightly rounded corners. Picking it up, it feels better and more premium than any phone we’ve seen from Sony before and, oddly, it’s even waterproof. Comparing the Xperia Z against the Xperia ZL, the oblong, broad Xperia Z felt almost too big in our hands; the ZL felt much more at home. It’s certainly the best-looking we’ve seen from the growing Android phone-maker, although those square lines and glossy sides are slightly familiar. [Display] brightness was noticeably greater than on the preceding Xperia T; viewing angles were also good, but there’s a bluish glow that often ruins dark or black tones on the device.”

Gizmodo: “A very solid showing from Sony Mobile. It seems like the company learned from past mistakes and has redoubled its efforts. In short, these are the best phones Sony has ever made, by a huge margin, and they look like credible contenders for the “Best Smartphone” crown.”

GSM Arena: “Images are rendered beautifully (with Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine 2 bringing a noticeable boost), though we do have some complaints. The viewing angles could’ve been better and the glass covering the screen is quite reflective too. Still, it’s easily one of the best screens we’ve seen. The back looks like it’s made of glass though it’s actually some sort of plastic. The 13MP camera with Exmor RS sensor and LED flash are flush with the surrounding surface, which we like. On the downside, the glossy back readily took the fingerprints of everyone who handled the Xperia Z demo unit.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_dJ295FRD0

Hardware Zone Singapore: “Perhaps one of the most unique design features of the Xperia Z is its metallic Power button on the right side of the device. Due to the nature of the material used, it is actually very easy to feel and press the button even without looking at it. Its location also makes it convenient to access the button, which is particularly important for a device with a 5-inch display as you do not need to stretch your finger or hand to reach the top to turn on the screen or device. The user experience was actually comparable to that of the buttery smooth LG Nexus 4, which we have been using for the past two months. It’s something that Sony has learnt, and hopefully the other Android vendors, HTC and Samsung, could embark on a similar path in future.”

IntoMobile: “For the size of the device, the Xperia Z feels pretty great in the hand. Both the front and back panels are glass, but are covered in a plastic layer that makes the device spill resistant and can handle being dropped in water, and Sony was showing just that off at its Pepcom booth. The boxy shape of the device reminds us of the LG Optimus G, but we hardly think that’s a bad thing.”

The Inquirer: “The Xperia Z is an unashamedly large handset. Packing a 5in HD screen, the Z measures in at a hefty 139x71x7.9mm and weighs 146g. However thanks to Sony’s “Omnibalance” design, the handset doesn’t look overly large and you don’t realise quite how big it is until you actually pick it up. Omnibalance is a design approach that aims to make the Z look the same from all angles. Visually this means that the phone has a fairly minimalist look with its front and back being entirely void of buttons, only housing fairly well camouflaged cameras and Sony logos.”

Mobile-Review (translated): “What to add, my dear friends? I personally really like the device – megapixels and names are not as important as to feel things in the hand. Here it is. And the thing is not afraid of the water, the thing supports LTE, it is equipped with a powerful camera, processor, do not forget about the memory card slot and a lot of other good things. I want to say there is something missing, but in fact there is nothing.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPwRUczFAow

PC Pro: “If you’re sick of all phones looking the same, then Sony’s Xperia Z – the first phone from Sony’s design team, as opposed to Sony Ericsson’s – is well worth a look, a feel and the occasional coo of appreciation. The first thing you’ll notice may well be the colour, with Sony opting for a striking purple design to accompany the standard black and white. It’s fair to say my photo, below, doesn’t do the purple justice. In reality, the look is reminiscent of polished marble, largely due to the glass finish all around. Rounded edges add to the marble-like feel, but it’s surprisingly lightweight. If anything, the Xperia Z feels a little too light in the hand.”

Phandroid: “If you are searching for a good-looking, svelte device, you may not need to look any further. Once you start using the device, the 5-inch 1080p display simply blows you away. It is incredibly crisp, but the colors are not as saturated and vibrant as I expected. Sony is also trying to simplify its manufacturer UI. It now more closely resembles Vanilla Android, but it does have some improvements and modifications.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iqChcBYOvM

PhoneArena: “Simply known as the Sony Xperia Z, it’s the Japanese company’s dubbed flagship device – and boy does it have the impressive specs sheet to live up to that recognition! Certainly we’re drooling over its wicked hardware, which consists of many lovable elements that would crush most of the existing line high-end smartphones on the market right now, but interestingly enough, it merely matches some of the stuff we’ve seen already put forth by the HTC DROID DNA most recently.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y569P8RxVL4

Pocketnow: “Despite the 1080p display, we were less than completely blown away, finding the screen’s viewing angles to be just a bit lacking. We’re also a little concerned about the heavy use of glass around the phone’s edges, making us fear for its durability.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kv7kNO_gH4E

Pocket Gamer: “Whether you think the phone needs a full-HD screen or not, you won’t fail to be impressed with the visual quality of the LCD screen. It’s exceptionally bright and vivid, with a level of colour accuracy that you won’t find on rival devices using OLED technology. This is thanks to Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine V2, which dynamically adjusts settings in real time to improve both still and moving images.”

Pocket-Lint: “Surprisingly it’s not quite as big as we were expecting, with the screen real-estate smaller than the SGN2 and the casing (just 7.9mm thick) keeping the size to a minimum as much as possible. In our play with the new phone it is certainly zippy, happily coping with anything that was asked of it. Video plays beautifully with the big, bright screen really shining.”

Recombu: “In theory the display isn’t the greatest we’re likely to see in 2013 simply because it’s not using AMOLED, but the Full HD resolution, rich colours and contrast on offer here more than suffice. There’s certainly no obvious pixel grid, with both photos and video looking fabulously detailed. However, what really makes the Xperia Z standout is its processing speed. It’s stuffed with a Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor that’s so fast it breathes new life into the less-than-exciting, though clean Android 4.1 OS. Page turns are speedy in the extreme and re-orientation immediate when turning the phone.”

Slashgear: “There’s shatterproof glass on the back, too, and glass-like inserts in the subtly curved sides. However, rather than being prone to smashing, the Xperia Z meets IP55 and IP57 dust and water resistance specifications, and can survive being immersed in (clean) water for up to 30 minutes with no issues. Even the power button is special: Sony has milled it precisely from aluminium, after its research found that the average user presses the key 64 times a day.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLXBEhVagus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-voVE2bVYw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQGFyIRHdXg

Sony Blog: “Stephen from the Sony Mobile Team stopped by SGNL to debut the Xperia Z and Xperia ZL smartphones.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHyHWbFIP9w

TechRadar: “There’s no doubt that Sony has stepped up its game with the Xperia Z. We were pretty unimpressed with the screen quality when we first saw the handset sitting nonchalantly on the table, and if you’re not using the phone straight on, then you may not think you’re staring at a top-end smartphone. But that aside, the rest of the device impressed us hugely. From the premium design, the weight and industrial casing and the larger edge-to-edge screen to the high-end Exmor RS sensor and Bravia Engine 2, there’s so much that Sony will be able to tout on its marketing literature. Based on our early look with the device there’s definitely a lot of positivity surrounding it, and the fact that Sony has finally joined the big boys with a powerful smartphone is enough to pique our interest at the very least.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB6bmgwb998

Trusted Reviews: “It’s a pretty practical phone in most respects, although the glossy front and rear are highly susceptible to fingerprints – only too obvious in the harsh lighting of Sony’s demo area. There are no other significant hardware compromises, though. In a time when some manufacturers are starting to leave out microSD memory card slots in their phones, it’s good to see Sony include one in the Sony Xperia Z. It’s even more impressive that you can barely see this slot, as it’s so well hidden among the phone’s sleek lines.”

The Verge: “It’s too soon to say whether or not Sony’s latest effort will be the smartphone to get this year — next month we expect to see major phone announcements from Sony’s competitors at MWC in Barcelona, plus whatever Samsung and Apple decide to do later this year — but the Xperia Z is one of the strongest efforts we’ve seen from Sony since it separated its mobile division from Sony Ericsson a year ago.”

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