Feeds
Sony Xperia Z

Review: Sony Xperia Z

The new flagship with tattered sails?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Portable powerhouse

Currently running the show is Android 4.1.2 though Sony is promising an upgrade to 4.2 in the near future. For hardware you get a Qualcomm S4 Pro 1.5GHz quad-core Krait-class CPU with 2GB of Ram and an Adreno 320 GPU. That’s a combination that makes the Z go like a privy door when the plague’s in town.

To put some hard numbers to that statement, the AnTuTu synthetic benchmark returned a score of 20,450 which is the highest I’d ever seen on a smartphone until the HTC One landed on my desk.

Sony Xperia Z AnTuTu

The SunSpider browser test produced a more average figure of 1328. Better than the Google/LG Nexus 4 but not as good as the iPhone 5 or Nokia Lumia 920. Chrome does seem to struggle a bit with JavaScript tests compared to Apple and Microsoft mobile browsers. Tested with BrowserMark 2 and Vellamo, the Z does much better.

Of course this being a Sony you get Android with a serious cosmetic make-over. Sony’s rather aged launcher design - the icons look much the same as they did on the very first Android Xperias back in early 2010 - doesn’t detract from the user experience but nor does it really add to it.

It’s change for change's sake if you ask me and strangely the widgets and icons don’t rearrange themselves automatically in the Sony launcher even though that is now a native feature of Android.

Sony Xperia Z

The Sony UI is looking dated

There are quite a few pre-loaded Sony apps which can’t be removed unless you root your handset. Most, like the Walkman music player, picture gallery with built-in photo editor and excellent Gracenote-connected video player, are welcome. Others, including the various media stores and rather flaky Socialife (sic) social networker aggregator less so.

A flagship Sony with a half-arsed camera would be unthinkable so the Z boasts a 13Mp main snapper and a 2.2Mp webcam. The latter is a blinder and makes the Z a superb device for video chatting to any friends, relatives or inamoratas in remote places.

The Big Idea in the Z’s camera is what’s called Superior auto. It’s essentially an automatic scene selector which changes colour saturation, contrast, light metering and such like depending on what it thinks it’s looking at.

Sony Xperia Z

It's grim up North: the Z's camera is good, not great
Click for full-size image

Most of the time the system interferes to the benefit of casual point and snap picture quality but flicking back to basic Automatic mode is a one-touch operation if you think it’s got it all wrong. Image quality is generally pretty good if not exceptional while the LED ‘flash’ is the usual puny and near pointless affair unless you press it into service as a torch.

I’m old enough to remember when flagship Cybershot phones had Xenon flashes and hardware camera buttons. Those were the days.

In terms of wireless connectivity, the Z ticks all the boxes. It supports every GSM, HSPA and LTE band known to man, and comes with Bluetooth 4.0, 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi and NFC, the last offering one-touch DLNA screen mirroring with new Bravia TVs. Reception was solid across the board and thanks to wideband HD Voice and dual-mic active noise reduction so was call quality.

Sony Xperia Z

Does the Launch-and-Shoot feature actually work?

While most Android phones running 4.0 and above depend solely on the MTP connection protocol, the Z gives you the choice between that or MSC, which lets you access the memory card card in situ. This means an easier life for Mac and Linux users.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Next page: Trouble at mill

More from The Register

next story
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.