Sony Xperia Z review

Price when reviewed

It’s a striking, clever and practical design, but the Xperia isn’t without issues. Its squared-off edges and sheer size mean it isn’t as comfortable to hold as the curvier Samsung, and every port is hidden behind a rubberised flap. This isn’t a huge issue for the infrequently accessed microSD and micro-SIM slots, but having to uncover the micro-USB and headphone connectors is a constant annoyance. The sealed construction means the battery isn’t replaceable, either.

Under the hood

The Xperia uses the Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064, which is a quad-core, 1.5GHz processor, and it’s partnered with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. The benchmark results are impressive. The Xperia’s Quadrant result of 7,744 is the best we’ve seen, outstripping the 5,752 of the Samsung Galaxy S III, and the Sony scored 1,911 in Geekbench, again beating the Galaxy’s 1,782 result.

Sony Xperia Z

Only the Sony’s SunSpider result of 1,862ms disappoints, with the Galaxy S III coming in at 1,280ms, but we didn’t experience any major performance issues in Android. We only encountered a little slowdown when using Sony’s software: homescreens didn’t load instantly when saddled with Sony’s widgets, and its Video Unlimited and Sony Select apps were sluggish.

The Adreno 320 GPU scythed through Shadowgun, Dead Trigger and Reckless Racing 2 without frame-rate issues, but Real Racing 3 juddered when races got busy. The sheer number of pixels is the problem: while the Samsung’s 720 x 1,280 panel has 921,600 to render, the Sony has just over two million to deal with.

There’s no such inconsistency with the Xperia Z’s battery performance, though: with a capacious 2,330mAh power pack under the hood, this phone put in an exceptional performance, with 70% left on the gauge after our 24-hour run-down test – 10% more than the Samsung. Sony has also added its own “Stamina mode”, which shuts down network-dependant apps while the screen’s off. We ran our battery test again, and found it added 5% to our initial benchmark result.

Sony Xperia Z camera samples

Other specifications include support for 4G, dual-band 802.11n, Bluetooth 4 and NFC. Our only complaint concerns storage – 64GB microSD cards aren’t supported.


The Xperia Z isn’t the first Sony handset with a 13-megapixel camera, but this phone marks the debut of a redesigned camera app. The new software is slick: tapping the top-right corner loads scenes, effects and other options, and technical settings are accessed by prodding the top-left corner. It’s a shame the app takes a couple of seconds to open, and that there’s no dedicated camera button.

There are masses of options, though. The left-hand menu has resolution, timer, auto-upload, geo-tagging and storage settings, and the right-hand menu provides a 10fps burst mode, a slick sweep-panorama tool and a range of artistic effects. There are more scenes than we’ve seen on most smartphones, too – three different night modes, a landscape setting, and even options for food, pets, sports and parties – and Sony’s intelligent auto mode worked extremely well during our tests.


Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £26.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider


Dimensions 139 x 71 x 7.9mm (WDH)
Weight 146g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 2.00GB
Camera megapixel rating 13.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes


Screen size 5.0in
Resolution 1080 x 1920
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes


OS family Android

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