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[MWC 2013] Sony Xperia Z Hands-on: Hard to Outclass

Sony Xperia Z: We Go Hands-on!
Sony Xperia Z: We Go Hands-on!

Sony Xperia Z: Cutting-edge Tech!

The Sony booth was one of the first areas we visited at the Mobile World Congress because we were excited to get our hands on the Sony Xperia Z. Folks, we’re happy to report that device is nothing short of amazing. Sony is well on their way to climbing back up the Android smartphone race if they continue to churn out products like this! Anyway, before we get to our initial review, lets review the specifications.

Sony Xperia Z Spec Sheet

  • 1.5GHz Krait Quad-core Processor Qualcomm MDM9215M
  • Adreno 320 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB Internal Storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 5.0-inches shatter proof and scratch resistant glass capacitive screen
  • 1080 x 1920 pixels, ~441 ppi, Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
  • 13.1-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, LED flash, image stabilization, HDR
  • Record video 1080p@30fps, continuous autofocus and video stabilizer
  • 2.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1080p@30fps
  • WiFi b/g/n, WiFi Hotspot, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • FM Radio, 3G Connectivity, HSPA+, LTE
  • Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
  • 2330mAh Battery
  • Comes in Black, White, and Purple

As you can see Sony put a check mark on all the boxes. Everything you need (and even won’t need) is in there. It will be hard to outclass the Xperia Z if the basis will be what’s under the hood!

Stunning piece of hardware

Gorgeous from any angle
Gorgeous from any angle

The Sony Xperia Z signals a new era of design style for the Japanese tech company. Instead of the usual curved edges and rounded corners that we’ve consistently seen with the Xperia Arc up to the Xperia T, the Xperia Z is a razor thin (measures 7.9m thick, almost like iPhone 5) mono-slab of cutting edge technology. We’ve always been a fan of the Arc design style but we’re digging the direction Sony is taking with the Xperia Z.

Slim and light form factor but solid in the hand
Slim and light form factor but solid in the hand

Sony also took the direction of LG/Google with the Nexus 4. Instead of polycarbonate or plastic material they wrapped the Xperia Z in glass. While this move adds tons of “pogi points”, it does bring one major issue: the Xperia Z is a ridiculous fingerprint smudge magnet. If you’re the type that prefers to keep your phone shiny, glossy, and clean, be prepared to take out that cleaning cloth several times a day.

Highly potent magnet for fingerprint smudges, hehe
Highly potent magnet for fingerprint smudges, hehe

An interesting thing about the Xperia Z is that the ports and openings are covered by flaps. Apparently this was intentional so that the phone can live up to the “shatterproof and water resistant” claim.

Water-resistant? Yes, you read that correctly. Sony clearly highlighted that in their booth with several podiums of the Xperia Z being dunked in a bowl of water.


When it comes to the display quality, we have no complaints. The spacious 5-inch screen bursting with pixels is definitely ideal for media consumption and gaming. Note that the display of the Xperia Z has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. That’s around 443 pixels per inch! Those numbers aren’t just for show though as we saw for ourselves how the images, videos, and text all vibrantly came to life the moment we turned the phone on. We also have no complaints with the viewing angles as they are superb.

By the way, we’ve read from some tech reviews that the Xperia Z’s colors wash out in some instances with apps. We didn’t see that ourselves during the hands-on but we’ll make sure when we get a unit back in the Philippines for review (paging Sony Philippines).

Blazing Fast and Smooth User Interface

Sisiw even at high settings
Sisiw even at high settings

As with all the latest flagship phone releases, the Xperia Z delivers an almost flawless Android experience. This is thanks to the powerful quad-core processor and graphics card, generous 2GB RAM, and optimization brought about by Google’s Project Butter from Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. We say “flawless” because we still experienced occasional but minimal lags. Hopefully a software update in the future can permanently fix this.

The Xperia Z’s UI is an updated version of Timescape which is the signature UI of Sony. While we’ve never liked all the widgets that came with Timescape, we appreciated the techie, modern, and cool look. It’s not as funky as the ones offered by Huawei and LG or as bright as Samsung’s Touchwiz.

The demo units on display had a few apps pre-installed and of course they had Temple Run 2. We played the game with high settings and it ran beautifully. Unfortunately there weren’t other graphics intensive apps so we only were able to try that one.

Xperia Z will be hard to outclass

Two thumbs up from us at Unbox. Can't wait to see this land in the Philippines!
Two thumbs up from us at Unbox. Can’t wait to see this land in the Philippines!

The Sony Xperia Z is a leapfrog product not just from Sony’s Android line, but for Android devices in general. The superb specs crammed in a thin body plus the shatterproof and water-resistant element makes for a very very very compelling product proposition. It will really be hard to outclass what Sony has done with the Xperia Z.

As far as initial impressions go we’re giving the Xperia Z a big, fat, and juicy ace. We’d definitely love to put it through the paces when we get a unit back in the Philippines.

(Note from EIC: The Sony Xperia Z is already being offered by our friends from Widget City. Check them out if you want a unit ASAP.)

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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  1. the phone will be ou in march here in the PH as ive heard ive been following this phone since the day its design got leaked and damn its my ultimate(will never reach) dream phone it will retail at around 32-33k in its first week and is expected to drop to 29-30 after the first wave..and my budget for a phone is at 20k tops so long my dream i only taxes and other things were removed from you.:PP,

  2. Sony has always made compelling android phones hardware-wise… the problem is they dont or they take too long to update the software.. not to mention there is almost no support from third party devs.. (rooting, custom roms, etc)… they need to do this like Samsung does.. Same goes for HTC…

  3. love the design but the non-removable battery is a turn off (which is also the reason why i haven’t patronized or tried HTC phones which have notoriously short battery life according to general feedback)

    i’m willing to give up the waterproof specs just for a removable battery

    i’m a heavy user so i want something that can last me for a whole day while i’m out without having to look where to charge my bat (power bank is an annoyance, spare battery is preferred). and at the same time i don’t have the luxury to spend new phones every year

    so i want an investment that could last for more than 3 years. and i don’t know if a non-removable battery will answer that considering the battery is usually the first to degrade, sometimes in less than a year of heavy use

  4. I beg to disagree. Sony is one of the most developer-friendly manufacturer and they have been recently awarded as OEM of the year by XDA.

  5. how about the xperia tablet z? make a review dn! sa mwc 2013 dn inannounce un diba? anyway good job unbox.ph! esp. to sir carlo!

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