The Sony Xperia Z is Sony's flagship Android smartphone, and this time they really mean it. Previous Sony and Sony Ericsson Android smartphones have always lacked truly all around high end specs, but the Xperia Z has all the right ingredients. Of course, it's up against some very challenging competition with the upcoming HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. In fact, Sony's own Xperia ZL, which we'll be reviewing soon, also puts up a fight.
The bad news? No US carrier currently offers the Xperia Z. But it is available from online import phone stores like www.tekshop.us (tekshop.ca if you're in Canada) for $689 unlocked (they supplied our review unit). You can use it with any GSM carrier (AT&T and T-Mobile are the two large US GSM carriers) and it has a micro SIM card slot. There are a few model numbers, and we look at the C6603 that has AT&T's 3G and HSPA+ bands (you'll only get 2G EDGE on T-Mobile). It does have LTE, but not on the bands used by US carriers. Sony will release a version of the Xperia ZL with US LTE. Rumor has it that T-Mobile may offer the Xperia Z, so there's hope for those of you who want a US carrier version with LTE.
The Sony Xperia Z has a truly lovely 5" full HD display with Sony's Mobile Bravia 2 engine that makes for incredibly vibrant colors that still look natural. Despite the large display size, the phone doesn't feel unwieldy (disclosure: I have large hands) and it helps that it's only 0.31" thick. The front and back are clad in shatter resistant mineral glass, and the phone is available in black, white and purple. It's a good looking phone with strong right angles and a clean design that makes a perfect companion for the upcoming Xperia Z Android tablet. The phone is water resistant as well: just close all those port covers and you can wash it in the sink.
The 13 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and EXMOR RS sensor takes superb photos and has HDR for both photos and 1080p video. The intelligent auto mode really is smart, and we rarely had to use manual settings to get the best shot. The Sony Xperia Z has sweep panorama, image stabilization, 16x digital zoom and burst mode.
The smartphone runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 on a fast quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU clocked at 1.5GHz. It has 2 gigs of RAM and 16 gigs of storage plus an SDXC microSD card slot. The phone supports HDMI out via MLH adapter and the battery is sealed inside. It benchmarks well, with a Quadrant score of 7851 and an AnTuTu score of 20,403. Sony has done a nice job of lightly skinning Android, and of course their various service offerings are here including PlayStation Mobile games, their streaming music service and video services.
Here's our Sony Xperia Z video review. Our full written review will follow.