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Review of Sony Xperia Z and Z1 Smartphones – Good or Bad

Updated on September 30, 2013

The Xperia Z is Sony's current top-of-the-line flagship smartphone. If you're looking for a high-end phone with lots of bells and whistles from Sony, then the Xperia Z is what you're looking for. You may also want to consider the Xperia Z1, which is an updated version of the Xperia Z.

Both phones come packed with features with the Z1 offering a few improvements in certain areas such as increased battery size and a better camera. However, just because a phone comes with all the latest specs does not make it a perfect phone. The Z and Z1 both have their strengths and weaknesses that you may like or dislike.


Good: the Sony Xperia Z and Z1 are protected against dust and water

If you own the Xperia Z or Z1, you won't have to worry about getting your phone wet because it can be submerged up to one meter under water. The rain will absolutely not be able to damage your phone. Dust will also not be able to get inside the phone where it can cause problems.

For instance, there is no need to rush out to answer your phone when you're taking a shower. You can keep the phone with you and use it right there when someone calls you. Being resistant against water is a very nice feature of the Sony Xperia.


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Good: the Sony Xperia screen is reinforced against damage

If you've ever owned a smartphone with a big screen before, you probably know that you have to be careful not to drop it because the screen may crack. This can be a pain to fix and is therefore expensive to get done.

To address this problem, Sony made the glass screen resistant against scratches and shatter proof. The phone does not have ordinary glass, but a very strong type of glass similar to the ones people use in jewelry stores.

Of course, how it actually performs is difficult to say. Nobody in their right mind would try to hit the screen with a hammer to see how it works. Still, it gives you a sense of security knowing that your phone is equipped to deal with an accident should something happen.


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Good: the Xperia comes with a camera from Sony

Most people might not be aware of this, but Sony makes very good camera lenses and other optical equipment. In fact, Sony is at the same level as renowned camera makers such as Nikon despite the fact that Sony is better known for its electronics.

Since the Xperia is made by Sony, you get the benefit of owning cameras that are much better than that of most phones. Cameras happen to be part of Sony's expertise and you can expect to get photos that are much better than the competition.

The Xperia Z1 improves the already good camera of its predecessor even more and has one of the best phone cameras out there. Only the Nokia 1020 has something comparable and they needed help from the expert Carl Zeiss to reach that level of quality.


Neutral: the Xperia Z can handle 3D games with ease, but not for very long

The Sony Xperia come with a very fast cpu and includes dedicated graphics processors to handle the most demanding 3D games out there. Unlike other smartphones, the phone will not slow down even with all the eye candy at the highest settings enabled. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the phone can't do it for very long because the battery will run out before you know it. So even though the phone can handle every game out there, you can't play long enough to really enjoy yourself.


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Neutral: the screen of the Xperia Z comes in Full-HD

Both Xperia's come with a 5 inch screen with Full-HD resolution at 1080x1920 which some people might find desirable. Personally, I don't think Full-HD makes much of a difference most of the times compared to regular HD at 720x1280.

To me there's only a noticeable difference when viewing high resolution pictures, otherwise a regular HD screen would do just as well with a 5 inch screen or less. It would also help extend the battery life of the Xperia which needs to be improved.


Bad: the Xperia Z has poor battery life

The biggest drawback of the Xperia Z has to be the battery. Compared to other phones, the battery seems to deplete a lot faster. In order to preserve the battery, it's a good idea not to play around with the screen and other functions needlessly unless you have to.

If you find it bothersome to have to charge your phone on a daily basis, then the Xperia Z is definitely not for you. Even then you have to carefully monitor how much battery life you have left in order to prevent your phone from running out of power.

The Z1 is an improvement and comes with a much bigger battery. However, it only goes from poor to below average. Again, if long battery life is what's important to you, then the Xperia Z line is not what you're looking for.


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Bad: the Sony Xperia Z1 is very expensive

The Xperia Z1 is a high-end phone and it's priced accordingly. It's not the most expensive phone, but it's right there. However, the good thing now that the Z1 is available is that it has made Sony drop the price on the older Xperia Z.

It's an older version and doesn’t have the improvements of the Z1, but they're very close. The two still share many similar features. So if you're looking to save some money, you may want to opt for the older Xperia Z as long as you're willing to give up some of the latest features.


4 stars for Sony Xperia Z and Z1

Summary and comparison of the Sony Xperia Z and Z1 pros and cons

The Sony Xperia Z and Z1 are certainly what you call a high-end phone. It pretty much has everything what most people could wish for in a phone and more. A super strong glass screen and resistance against both dust and water are some of its special features.

The Sony is not a perfect phone with battery life being its greatest weakness. The latest Z1 offers some improvements in that regard, but it's still an issue. If you need more battery life, you may want to look into buying accessories that can charge the battery while on the move. Those can help mitigate insufficient battery life.

Compared to each other, the Z1 is the newer version of the Xperia Z. It has updated features which somewhat address some of its predecessors drawbacks. That also makes it more expensive. The Z can be had for less money, but comes with bigger drawbacks.

Since the Z1 is a very expensive phone, it's out of reach for some people. However, if you can afford its price tag, the Sony Xperia Z and especially the Z1 are certainly worth it. You will get your money's worth in return.


Pros:

  • Resistant against dust and water
  • Glass screen is reinforced against damage
  • Excellent camera, especially in the Z1
  • Handles all games with ease
  • Packed with features

Cons:

  • Poor battery life in the Xperia Z, below average for the Z1
  • Expensive


Sony Xperia Z and Z1 specifications

Name
Sony Xperia Z
Sony Xperia Z1
Operating System
Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Processor
Qualcomm MDM9215M / APQ8064
Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800
 
Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait
Quad-core 2.2 GHz Krait 400
 
Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
Triluminos display - X-Reality Engine
Graphics
Adreno 320
Adreno 330
Band (varies by region)
EDGE/GPRS: 850/900/1800/1900
EDGE/GPRS: 850/900/1800/1900
 
HSDPA: 850/900/1700/1900/2100
HSDPA: 850/900/1700/1900/2100
 
LTE:800/850/900/1800/2100/2600
LTE: 800/850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600
Style
Bar
Bar
Color
Black/white/purple
Black/white/purple
Dimension (H X W X D)
139 mm x 71 mm x 7.9 mm
144 mm x 74 mm x 8.5 mm
Weight
About 146g
About 170g
LCD
5.0-inch Multi-Touch LED
5.0-inch Multi-Touch LED
 
Shatter proof and scratch-resistant glass
Shatter proof and scratch-resistant glass
LCD Resolution
Full-HD (1080 X 1920, 441 PPI)
Full-HD (1080 X 1920, 441 PPI)
Rear cameras
13.1 MP, image stabilization, HDR, 1080p@30fps
20.7 MP, 1/2.3'' sensor size, image stabilization, HDR, 1080p@30fps
 
LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, sweep panorama
LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, sweep panorama
Front camera
2 MP, 1080p@30fps
2 MP, 1080p@30fps
RAM
2 Gigabyte (GB)
2 Gigabyte (GB)
Flash memory
16GB
16GB
Memory card slot
Included, up to 64GB MicroSD card
Included, up to 64GB MicroSD card
Connectors
microUSB, USB 2.0, 3.5 earjack
microUSB, USB 2.0, 3.5 earjack
Wireless Connectivity
Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, NFC
Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, NFC
FM radio
Supported
Supported
Sensors
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, GPS + GLONASS
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, GPS + GLONASS
Battery
Lithium-ion 2330mAh
Lithium-ion 3000mAh
Special features
Shatter proof and scratch-resistant screen glass
Shatter proof and scratch-resistant screen glass
 
Resistant against water and dust (IP57 certified)
Resistant against water and dust proof (IP58 certified)
 
Water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes
Water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes

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