#2013CES: Sony’s Xperia Z smartphone is unveiled

8 Jan 2013

As predicted, the Xperia Z has made its debut at CES 2013. Considering the premium Xperia T was launched less than four months ago, I expected the Xperia Z to be a fairly standard upgrade. In fact, the new Sony flagship has improved on just about every aspect of its predecessor, producing a covetable device that could rival the top smartphones on the market.

Available in black, white or purple, the design of the Xperia Z sets it apart from the earlier Bond Phone. Ditching its predecessor’s curved body, the Xperia Z smartphone is flat with subtly curved sides. Both sides of the device feature a smooth reflective surface with highly durable tempered glass and anti-shatter film on the front and back.

It features a larger display and higher resolution than the Xperia T with a 5-inch full-HD 1080p Reality Display with Mobile Bravia Engine 2 at 1,080 x 1,920 pixels, which Sony claims is super sharp and clear even in sunlight.

Sony Xperia Z

The 4G-ready handset also claims the highest levels of water and dust resistance found in a high-end smartphone. However, we’ve heard these claims from Sony before, so I wouldn’t go giving this handset a bath based on that fact. Also, with no wet finger tracking mentioned, you can’t really use the device in the rain.

Internal storage is available up to 16GB, but this time we have double the RAM at 2GB and more processing power with a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor. At launch, the Xperia Z will run on Android 4.1, upgrading to 4.2 shortly afterward.

Sony Xperia Z

The 146g, 7.9mm-thick device is packed with the same features and technologies found on the Xperia T, including DLNA, Wi-Fi Miracast and an NFC chip. The great news is that Sony is one of the manufacturers keenly providing compatible products for NFC technology, including speakers, headphones and even TVs like the new Bravia, also announced at CES.

The Xperia Z also has a whopping 13MP fast-capture camera with capabilities borrowed from Sony’s digital camera range, including an Exmor RS sensor for mobile – the first to provide HDR video recording on a smartphone. The front-facing camera has also been upgraded to shoot in 2.2MP and record 1080p HD video.

Sony Xperia Z

All of this is powered by an increased 2,330mAh battery, which can be extended using Battery Stamina Mode. This claims to lengthen battery life by up to four times by automatically shutting down battery-draining apps whenever the screen is off and starting them back up again when the screen is back on.

I’m sceptical as to how well this kind of functionality will work or if it will add unnecessary lag to the time taken to awaken the display, but overall the additions to the Xperia Z have me excited about Sony’s latest flagship handset.

The Xperia Z will launch globally in Q1 2013 while the Xperia ZL, a smaller form factor, will also be released in the first quarter of this year in selected markets.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.