REVIEW: Can A Waterproof Phone Bring Sony Back?
Not tablets or Ultrabooks. And definitely not smartphones.
That's Sony's biggest challenge right now. Its major competitors like Apple and
T-Mobile is the only carrier that will sell the Xperia Z (for now), and you can get it for $100 down plus $20 per month for 24 months . The phone launches July 17.
Hardware And Design
The Xperia Z is a pretty phone. Unlike other Android manufacturers that use cheap-feeling plastic to build their devices, Sony's new flagship is well built and fun to hold. It's a hair thicker than the
But because the Xperia Z is water resistant, you'll have to put up with some compromises with the design. Every port and opening is covered with a tiny hatch that you have to pry open with your fingernail whenever you want to access the headphone jack, USB charger, or SD card slot. The hatches may keep water out, but they also keep you from quickly getting to the ports. And when they're open, each hatch hangs from a flimsy plastic thread, which is distracting and ugly.
The Xperia Z also demonstrates an interesting trend in smartphones looking to find their place behind Apple's
Software And Other FeaturesSony does a pretty good job with the Android operating system. While, many manufacturers fall into the trap of customizing Android beyond recognition, Sony keeps most of Google's original designs and features. That's a good thing, since Android is pretty darn good as is.
Beyond the basic Android goodies, you do get a few Sony-specific software features like apps for watching videos or listening to music. Sony also redesigned the camera software so that it can automatically adjust shooting modes based on the lighting and subjects you're trying to shoot. For example, if the camera detects motion, it'll switch to a mode that'll reduce blur.
For the most part, the camera software did a good job at detecting what I was shooting, and photos turned out pretty well. I don't normally switch shooting modes on my smartphone camera, so it's nice to have a device that did the thinking for me.
Another interesting feature is a battery manager that keeps certain apps from sucking up power when your phone's display is off. You'll still get incoming texts and phone calls, but the tool will keep other apps from connecting to the Internet and delivering notifications, theoretically saving your battery life. In reality, I didn't notice much of a difference when I had the power manager switched on. Most phones already use minimal power when asleep, and Sony's solution didn't seem to add much.
And that's really about all the distinguishing features worth going over in the Xperia Z. Everything else is your typical Android experience.
The Xperia Z is a good Android phone. However, it's not the knock-your-socks-off revolution that Sony probably hoped it would be, and it's only going to really stand out to a niche group of people who desire a waterproof phone above everything else.