I picked up the Z last week. I had zero intention of buying a new phone since I was happy with my HTC Desire HD although I'd been following the current crop of 1920x1080 phones. However a few weeks ago the touch sensor in the HTC's screen started to fail and I found it was going to cost $150-170 to repair (in Australia). I had hoped the HTC would limp along for long enough to see the HTC One and Galaxy 4 in shops as well but it died. Incidentally, it died at month 25 of owning it (they come with 24 month contracts here) interesting timing, but maybe coincidence. That hastened plans for a new phone and the Sony jumped from one of three to the only option (short of buying a throwaway).
So I picked up the Black C6603 model, it's Android 4.1.2, Kernel 3.4.0-somereallylongstringofnumbersandletters and Build No. 10.1.1.1.350.
Overall look and feel of the handset is good. It's very 2001 "monolithy" with relatively little to break up the glossy black rectangular look. It has a nice weight and solid feel without feeling too heavy. Not as robust as the aluminium bodied HTC but better than the Galaxy S2 (that felt like it'd break if you squeezed too hard).
The screen is superb. It's bright, beautiful and usable in daylight. Still a lot of glare in direct sun but it's definitely more usable than the old phone. The pixels are so tiny that I can't make them out. I didn't think the HTC looked "blocky" before but this is a noticeable step better. Text is especially crisp and easy to read and pictures and movies are great. Its a joy to be able to display a website in basically the same res on my phone as my PC - so page layouts and flows look practically identical.
I'm also loving the fact that it's got removable memory. Removable memory was a big thing for me and it meant I may have bought the Sony even if the HTC One was already available. I got the 16GB model and slotted my 32GB SD in and it's working perfectly. Seems as quick to access the SD as the main memory.
Performance wise, benchmarks are terrific. It's not quite top of the pack but it flies in the tests I put it through;
Basemark ES2.0 Taiji Free: 38.37fps
Epic Citadel (which looks gorgeous): 57.2fps on performance, 55.1 fps on quality (I couldn't see a difference between the two settings)
Vellamo: 1799 in HTML5, 530 in Metal
Ookla Speedtest: Wifi (5ghz): 10706kbps Up 1321kbps Down 85ms Ping. Mobile: 12071kbps Up 2750kbps Down 28ms Ping.
And bear in mind those results are at 1920x1080 (well 1794x1080 since it "reserves" a little bit of the display for the back/home/menu buttons) not the lower res that some of the higher scores have been reached on. The Speedtest blew my mind, mobile that's faster than my wifi :eek: Other than the benchmarks, everything "feels" smooth and responsive. It boots quickly enough if it's fully shut down - a little less than 20secs from power on to being logged in. Games and apps feel smooth and responsive, swapping between them is quick. Startup of most apps is fast. It all just feels fast and smooth.
Haven't done extensive testing on the camera but it seems nice. For a non-photo enthusiast like myself it's more than I'll ever need. The couple snaps I did take though were crisp and looks fine in daylight, a little worse in low light, but better than my old phone (which was atrocious). The face recognition in the camera software is amusing though - jumping around a little more than I'd like ("Ooh thats a face" "No, no it's not a face, it's a tree").
Now for the bad:
Maybe a minor thing, but the handset picks up smears/blemishes easily. They clean off easily enough, but being all glass it looks messy quickly. Might offend the aesthetes out there. Sizewise the phone could be a bit of a problem. The 5" display obviously means the handset needs to be quite large. For example I can't fit it in the phone holder built into my car, it's just too big. Similarly it's a little uncomfortable in a pocket. But this is a tradeoff you make for the fact that it's a much larger display.
There have been some minor hiccups. I've had a couple apps just shut down and once the phone itself needed a reboot (thats a bit more than a minor hiccup to me). I've also had a couple apps that didn't like the higher screen res, although thats probably more the app to blame than the hardware. I'm not certain with the apps which crashed whether they were buggy or the phone hardware/software is the problem. I will say though that my most heavily used apps all ran ok it was just a couple of the more obscure ones that I was toying with.
The sound from the tiny speaker is pretty terrible. I know a phone isn't really meant to be used as a stereo but if thats what you're looking for maybe you should buy the HTC One. With headphones though it sounds just fine, even the small Sony supplied earbuds sound quite nice when listening to music or gaming, bassier than I'd expect but a little tinny. Not super, but fine for regular use. Someone really needs to figure a way to make the damned things tangle free though because they knot up like you wouldn't believe the moment you take them off :mad: Interestingly I tried the set of (cheapish) Sennheiser over the ear headphones I use for PC gaming and they are much less bassy, but better on the high end. So I'd say it's probably more to do with the headphones than any issue with the phone itself.
Now a couple observations that I can't really place in good/bad:
The Sony tweaks to the UI are relatively minor. It feels very much like the Asus Transformer 300 that I have (ie: very close to vanilla). It's quite a change to the HTC sense UI that I'm used to and I really miss some of the nice HTC widgets I used to have, the flip clock particularly, but also the ones for turning mobile data/wifi/etc on and off. There are other ones available but they just aren't quite the same. Some of that might be nostalgia though. The Sony lockscreen info/widgets seems weaker than the HTC, but this may just be because I haven't figured it out yet. The Walkman (there's a name I haven't heard in years!) media player seems very good though. Good enough I couldn't be bothered chasing down a replacement media player.
Battery life is a bit hard to judge. I'm not really sure how long comparable devices last so I can't really say whether it's better/worse. I used it heavily over the weekend and it needed charging each day. But then I was using it pretty heavily playing with it, installing stuff etc. I got about 3-4 hours of solid (ie: continuous) usage and went from 100% to under 30% battery. So I'd guess 5-6 hours max out of the battery. In contrast the last three days have been back to my more usual usage. Odd phonecalls, SMS, some music playing and a small bit of surfing (although I have run a couple benchmarks again). After three days it's still at 27% and I only just turned on the "Stamina mode". I suspect Stamina mode won't make a huge difference to me since I turn off mobile/wifi overnight anyway, but it might help other users as they are deactivated when the phone's display is off.
Nearly forgot, the waterproof thing... I haven't dunked the phone as I'm somewhat reluctant to take the risk on a brand new handset. It does however seem to have sensors built into the covers. eg: leave the headphone cover open and you get a warning that the phone won't be waterproof until you close it. And the covers themself seems to close tightly, though I wonder how long that will last with constant usage (since they're pretty flimsy).
Overall the Xperia Z seems like a pretty nice true HD phone if thats what you're looking for. Hope this little review helps someone.
Re: Mini review
just the look of the phone by itself got me completely sold. i just got mine 2 days ago and upgraded from a blackberry torch 9800
the overall experience is at a whole new level and i couldn't stop looking at the phone ever since.
the only thing that's bugging me though is that i'm trying to get the LTE to work on rogers network here in Vancouver, Canada though and so far i'm having little luck =\
it might just be me being a total newb having bought an unlocked phone for the first time and using an android device for the first time
Re: Mini review
I'm in Australia and the phone is set to prefer LTE (and drop back automatically to other standards if LTE isn't available). I'm honestly not sure what network connection I've got most of the time (its only 3G now). It just works and it's fast so I wasn't too worried. Based on the speedtest I did last week I must have been in a 4G (LTE) area at the time.
Not really sure of a way to force it to connect using LTE.