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Sony Xperia Z review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 500
inc VAT

It's still a classy handset but it's the upcoming Android 5.0 update that makes this a potential second-hand bargain


Android 4.1 (JellyBean), 5.0in 1,920×1,080 display

The Xperia Z’s 13-megapixel camera uses an Exmor RS sensor, which is designed to be particularly impressive in low light. Compared side-by-side with a Motorola RAZR i’s camera, which is a fairly standard smartphone model, under low light the Xperia Z’s sensor produced brighter images with far more detail.

Under indoor lighting conditions, when compared side by side with photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Xperia Z really shone. This is one of the few phones we’ve seen that can take sharp photos indoors, and we saw very little noise or evidence of excessive noise reduction. It’s very impressive.

Xperia Z test shot indoors

Impressive focus and little noise indoors – CLICK TO ENLARGE

Outside, we were impressed with how the Xperia Z handled exposure; many phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, bleach out the sky, but the Xperia Z’s camera picked up individual clouds. Colours are accurate, but for sheer amount of detail you can’t beat the Galaxy S3; it picked up significantly more detail than the Xperia Z’s camera, making images more lifelike.

Xperia Z test shot outdoors

Great exposure, but the Samsung Galaxy S3’s camera picks up more detail outside

We also ran our new indoor video tests on the Xperia Z’s camera. We’ve set up a test scene in a camera tent in order to see how smartphone cameras perform under different lighting conditions, and how they deal with movement. We video the scene with the room lights switched on and with additional illumination from lights positioned at the side, then with the side lights only and finally with no lights at all apart from some moving LEDs.

The Xperia Z performed very well in this test, with surprisingly little noise in the footage. It also coped well with the LEDs in the scene – many phones flare out the strong light source, but the Xperia Z didn’t have this problem. The one major drawback was that the phone struggled to keep focus in low light during the test, instead hunting around for a focal point.

The Z1, Z2 and Z3 have all now replaced the original Xperia Z and it is starting to show its age. If you can still find it for sale anywhere chances are you’ll be paying over the odds for a phone that is out of date and well behind cheaper, newer handsets such as the Moto G and Moto X

This is not a phone worth buying new; it’s too expensive compared to newer phones but still performs like a two-year-old smartphone. With that said, if you can find one second-hand for around £100, it might be worth a punt due to its excellent build quality and water resistant design that rather outdoes similarly priced phones from the same era. With that said, some users have reported dust making its way into the camera lens, which could be an irritating issue. Battery life, which wasn’t particularly good two years ago, will have only got worse with a used handset so you may need to buy a replacement and then somehow fit it yourself, which isn’t easy as the phone isn’t designed to be opened by amateurs.

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Main display size5.0in
Native resolution1,920×1,080
CCD effective megapixels13-megapixel
Internal memory16384MB
Memory card supportmicroSD
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 8
Wireless dataHSDPA+, LTE


Operating systemAndroid 4.1 (JellyBean)
Microsoft Office compatibilityWord, Excel, PowerPoint
FM Radioyes
Accessoriesstereo headset, charger, USB cable
Talk time11 hours
Standby time23 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price£500
Price on contract0

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