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Sony’s Xperia Z takes a dunking

John Davidson | Feb. 27, 2013
There is one simple thing you need to know about the Xperia Z. It works under water, to a depth of 1 metre.

For those us who aren't big talkers, that's not much of a pity. But what is a pity is that the phone's 13 megapixel camera won't work under water, either. We tried it, and while we were able to get the camera to zoom in and out, alas we couldn't actually take a picture. (The zoom controls are just the phone's volume controls, which of course are physical buttons that work under water).

If Sony would just make the power button double as the shutter button when the phone is in camera mode, then you could take underwater photos in the ocean and the Xperia Z would be the complete package.

It actually wouldn't take much tweaking to do that, by the way, and I'm hopeful that some Sony official will read this column and heed my advice. But I have the feeling that Sony is positioning the Xperia Z more as a device that can survive an accidental dunking, rather than a device you would actively take with you below the waterline, so I'm not confident they will make the tweak.

Speaking of the power button, another nice thing to know about the Xperia Z is that, from the bulging, aluminium power button on up, the phone is immaculately (if somewhat soberly) designed. It's got glass front and back, quite like an iPhone 4, though Sony says it has coated the glass with a special laminate so that, unlike an iPhone, it won't shatter at the merest hint of an impact (while we were happy to drop the Xperia Z into a bath, we couldn't bring ourselves to drop it on to a floor, so you'll have to take Sony's word for it).

It's also got a screen that, at five inches, is much bigger than the iPhone 5's four-inch display, and much sharper, too: the Xperia Z has an incredible 1080 x 1920 pixel, full high definition display, giving it a ridiculously high pixel density of 441 pixels per inch. By comparison, the iPhone 5 has a mere 326 pixels per inch on its now-old-fashioned Retina display.

The 13 megapixel camera on the Xperia Z is better than the iPhone's camera, too, and indeed better than most other phone cameras we've tested. In our tests, photos from the Xperia were brighter, better exposed and sharper than photos from the iPhone 5, taken under identical conditions in our studio. Sony makes great camera cameras, so it's no surprise the Xperia Z has a great phone camera, too.

And the Xperia Z, with its 1.5 GHz, quad-core processor, is speedy. It did exceedingly well in our overall speed benchmark (Geekbench 2) and quite well in our browser speed benchmark (BrowserMark 2.0)


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